I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
He threw his hockey equipment in the back seat, closed the door, then hopped into my passenger seat and asked me if I would take him to a nearby gas station to grab something to drink on the way home. I said sure and we headed down Madison Avenue while we began with the usual small talk about the weather and the sketchy neighborhood from where I picked him up.
We parked in front of the gas station and he ran inside and grabbed a Gatoraide and hopped back in my car.
“So you mentioned that you have written some books?”
“I sure have.”
“Oh, interesting.” He said, “So tell me a little more about them.”
I went on to give the elevator pitch on blogs and books and touring and being broke. He was equal parts intrigued and mortified. I told him about how dating has played a role in my writing and he asked if that was my intention and if I set out to turn dating into a study.
“No,” I said. “I simply needed a distraction to get me through a break up and I turned to dating. It challenged my level of comfort and forced me to realize that what I found appealing and attractive was constantly evolving.”
He looked out of his window and into the passing buildings and said, “Do you ever think it stops evolving?”
“Sure,” I said. “When we stop evolving.”
He seemed a little disappointed by my response so I added, “But I think the key is to find someone who wants to evolve with us. To have a teammate in the journey.”
“So,” I asked. “Are you dating now?”
“Oh, I have a girlfriend.” He said, “We actually met kind of online.”
“Oh, nice. So you understand the crazy ride of internet dating, I see.”
“Well I wouldn’t say I went on a thousand first dates. At least 100 though.”
I said, “So did it give you a better understanding of what you were looking for?”
“Funny enough, I gave up looking for something.” He said, “I did so much better when I stopped having expectations.”
“NO WAY!” I practically shouted. “I have said the same thing. I prefer to not have expectations because they only lead to disappointment and that I would rather just be pleasantly surprised.”
He laughed a bit and agreed.
“But you know, I found more serious relationships when I went into it just thinking we would be friends. Everyone always wants to say that they’re looking for a husband or a serious relationship but how do you expect it to work out when you begin with such heavy expectations?”
“Dude.” I said, “It’s like we have the exact same mentality. Compatibility is tough enough without adding expectations in the beginning. I always like to just set out to be friends. If something comes out of it, cool. If not, maybe I made a friend. Shit, some of my best friends in the world I met though online dating.”
“Exactly.” He said, “Do you know how I really met my girlfriend? I agreed to a date with someone I didn’t find all that attractive but she seemed like someone fun to get drinks with on a lazy Sunday so I met her out with a group of her friends. We all hung out and watched the game and eventually we kind of realized we weren’t really feeling each other so I ended up hanging out more with her friends. One was in from out of town and we got along really well. At the end of the night, I asked for her number. One thing lead to another and now we live together.”
“That is amazing.” I said.
“And all because I went out with someone I didn’t even really find all that attractive.” He said, “The problem is, so many people limit themselves because they only go out with people they see as perfect. And you never know who you might end up meeting.”
“That really is a great way to see it.” I said.
“I have just found that when you have no expectations you are free to be more comfortable and be your true self. Relationships never follow a straight line.”
“Sir, I like what you have to say. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.”
He laughed as we pulled up to his house.
“Hey, man.” I said, “It was nice getting to meet you. While you definitely echo many of my own sentiments, I like knowing that there are relative success stories that have come out of unconventional dating.”
“Well thank you,” He said. “People are always killing themselves by trying to force their desire to be loved upon someone else. When you just learn to relax, love has this crazy way of finding you.”
He closed the door and walked away into the darkness and I thought how awesome it was that love is messy and unpredictable and our hearts are attracted to the strangest and most inconvenient people, but every now and then, our love goes and surprises us in wonderful ways. And that the only predictable thing about love and relationships is it’s unpredictability. And as I drove away, it made me smile knowing just how frustratingly magical it all really is.