Life’s Too Short To Settle For Average Love

Shelby Deeter

There’s going to be enough average things in your life. Love shouldn’t be one of them.

I have a high school friend who got married awhile ago, and I was a groomsman in his wedding. I remembered he said why he was marrying her. He didn’t think he could do any better. To me, that wasn’t a great reason to get married. They are now divorced. There were many other reasons for the divorce, but I always thought just settling was a bad reason to make that lifelong commitment.

I’ve always wanted to find love, but I didn’t want to just settle because I felt I couldn’t do any better.

Just because you get along with someone so well doesn’t mean they are the best for you. Sometimes true love isn’t simple, but in many ways, it’s always worth it. I know it’s hard to do most times, because when there’s nothing really wrong with your relationship there’s no reason to break up, but there is.

If your heart has been telling you something else for awhile, then maybe it’s time to listen to it.

Because you need to and deserve love that leaves you feeling like you have to pinch yourself everyday. If that’s what you want, don’t settle till you have it.

Love should go both ways. If you’re unhappy and crying more than you’re smiling, then leave. Having your life controlled isn’t a sign of love. Always being treated like you’re worthless, but making it up with flowers a few days later isn’t love. You deserve better. Someone’s who’s going to appreciate you and make you a better person.

Love should make you feel invincible not defeated.

If you’ve been wondering if you should go, then go. It doesn’t have to be forever. Take a break if that’s what you want. Don’t stay because you are afraid you won’t find someone else. If your gut feeling has been keeping you up at nights, you need to set yourself free and explore. Go and spend time with friends. Spend time alone if that’s what you need.

And if those roads lead you back to that person, then that’s great. Thinking if someone out there is better for you is enough reason to go. One way or another you will eventually wind up where you’re supposed to. Whether it’s with a new person or back into the arms of the person you left.

I know that is so hard to actually do because it sounds crazy. Why leave a good relationship when nothing is wrong?

Leaving Good Love

I’ve left good love to look for something extraordinary. It was a hard decision to make. I didn’t know if I was messing up a perfectly good relationship. A heart would be broken and tears shed.

It was 2008 and I was in love. It was only the second time I had fallen in love. I was 31. I had been in Taipei, Taiwan for seven months studying Chinese. I found her on a language exchange website. I wanted to meet new friends, practice my Chinese, while helping with their English. I replied to her ad, exchanged a few emails and eventually met for dinner one night.

The night went great and we really hit it off. The next time I saw her was at a New Year’s Eve party she invited me to. Soon after that we began dating. I wasn’t expecting to get into a relationship, but it happened. We had a good relationship. We hardly argued. We were in love and couldn’t have been happier.

About six months later, my feelings changed.

I don’t know why. Call it a gut feeling that I just couldn’t ignore. Nothing was wrong with her. She didn’t do anything that bothered me. Our relationship was fine, but maybe that was the problem. It was just fine.

When it comes to love, I’m a late bloomer. I didn’t have my first serious relationship till I was 25 and that lasted four years. It was great at the beginning, but the last two years were going nowhere because she wanted to get married and I didn’t.

When two people are heading in different directions in life, it’s best to end it. I just knew she wasn’t the one for me and my feelings wouldn’t change. I didn’t have the courage to end it though. I don’t like hurting people. I preferred her to break up with me. I wasn’t a man and I regret that looking back.

The next two years we slowly grew apart. She eventually broke up with me. I felt bad that we both wasted two years of our life. I felt worse that I wasted hers.

Life teaches us hard lessons and it’s up to us to learn from it. That way in the future, if faced with the same situation, we know how to handle it better.

Now I was in the position where the other person was still in love, but I didn’t feel as strongly. This was her first serious relationship. Telling her how I felt would make it 100x worse.

I just couldn’t ignore how I was feeling. I couldn’t force myself to bring back the old feelings for her. Love can’t be manufactured. It’s a feeling.

Following my heart

Almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.  – Steve Jobs

My gut kept telling me something over and over. I’ll never forget it what it was:

“I know there’s someone out there better for me.”

I can’t explain why I felt that. I was a guy who has always been in the friend zone with girls, briefly dated one person for 2 months in college (pretty sad), and just had one serious relationship.

