To The Man Who Changed My Definition Of “Love”

Three years ago you came into my life…

…and you came rather quietly. If I’m honest, I didn’t see ANY of this coming at first.

You were kind, funny, handsome and charming, yet unassuming. You were somewhat broken by the experiences life had dealt you, and you were okay with being a “work in progress”. A self-proclaimed introvert who was adept at clever banter and seemed to delight in my repartee equally as much as I delighted in his! I’ve never met another introvert who talks as much as I do.

You were very different from other men I had met in a similar fashion; we even joked about the perils of online dating and shared stories about some of the strange encounters we had.

We laughed a lot – often at each others’ expense. We shared our dreams, our fears, our plans for the future. We really talked and spent time getting to know one another. (At the time, that was due to situational challenges but I truly believe that was the universe intervening, keeping us on track to become what we needed to become)

The attraction, chemistry, and tension were palpable also, which was an unusual plus for me. Typically, the type of man I am attracted to physically is not the same man I am attracted to mentally and emotionally. You seemed to be the real deal, and I was excited to see what would be revealed next in this interesting connection we were building!

I’m pretty sure we both knew very early on that this was special; something outlined in the stars long before either of us was even an idea. A pre-destined meeting of souls that genuinely needed one another for their personal development and growth. To learn about who they truly are meant to be.

This is where things start to get interesting.

Fast-forward to about six months later – when we finally got to meet face to face for the first time. As much as I wish I could recall the details with accuracy, I simply can’t. That night remains a blur in my memory; a clouded combination of blatant mutual flirtation, awkward jokes, and conversation. Yes, of course, the physical connection also happened and that was a whole other level of intensity. The whole night was, in short, a lot.

I began to feel things that night, and the nights to follow, that made me remember what it was like to fall in love with someone before my heart had ever been broken. When I trusted that everyone had the same good intentions that I did. When my idealistic heart was so brave and eager to connect with the hearts of others that it did so without my consent – or even recognition. I didn’t think about what it was becoming or should become. I just wanted to let “us” happen as we were meant to.

Days passed, and we continued to learn about each other.

I learned that you’re great at telling stories. You are so animated when you’re passionate about what you’re talking about! It amazes me to see the light in your eyes when you talk about your family. But also, to be able to feel the pain and angst in your heart when you talked about the people who had wronged you or the ones you love. Your stories always have me enraptured – whether happy or sad – and that is a feat that few have been able to boast.

I learned that we have a ridiculous amount of silly things in common. We both love punk music, Dairy Queen, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, potatoes (in all their forms), and chocolate (maybe a little too much). This is just a few on an ever-growing list of commonalities that is awesome and a little unnerving at the same time.

I learned that you are a perfectionist – more so when it comes to yourself than to others. Often, this is to your own detriment; you are harder on yourself than anyone ever should be. You are your own worst enemy.

I learned that you are a fierce friend. You are dependable, helpful, giving, and always deliver the truth with nothing but the best of intentions. You show up for the people that show up for you, and sometimes even for the ones that don’t. Without fail. You are an advocate, a cheerleader, and a partner in crime. When a regular friend bails you out of jail, you help bury the bodies. Unfailing. Unwavering. True, always.

Through the learning, came the inevitable. I began to recognize signs within myself that told me I needed to explore what else you could be in my life. I still wasn’t even sure what these feelings were that I was having for you, but I knew I liked them, and I knew I liked you, and my heart was insistent that there was something more to be explored here.

So I mustered up the courage and typed out a message to you while I was getting ready for work one morning, asking you if you would be interested in going on a proper date with me. My finger nervously hovered over the send button for what seemed like an hour… and then I did it. Bam.

I nervously waited to see the status of that message change to “read” and then quickly distracted myself with my makeup while I gave you the chance to reply. Seeing those three dots flashing on the screen to tell me you were typing was simultaneously thrilling, and terrifying. But, it was too late. Now all I could do was wait.

This was the first time you turned me down.

You said that as much as you love spending time with me and think I’m an amazing person inside and out, you just didn’t “see me that way”. You were pretty confident that I was meant to hold a place of friendship in your life and that was all you could see.

As a woman who is not familiar with rejection in such a way, I can’t say that I handled it very well. I was hurt and embarrassed, and I let that carry me away. I wasn’t unkind to you necessarily, but I definitely distanced myself from you after that day. I believed my investment in you to be unfounded since you didn’t share my interest in developing a relationship on another level.

Fast-forward again to a few months later. Since you had denied my attempts to connect with you in that way, I had been openly looking to meet someone else. You were very supportive (as always) and insisted I not settle for less than I deserve.

We talked here and there with no real consistency, and hung out once in a while, but the connection we once had was tarnished for me by my fool-hearted attempt to win your affection. I stayed somewhat distant because I was bitter. I was angry. But I still enjoyed your company so much that I never told you any of it and just swallowed the negativity. It wasn’t your fault that you didn’t feel the same way I did. I knew that. But my pride wasn’t having any of it.

Then I met him.

He swept me off my feet with his charm, and his overt fascination with my loving and accepting personality. He was also funny, sweet, charming, handsome, and had a heart that had been broken time and time again, just like mine. We were kindred spirits – our jagged edges fit so well together, like pieces of a puzzle. I fell in love with him very quickly.

