I always see relationship advice about not “wasting time” dating someone who has incompatible future goals with you; specifically, dating someone who does not ever want to get married and never wants to have children, when those are two things you have always hoped for in the future. I agree you should not enter a relationship with someone who has such opposing views on these issues and hope that one of you will eventually change your minds if you stay together long enough. You should never enter a relationship and hope for someone to change: love them for who they are, as they are. Don’t hope they will change, don’t expect them to change.
But sometimes things happen, like love finding you unexpectedly: right after meeting someone for the first time, standing underneath the stars after a dinner party, and kissing because it is the perfect moment. Sometimes you end up driving hours to see that person, giving up your spring break to take care of them while they’re sick, and calling each other late into the night. Sometimes, when love is novel and everything is amazing, you forget about the long-term goals and you say, “I love you” to each other, and you sit there in a bar surrounded by friends and agree to be boyfriends.
It’s true that as I get older I’ve started to focus more on the longer term vision of my life. As the death knell for DOMA rang out and marriage becomes more and more of a possibility in my life, it’s true I will look in the future for someone who wants the same things I want. But I cannot, and will not, accept that my time was “wasted” in any way.
And although I will be more careful in the future I will not let the future worry me in the present. Although my relationship ended because our long term goals were incompatible with each other, how can I minimize the joy I experienced? How can I claim all of my time was wasted when I got to meet a remarkable human being, learn about them physically, emotionally, and mentally?
Over the course of my relationship I have memories I will cherish forever like: jet skiing for the first time together, going on all the dangerous rides at the county carnival, dancing together at law school “prom,” breaking onto the top of a bell tower and kissing over the city skyline, and just that first time talking over a cup of tea and laughing at, and with, each other.
Just because my relationship did not work out does not mean I wasted time. Sure, I may have found someone just as amazing, if not more so, and sure the pains I went through in my relationship would never have happened to me, but so what? There is an equal chance I would have dated multiple people who are less than amazing, there is a possibility I would have remained single the entire time. These are the memories I have, these are the things I will cherish, this is the person I got to know so wholly and thoroughly, this is the person I opened up to and shared all of myself with.
Because of a relationship some would say was doomed to fail and claim is a waste of time I learned more about myself, I grew, I had my ideas challenged, and I am all the better for it.
There was nothing wasted. And I will never stop loving you.