Now I’m in a relationship and after six months my gut is telling me there is someone else better for me out there?

He must be absolutely out of his freaking mind.

Call it a gut feeling. Call it my heart talking to me. Whatever it was, it wasn’t shutting up.

Handling the situation wasn’t going to be easy. I knew it was going to hurt her. I hate being the bad guy. There was no easy way to tell her, but I had to do it.

One night on the phone I told her. I told her that we needed to take a break. Of course, she didn’t understand why. There was nothing wrong with the relationship, but for me there was.

I didn’t want to completely end the relationship because I wasn’t sure yet. Maybe taking a break would help me realize she was great for me. Maybe my gut feeling would change its mind and tell me to go back with her. But I needed to know so I would never question if I should be with her or not.

We still saw each other once in awhile afterward. It definitely changed the dynamics of our relationship though. I know she hoped that I’d change my mind and go back to the old Benny. I wondered if I was making the wrong decision. Did I just screw up a good thing? There were days when I was unhappy because I made her feel like this. It was hard. When we did meet, it was okay at first, but just became awkward.

Would I ever find someone better? 

Sometimes things happen and we just don’t have an explanation for it. Life is more interesting this way.

About a month later, I went to a nightclub with friends from the kickboxing club I was a part of. I’ve written about how I had to overcome my fear to join the kickboxing club. Then I had to get over my fear of going to a nightclub. I’m glad I got over my fears because that night would change my life.

Of course, I didn’t know that at the time. I was just excited about all-you-can-drink alcohol.

We get to this tiny club early. It’s near a couple big universities including the one where I attended. There’s no music playing yet. The lights are still on. There are some people already there just talking.

My friend walks up to a small standing table because he knew the two girls there. He introduced me to them. One was named Eleanor and I thought she was cute. It wasn’t love at first sight or instantly knowing I’m going to marry this girl. I do remember I was impressed with her English because most Taiwanese girls didn’t speak English that well.

I tried to make conversation, but she was pretty short with her answers. However, I didn’t get an attitude from her like some girls give off that say “get away you creep.”

The whole night we didn’t talk much, but made lots of eye contact and smiling. I was trying to get her to dance with me, but she kept saying no. I was having a great time though with my friends.

Towards the end of the night, I finally got her to dance with me. Even though we talked very little that night, while dancing with her I just knew things were going well. I had my face on her neck and I think she really liked that. She was holding me pretty tight too. I knew I could kiss her, but I was just teasing her. I saw my kickboxing instructor and gave him a high five. He saw what was going on.

After the song was over, we just separated and went our own ways. Nothing was said. It was kinda of weird actually.

Later, I saw her in the crowd again and she was signaling that she was leaving. So I made my way over to her. I don’t remember what happened or if anything was said, but we started kissing.

It was one of those kisses where if we were outside, we wouldn’t have noticed it was raining. If we did notice, we wouldn’t care.

After the kiss, she left with her friends. I didn’t ask for her phone number. At the time I have no idea why. It’s one of those things I can’t explain even to this day when she asks me why I didn’t ask. I just don’t know. If fate was going to bring us back together, I suppose it would.

It showed up pretty quickly.

I stayed longer and at one point went outside to get some fresh air. I noticed her friend and a couple other friends she came with were standing outside. I thought they had left. She explains to me that they did leave, but Eleanor wanted to come back to see me one last time. She walked inside the club and couldn’t find me. I don’t know why because I was inside and it wasn’t that big. I asked where she was now and she said she just got in a taxi.

One of her guy friends just told her to give me Eleanor’s number. Haha. I think he was annoyed that they came back. I gave her a call. We talked a little and she wasn’t going to come back now because she was almost home.

I later learned that Eleanor wanted to come back to say bye to me one more time. She said the kiss was the best part of her night. She thought that night was the last time she would ever see me.

That was on a Friday. That following Monday I sent her a text message. I thought about what I should text her all weekend. I wanted to send her a good one. I was at school in the library studying. I sent her this text:

You just popped in my head. Now get out. :)

She responded by saying she couldn’t breathe. I was making her nervous and flustered. She told me to stop texting her cause all she was doing was smiling and couldn’t focus on her work.  At the end of the day, she said her face was sore from smiling.

