I know that sounds weird, but hear me out.
In one of L’Engle’s Austin series a character – Vicky if I’m not mistaken- says that when she sees pictures of people from before she knew them, they seem half–formed, like cookies that haven’t been baked.
My husband and I were talking today about Valentine’s Day and all the people who are alone or feeling lonely.
He was a bachelor for a long time before we met. During that time of his life, he said he’d try to do things with other singles on Valentine’s Day.
Here’s the thing though – he was waiting for me to grow up but didn’t know it.
We hadn’t met during those lonely holidays. When we did meet, I was slightly younger (okay, a year) than his personal rule about dating. He took a chance and asked me out anyway.
The Valentine’s Day before that we both spent alone. Him probably ironing in his apartment while watching High Fidelity. He could turn ironing into an feature film length event. Me definitely curled up on the couch, playing Animal Crossing on my DS. I collected all the things (well, almost – all the things I wanted anyway).
I could never have been his high school prom date. I could never have dated him in college or grad school. I wasn’t old enough. Even the Valentine’s before might have been a little weird. It wouldn’t have worked until we met.
I’m not saying that if you’re single that you should date someone significantly younger or older than yourself, I’m thinking it’s more like … maybe you’re still unbaked. Maybe you have more growing and self-discovery to do before settling down. Here are three things I learned before settling down: to broaden my circle, frame my relationship with respect, and that though rejection hurts, when one door closes, another will open (even if it takes a while).
Broaden Your Circle
Speaking of growing, meeting new people is important for expanding your options. If online dating doesn’t work for you, then I suggest trying a new hobby – trying out a Meetup event, taking a class in something like ballroom dancing. Are you guaranteed to meet someone new? No. You might make a new friend though, and that can help as well. My husband introduced his best friend to his future wife.
Frame it with Respect
Communication is extremely important in a relationship. No one will read your mind. People don’t all want the same things or act the same way. If he hadn’t asked me out the way he did, I probably would have said no. He was respectful in his communication. He put no pressure on me, and left it at that.
This was in stark contrast to other boyfriends, coworkers, and people I had dealt with previously. I had plenty of people treat me without respect. I had plenty of people treat me like I was a commodity.
When One Door Closes, Another Opens
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is, “if you don’t ask the answer is already no”. Sometimes there really isn’t anything to lose in asking someone out.
Rejection is hard – be it professional or romantic, or from a family member or friend. Not asking means you’ve already eliminated yourself from the opportunity. The worst they can do is say no and be rude. On the other hand, they might be the person you grow old with. My husband worked at the same company as me and asked me out. Now we’re married and have a baby.
Speaking of rejection… there was a guy who sat next to me in one of my classes. At first I didn’t really like him. He was cynical and had a bad boy, edgy vibe that seemed like he was trying too hard. He wore down on me though. He was pretty handsome and interesting. He also was employing some psychological hacks (like asking me to do increasingly larger favors). Eventually I kind of liked him. I opened up to him, only to discover he had a wife and son. He never wore a ring or mentioned them previously. I was very disappointed. I also wasn’t going to cheat.
Years later I saw him in a restaurant. He had changed. He was no longer quite so appealing. Framed in contrast against my husband, I was glad that one got away.
The Win-Win Scenario
Maybe I have a little of Captain Kirk in me. Maybe I, like Whitman, believe we create our own fortune.
Either way, I don’t believe in a no- win scenario. I believe that True Love™ is the person who is true to you and that will work to make a future with you.
In the words of Justin Bieber, “Marriage is very hard”.