Saturday, August 05, 2006

Living the Story

The following is a response I received to Still Chasing That Excitement. My thanks go out to this young woman who has "been there, done that" and is willing to share the benefit of her experience:

Dear Andrew

I can't help responding after I read "Still Chasing That Excitement", not necessarily to you but to the woman who wrote in asking for advice. I want to share my own experience.

When I finished high school I had an inferiority complex. I had dated a grand total of two people and I never clicked with any of them. They were relationships of context, rather than of feeling. I believed no one could love me because I was ugly and stupid and so on. I'm sure this sounds familiar to many of your readers.

When I entered university I met a guy. He liked me and he did all the right things to go out with me. He asked my phone number, called to ask me out, took me to a movie, then took my hand in his ... all the right steps, just as it was supposed to be. I couldn't believe it. Somebody liked me. And then he said he loved me.

We dated for two years. It was nice but when he asked me to move in with him I just panicked. What?! No way. I was too young, there was no freedom, there was nothing. I already spent enough time with him; there's no way I could have had more. I remember telling my sister exactly what "Still Going Crazy" says: "I wish I had met him later. He'd be perfect to meet at 30 when you want to marry. Right now I'm not ready for this."

So we broke up. I spent two years being single and happy about it. The more free time I had, the more I realized how much he and this relationship had suffocated me. How good it was to be on my own again. My fears that I would end up alone without him were wrong. I could make lots of friends (which I did). I could just have fun (which I did).

A year ago I met someone again. Two weeks later I already knew this was going to be it. When you are meant to be with someone you just know it. Do I still have my doubts? Of course. I keep wondering if I'm good enough for him, if he's going to find someone better. But I know that I love him. I don't doubt it. I know that if I had my way I'd stay with him my whole life and I know that I won't change my mind. I moved in with him after less than a year. I'm more grown-up now so you might say this helped change my attitude. It might be so, but I had that attitude until I met my current partner. I strongly believe that if my former boyfriend had been the right guy I never would have panicked the way I did.

When something's wrong you feel it. It manifests itself in many ways: desire to cheat, boredom, suffocation, panic, desire to run and so on. He might be a nice guy and the kind you think it would be nice to marry (like I said about my first boyfriend) but if he's not for you, he just isn't. That's the way life is.

Sincerely, A Former Cynic


  1. Yeah, but is that saying there's no such thing as being irrational? Maybe the girl (or guy) needs to really think about it. Do our convictions and perspectives not matter in this? She panicked, and maybe that guy wasn't the right guy. But had they stayed together is there any reason to believe they wouldn't be happy?

    Maybe devotion is a quality people need to appreciate more, as opposed to fearing it (or fearing that they can't reciprocate).

    Some people don't want to be in a "ticking" relationship. Former Cynic did the right thing for herself, but perhaps she could've known before getting deeply involved with that first guy, whether or not she would have the capacity to stay with him. She could've spent the time with someone who wasn't looking for such commitment. Instead, this gentleman who did the right things, ends up hurt only because he gave everything he had.

  2. Anonymous5:41 AM

    and you're suggesting the good solution in such a situation is to stay with someone you don't love? he might be hurt by it, but in the end it's best for him too: she won't hold him back anymore from finding someone who truly loves him, something he obviously deserves. they are both stuck in an uncomfortable situation and as much as it might hurt the only way out is the break-up.

    it's pretty obvious in her letter why the whole thing happened: she was afraid she wasn't going to be loved and when someone did, she just grabbed it. i'm sure we've all been simmilarly selfish in our lives and it's something i personally cannot blame her for.

  3. Anonymous6:28 PM

    But also sometimes I think if you stick around a bit, you'll find that your issues aren't so much with the relationship as they are with yourself. In some cases I think you're right and it's best to end it, but I'd give it a couple months before breaking off a serious relationship without any other motive.

  4. I think my first boyfriend and I got through the "butterflies" stage literally in about 20 minutes, once we finally admitted to each other we liked each other. I hate the butterflies stage, but it probably would have been better had it lasted just a bit longer.

    It was always sort of an on-edge relationship and we broke up twice before ending it for good. I haven't found anyone since (after six years) and, rationally, I have to think my lingering misgivings are more related to that--ticking biological clock, fear I'll never find anyone else, resentment that guys like me, just not romantically, blah blah blah--than to anything having to do with him specifically.

    He wasn't perfect, of course, but he was a really good guy and, for the most part, we were well-matched. I loved him but I seem to recall going right from the initial "crush" stage into a slightly jaded "settled" stage. I like the settled stage much better than the butterfly stage but, in this case, it brought a bunch of reality crashing down and we ended pretty quickly. If I had it to do over, I would be more patient. I don't think it would have been "the one" for either of us but I suspect we would have learned a lot and probably parted on better terms.