We exchanged more texts that week. That weekend she invited to go with her and her friends for the day. We ended up at her friend’s house for a BBQ that night. After that, her friend dropped us off back in the city at a subway station. It was past midnight so there were no more trains. She offered to call cabs, but we said no need.

I wasn’t ready to go home and neither was she. I asked if she wanted to hang out more and we just started walking. We both had no idea where were walking to. Just walked. We ended up at an outdoor public memorial. It’s actually where I went to kickboxing classes twice a week. A gorgeous outdoor venue. It was about 3am when we got there. It’s a huge place, so we just kept walking around and talking. Surprisingly, there were other people still there. Tourists and people hanging out even at that late hour.

We finally sat down on some stairs. Despite mosquitos feasting on us, we kept on talking. I felt like I could talk to her all night and that’s what we ended up doing. The sun was rising and now we were seeing the morning walkers and joggers.

I’ve had the typical crushes on girls. I’ve been in love twice, but she was on a whole different level. It was crazy. When I wasn’t studying Chinese, I was thinking about her all the time. 24 hours a day. Seven days a week. I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t quiet my mind. I was always thinking about her. I couldn’t explain why my feelings for her were different than any girl before her. They just were.

A relationship with Eleanor wasn’t going to be that easy though. She was leaving in a month to move to Sydney, Australia. She was going to get a certificate for teaching English, find a job, and stay there for one or two years. That’s why she wanted to come back and find me one last time that night we met. She thought she would never see me again. We still spent a lot of time together that month before she left. We just couldn’t stay away from each other.

I was torn. I had this comfortable relationship with someone else. Nice and safe, but something was missing. Now I have this girl who drove my heart crazy but was moving to another country.

Eleanor knew about the other girl and what told her. The other girl didn’t know about Eleanor. Juggling two girls was not something I enjoyed actually.

When Eleanor did leave for Sydney, it was a difficult goodbye. I remember that night like it was yesterday. Her friend gave her a ride to the airport, but she stopped near my apartment to say bye. I wrote her a handwritten letter to give to her when she left. Tears were coming down my face when I was writing it. Not cause I was sad, but just so happy to have met her. She hoped our paths would cross again in the future, but didn’t know if that’d ever happen. Again, I had this gut feeling that we would see each other again sooner than that. I wasn’t worried.

We texted and Skyped every single day. She was meeting new people and hoping to meet guys, but I didn’t want that. I wanted us to be together.

I had a decision to make. If I was serious about Eleanor, I had to break up with the other person for good. If her heart was broken a little, this would shatter it. It would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done because I don’t want to make people feel bad. I don’t want people to hate me, but she would feel both.

But choosing Eleanor had a lot of unknowns. I didn’t even know it would even work between us. I was in Taiwan and going back to Florida and she was in Sydney. Did I want to do a long distance relationship? My four-year relationship was long distance, even though that was only 2.5 hours apart. I told myself I would never do another long distance relationship again because it was too hard.

Never say never.

So I broke up with the other girl. She cried a lot. Cried at work. It upset her, but it was the right thing to do. I wasn’t in love with her anymore and she deserved to find someone who would love her. She probably wondered where it all went wrong. I probably gave her a vague answer because there wasn’t anything that would make sense to her.

We had a great relationship and great times, but something was missing. I needed to find out if there was someone better for me and that led me to Eleanor.

I had no idea how this was going to turn out though, but I took a chance.

Sometimes things happen for a reason

Despite how many time zones you are apart, if two people are meant to be together, the universe works it magic to make it happen. You just have to follow along with the unknown path.

After talking to Eleanor every day, I decided that I had to be with her in the same city. I was enjoying my time in Taipei and going to class, but without her there, it wasn’t the same for me. The only thing that made me happy was in Australia.

Still, I wasn’t sure if I was going to go. Before I met Eleanor, I had my sights on earning a scholarship for the next semester. I really wanted it so I could keep studying. There were a few given away and the recipients would be the ones who scored the best on a written and audio exam. So I studied my butt off every single day.

So even with Eleanor in Sydney and me wanting to see her, I still tried hard to earn this scholarship.

