I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
I think we both knew the relationship had been over for months. It seemed that we were just waiting for the other one to pull the trigger. It had never really gotten ugly in all the years, in fact, we had only one serious argument where I raised my voice. And that was the problem. Not that anyone should be screaming at the top of their lungs at anyone they love but the relationship just lacked a certain intensity. The kind that makes you fall in love with another human. And in a way, it was that lack of passion that actually held us together for so long. There were no blow out fights or simmering animosity, just a comfortable apathy. We were under the emotional umbrella of having the comfort of another person there for us when we walked in from work. Someone to eat with. And someone to cuddle on the couch to stay warm. It was nice. She was adorable and intelligent and charming, but it wasn’t what either one of us truly needed, and we knew that.
I don’t even remember what precipitated the break up. All I remember is standing there in her living room hugging her while she quietly sobbed in my arms. I kissed her face and said, “You know what’s really going to suck about this? One day we are going to greet each other on the street with a smile and an awkward hug and make small talk like none of this ever happened.”
And it did.
But as I walked home that night, I had this overwhelming sinking feeling of sadness. And for a brief moment I wondered how I would go on without her. Or more accurately, what she brought to my life. I mean, who would want to take chances on new recipes we learned about from one-hit wonder rappers on MTV together? Who would always let me have the right side of the bed and allow me to over-cuddle them until I fell asleep? Who would get my humor in the way where I wouldn’t have to explain my childish jokes? And as I walked through the light dusting of snow, I realized the sadness wasn’t so much about losing her, but what she represented.
I spent the new few days the way most of us would have handled it – by keeping busy and doing my best to hold it together at night. But I didn’t mourn the loss of my girlfriend, I was doing my best to hold together the anxiety of an uncertain future.
Meeting new people is exhausting and do you know how many dates I have to go on just to find someone who is attractive and intelligent and charming and actually finds me attractive? It really is significantly more difficult that one might think. To complicate things, let’s also add that I would prefer someone who wasn’t ridiculously jealous or irrational or spiteful and mean. Oh, and do this all without overthinking or investing too much hope because there’s still a pretty good chance I’ll just ruin everything anyway. When you’re standing outside of it all with the clarity of absolutely no prospects you can really start to panic and freak yourself out. So now I can see why people want to stay in “good enough” relationships. The dating world can be seriously intimidating if you haven’t been involved for a while and especially if you believe that you’re stock is plummeting.
But the truth is, there is someone out there for all of us. I mean, think about it. Sometimes you’ll meet someone and they are impossibly unattractive in all the worst ways and they casually drop, “Oh, my girlfriend and I,” and you’re all, “Wait. Someone willingly kisses you on your stupid mouth?” Like, think about that for a minute. There are plenty of awful humans in this world and lots of them end up in relationships. Granted, it’s probably with someone equally as awful but hey, every pot has a lid. And that means there is someone out there at this very second that is looking for you. Not someone like you, but YOU. And instead of continuously freaking out and worrying about the future, we need to just learn to relax and enjoy the ride. Because after that panic filled snowy evening, I went on a date. And another. Then a dozen more. And eventually I met someone who loved Seinfeld AND Wu-Tang and shared my love for awful reality television and willingly wanted to kiss me on my stupid mouth and found my childish humor charming and made me smile and motivated me in ways I had never felt before.
All because I wasn’t willing to settle for good enough.