I have a confession to make: I've lost count of the number of women I've dated, slept with, hung out with and fallen for.
I don't believe there's a problem with taking the time to explore both your sexuality and your capacity for love. But eventually, you lose a reason to continue on the same path. You keep telling yourself that everyone is special, but you know that's bullshit. If everyone were special, no one would be special.
Back when I was questioning whether or not the greatest love of my life was the greatest love I could possibly find, I remember thinking I needed to take time to explore. I needed time to date, to f*ck, to party, to let loose and live. To YOLO and other crap like that.
So I did. I dated, f*cked and partied like there was no tomorrow. Do I regret it? Sometimes. I don't regret meeting all those women and getting to know them (some better than others). But I do regret thinking that I needed something that I didn't need.
I definitely wanted all of this at the time. I wanted everything so badly I decided to end an amazing relationship. I embraced the young, dumb, filled-with-testosterone lifestyle -- the life of a 20-something male -- in the real Sin City: Manhattan.
The city treated me very well. There were models. Dancers. Strippers. FIT students. Life was good -- hell, it was great. Until, of course, I wised up.
For some men, getting laid is enough. Not for all, but for many. Maybe even for most.
Most guys aren't looking for more because they don't understand they need more. But with time, all people come to the same conclusion (I say "all," but truth be told, some of us stay stupid): While getting off is great, most of the time, we're better off just masturbating.
Before you shake your head and argue that there is more to life and relationships than sex, know that I agree with you. I've always believed that. I've been a romantic since kindergarten, when I fell for a little girl who learned how to read before I did.
I've always been on a search for the love of my life. But that didn't change the fact that I felt like I hadn't experienced enough to keep my relationship alive. I thought there might be more out there. I thought the grass could be greener on some other side, so I wanted to search for those emerald fields.
I wasn't driven by sex, but I wasn't wise enough to know what I had -- rather, what I could have had.
I was so close. So f*cking close to having a perfect relationship. But it wasn't right. Well, we weren't right. Not that we weren't right for each other, but we just weren't the right people -- we hadn't yet grown into the people we needed to be.
We were lacking. We weren't ready for what we had found in each other.
And it wasn't just me. It was her fault, too.
My love story isn't unique. Half of you reading this will most likely be able to relate. I'm not special. The love I had wasn't special. Yes, it was great. It was amazing. It had tons of potential. But it wasn't special.
It was a learning experience. The last decade of my life has been one long lesson.
And what I've learned is the one thing we all need to understand: In the end, there is only one difference between all those people that you've dated and the person that you're going to marry.
It's not the chemistry. It's not how physically attracted you are to each other. It's not the degrees or jobs you have, what you're doing with your loves or your beliefs. And this is hilarious, since most people consider these things the foundation of a relationship.
Yes, it matters what kind of person your partner is -- but only for the initial spark. The kind of people you are help you fall in love with each other. But they don't affect whether or not you two will last.
So what is it that I'm looking for in the woman that I'll marry? I'm looking for someone who is genuinely and sincerely open-minded. I'm looking for who can distance herself from her beliefs and look at things objectively.
I understand that this may seem like nothing to you, but you're wrong. It's everything.
The problem with people is that we all think what we believe is right. But people are wrong all the time. Most of the beliefs you have are opinions. They're theories. They're thoughts that you don't even fully understand, but you sell them as truth.
This may not seem like an issue when you're on your own, but being in a relationship is different. You're no longer "just you." You're now part of a larger whole, a mini-society.
And as with all societies or groups, opinions will differ. Arguments will occur. Emotions will run high. Slip-ups will happen, and you'll say things that you shouldn't have said.
And my wife needs to be open-minded to these realities.
What I'm looking for in a woman is wisdom. She has to have wisdom to know that our beliefs aren't the end of the story. She has to have the wisdom to know that relationships are built, not found. She needs to be wise enough to see the world not as black or white but as shades of gray.
When you find a woman who can help you see the world for the uncertain, ever-changing, marbled reality that it is, then you haven't just found a real chance at making the relationship work.
You've found someone wise and flexible enough to not get caught up in life's trivialities.