You never forget the moment you met the love of your life.
You can still recall the body heat, and the softness of your thigh touching theirs on a C-train at rush hour in the middle of summer. Making sudden, but intensely satisfying eye contact while you’re reaching for the same cold brew at your local coffee shop. Or even losing yourselves in the constant laughter, and strangely shared dark humor on a blind date set up by your best friend who is a terrible matchmaker (you can lie about meeting on Tinder or Grindr, or don’t it’s 2018! The age of tech dating)
My best friend always talks about how we can become so amazingly swept up in the heat of the first 6 weeks of dating; the late night dinners and bottles of wine. The hot and sweaty make-out sessions in the back of Ubers, and the mind-numbing, body shaking, hot, heat of ensuing sexy times, that we start to ignore the red flags that tell us things aren’t working. It’s like the rush of being on The Bachelor and everyone wants to fall so far, and so fast in love that they don’t stop to think whether or not it’s a good idea. The only thought is that final rose, the wedding, being able to tell your grandkids how amazing your love was through IG filters and saved stories.
At the end of week 6, things are a bit more difficult. Who cares about the fact he has a dog, and you’re allergic, and you like Indian food and he hates spice. Small potatoes! He makes you feel SO good when you’re cuddled up together and running his fingers through your hair. That’s what matters right?
I dated a guy in college, and things were amazing at the beginning. He was tall, handsome, smart, and funny (to me at least, all my friends hated him – RED FLAG) but it was exciting because we were sneaking around. The excitement of maybe being caught by our friends or his family holding hands, exchanging glances, or being a bit too “familiar” was exhilarating. PEAK libido.
The sneaking around was great until it wasn’t. He was still in the closet, and I needed (read wanted) him to come out for me, if not for himself. If I was living a happy and free life, why couldn’t he? Did he think he had more at stake being a tall, handsome, wealthy, privileged white man than I did as a mostly still tall (5’11 is tall!) bisexual black man? We both had our paths to walk, whether they were straight and narrow, or if every day was a winding road. We’ll get a little bit closer.
Either way, I loved him, and it wasn’t right for me to try to pull him out of a place it took me many tries to saunter out of. So I stayed. We ended up moving to different states, which proved to be more of a disaster because trying to have a long distance relationship with someone who isn’t sure about themselves, or their love for you is a goddamned nightmare. But again, I stayed.
I looked through my albums on Facebook, my posts on Instagram, and through the saved, carefully curated nudes on my iPhone and thought about all the good times we had, and that’s what I focused on. When he finally comes around, everything will be good! It will all be worth it – that’s what I kept telling myself.
It only got harder, and harder. But then there was a point where I had to test his love. Our love. It was a freak snowstorm (is it really freak if it’s in winter? Probably not, but this was like, a blizzard) that interrupted our plans to spend a few days before Christmas together as we would be spending actual Christmas Day with our respective families.
The snow was piling up, and inch after inch created a less visible road for him to drive, since every flight at a major airport had been canceled. “If you love me, you’ll find a way to see me.” I texted him, (ending the sentence with a period to let him know I was serious) turning my phone over and finishing my glass of Beaujolais with my best friend, pouring myself another.
What length could I ask him to go to prove his love to me? How many roads must a man walk (or drive) down, before you can call him a man? Even though we lived in different states on either side of the country, he still wasn’t out, and all my friends hated him? Not to mention he was super Christian, I often thought he was saving himself for Jesus until he gave himself to me. And he was also a Republican (more of an issue now, than back then), and he liked guns and thought Olive Garden was great Italian food.
I had overlooked all those things because I had this idea of him in my head; of who he could be, my ideal version of him. The terrible thing is: I wanted him to risk his life, and prove his love to me just to feel like it was worth it, while ignoring all the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad red flags that told us we weren’t meant to be together.
I wish I could say I messaged him, or even called him to tell him not to come. That he didn’t need to prove his love to me, but I can’t say that. He drove eight hours to see me, risking his life in a blizzard, and it is still one of the most romantic things anyone has ever done for me. We had an amazing night together too. But, we broke up six months later. It just wasn’t meant to be.
These days, as I traverse that treacherous dating superhighway, whenever I see that red flag, I go the other fucking way. You live, you learn.