I took the test and felt pretty good. The day the results were posted, I was so nervous. This was going to decide my fate. I checked my scores posted at school and saw I didn’t score well enough to get one. I did well though, but not well enough.

Eleanor was happy because that meant I should go to Sydney to visit her. I was bummed I didn’t get it, but maybe it happened for a reason. Looking back now, not getting the scholarship was the best thing that could have happened.

I went to Sydney. Left school before the current semester was over actually. I couldn’t wait. I was going to stay for two months.

I had always dreamt of visiting Sydney. I never thought it would be a reality, but now I’m was in Sydney, with a girl I met just three months ago. If you would have told me that a year ago, I would have just laughed at such a ridiculous scenario. The old Benny would have never done this. He would have thought about all the reasons not to go.

I had to go this time.

We lived in a tiny studio apartment. Life was amazing. We feel in love in Sydney.

Two months later when I had to leave, it was sad. Lots of tears for both of us. I had an airplane ticket back home to Florida that was about to expire. First I went back to Taipei, spent another month there, packed up my stuff, and then came back home. I decided to come home for good and not continue to go to school.

A week after I came home to Florida, I called her cell phone. She was at the travel agency looking for a ticket to go back to Taipei. I was surprised. She couldn’t find a job and just thought she’d go home. I suggested why not come to Florida instead. She had a tourist visa already because she came to the United States the year before. It didn’t take her long to decide, but she said yes. That next week, I picked her up from the airport.

We didn’t plan this at all. We both said yes without thinking too much about it. Sometimes it works out better that way.

She stayed here for six months, which was the maximum for her visa. She went back home and about six months later, I went to Taipei to visit her.

We did the long distance thing for about two years. Despite not wanting to do another long distance relationship, I was more than willing to do it with her.

Three years after meeting that night in the club, having a dance and a kiss, we got married in Las Vegas. We just had our two year anniversary in October.

Trust Your Gut

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

The quote by Steve Jobs described exactly what I had to do to find extraordinary love.

Meeting her changed my life in so many ways. I know I’m a lucky guy. Sometimes we butt heads, but it’s worth it.

I didn’t take the safe route to find her. I had to break up with someone, which I had never done before. I had to make decisions without knowing the outcome. I had to follow my gut even though it made no sense to me. I had to overcome my fears and do things I never imagined I’d be doing. The risk was worth the reward.

I share my story because maybe you’re wondering as well. You’re in love, but something is missing. You keep wondering if there’s someone better for you. You’re having doubts. Everything is fine, but that’s the problem. If so, then take a break. Go and explore.

Like Steve Jobs said, trust whatever is guiding you.

I also hear from some of you about the unhealthy relationships you are in. I can see it, your friends can see it, but you aren’t wiling to face the truth. If you’re unhappy in your relationship, you have to leave too. I promise it won’t be the end of the world. Real love shouldn’t make you feel like you do now. Don’t be afraid about being alone. Embrace it. Enjoy the freedom you will have again.

Don’t be afraid that you won’t find love again. You never know who will come into your life when you least expect it. If you want to attract the right type of person, you’ve got to change first. Be the type of person that would attract the man or woman of your dreams. By being single again, you have the freedom to focus on you again.

When you feel happy about yourself, you’re going to attract better people in your life. I know I would not have met Eleanor if I was the old Benny. The one that hated life, blamed others, stayed at home all day when not working, complained, and lazy. If I did meet her, I doubt she would have wanted to get to know me more. Even I wouldn’t want to spend time with a person that I just described!

When I met her, I was much happier. I enjoyed going to school and living in Taipei. I loved the freedom I had. I was in the best physical shape of my life thanks to twice a week kickboxing classes. That gave me a lot of confidence. I didn’t have the stress of having to deal with work either. I was out with friends so I was in a good mood.

I know some of you might think it sounds like a movie and love doesn’t happen this way. You might think it’s not possible for you. Even we can’t believe our story sometimes. It’s too crazy to even make up though.

I know what I had to do in order to find her. I had to take a leap of faith without knowing what was going to happen.

If I didn’t listen to my gut, none of this would have happened. More often than not, when I listen to it, it is usually right. Even if I don’t believe him at first.

I have him to thank for extraordinary love and pointing me in the right direction. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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