You and I remained friends throughout this relationship. I have to give all the credit for that to you. I rarely sent you messages, but you always reached out to me. I never left you hanging, but I also didn’t put forth nearly enough effort to justify you keeping in touch. Yet, you always did.

That year was a whirlwind of lessons. As it turns out, he was a very troubled soul, who needed something I just couldn’t give him. Of course, it ended just as quickly as it began, exactly 365 days later on New Year’s Eve. I was destroyed. I had believed this time I’d found my “one” (again) and when it turned out to be the opposite, my heart couldn’t take it. I fell into a very deep depression that it took months of therapy to work through.

Despite my messiness, you were always there. Sending me messages of reassurance that there was nothing wrong with me. That he was a fool for letting me go the way he did. That I was indeed lovable, and that the time would come for me to have everything with someone worthy of me.

In the following months, when the intense feelings of abandonment I’ve struggled with my whole life felt like they would completely overpower my spirit, you promised to be there for me. You promised to always be my friend. You promised to never let me down like that. You messaged me regularly – and I, you (for a change). I began to remember why we had stayed in touch all this time. You were my friend, and I trusted you.

Despite all of that, I still hid my true self from you. I was so frightened of opening my heart to anyone – in any way – that I wouldn’t let you get close to me again. I dreaded talking with you about how I was struggling with the pain I was experiencing, for fear that it would change the way you felt about me. That you wouldn’t see the strong, powerful woman that you’ve always known, and that this weak, teary-eyed fool would bore you. That seeing this side of me would make you believe that I’m “just like all the other girls”… and we all know how you feel about those other girls.

It took a long time for me to open up to you again.

Fast forward (once more) to summer. You had been asking to see me for months, and I had been refusing. I had at least gotten to the point where I could tell you why I was refusing, but still not to the point where I felt I was ready to be at the business end of your very intense gaze. You know the one… the one that seems as though you’re looking right into my soul. Yeah. That one.

But, despite my best attempts to keep you at arm’s length, I couldn’t deny you anymore. I missed you more than I was willing to admit at the time, and I let you back into my space (and my heart).

It had been quite a while since I’d seen you in person (over a year actually). I had forgotten how handsome you are. You have the warmest blue eyes I’ve ever seen; they smile without smiling. I typically don’t favour blue eyes because they’re cold and hard to read. Yours are the exception. Your dimples are so fucking cute I could die. You smell incredible at all times (it’s that cologne fetish of yours – damn is it working for you). Your broad chest and big shoulders are not only glorious to look at, but they’re also perfect for snuggling and giving the best hugs known to mankind.

Regardless of our physical attraction to one another being somewhat overpowering, there was no physical connection that day, or for a while after that.

There was, however, something else.

I remembered you. Really and truly. All the things that you had worked so hard to show me about yourself since we had met – your kindness, your generosity, your spirit, your heart. I remembered it all. And I realized that you were now part of the very small circle of special people that I would never be without. It was one of the happiest realizations I have ever made in my life. I don’t add to that circle frequently, but when I do, it is with a lifelong investment in you. And I knew that you had invested the same in me. It was – for lack of a better word – perfect.

Believe it or not, the story doesn’t end here…

Months went by and we saw each other more frequently. Once a week or every couple of weeks. We talked almost every day. We kept learning more and more about each other and drawing each other closer and closer, as friends do. The added physical benefits of our friendship kept us both content and allowed us to reach past our own boundaries and learn new things about ourselves. Our level of comfort with each other was unparalleled.

And then, in November, the unthinkable happened. You experienced a loss so great, that I could feel the pain you were feeling – even though you were hundreds of kilometers away. Your heart was literally broken, and my heart broke for you. Though I knew there was nothing I could do to take the pain away, I did everything in my power to remind you that you weren’t alone. To make sure you knew that someone loved you and was always here to support you when you felt weak. I tried to be there for you, just as you had been there for me in my time of need.

We began talking every day. Not just on the days where we were sad or we needed each other, but on the days where we were happy and everything was fine. We started seeing each other weekly. At least once. We got closer. And closer.

And once again, the voice in my heart would not be quieted. I had begun to feel things for you that went beyond friendship, and I needed to know if the same had happened to you.

This was when you turned me down the second time.

To my dismay, you essentially repeated what you had told me the first time you turned me down verbatim. You told me you love me but only as a friend. You don’t have romantic feelings for me, and even though you’re not sure why, you are sure that we are only meant to be friends.

I was hurt, yes. Discouraged, yes. I almost ended our friendship because of it, yes. But I was not heartbroken. This was nothing like how I felt after the infamous breakup with he-who-shall-not-be-named. No, no. This was an opportunity, and I saw it very shortly after it happened as exactly that.

This was an opportunity for me to move beyond my relentless search for romantic love and to let someone love me just as they are meant to! The “relationship” I wanted to happen between us is not what was meant to happen between us. We are meant for more. It’s not something either of us intended or expected (I don’t think, anyway. Are you also a psychic? lol), but what it IS is miraculous.

We have developed something that extends beyond the principal boundaries of friendship. We have experienced life with each other and through each other on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels that most people never get to share with someone else at all. We have unending faith in each other, provide infinite kindness for one another and love one another deeply and truly.

That kind of love doesn’t need a title. It simply exists, and will always exist just as it is.

So as much as you twice denied my advances, I’m pretty sure I know now what you’ve known all along…

We are what we are.

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