My only real experience with love is that I loved going out and hooking up with women. I was having the time of my life, and then the unthinkable happened: I caught feelings.
My first real sexual encounter occurred when I was 14, and throughout high school and my first couple of freshman years of college, I had maybe two serious girlfriends and a handful of one-night stands and flings.
By the time I turned 21, my game had truly developed, resulting in some referring to me as a "player." I've had sex with many women since then, and I had no plans to slow down. (After all, I'm 25 years old and in my sexual prime.)
About a month ago, I was hanging out with some friends, one male and one female. I haven't had many female friends in my life whom I haven't had been sexually involved with. That's because even if both parties claim to be down to bang with no strings attached, someone inevitably catches feelings. She and I sort of had an unexplainable connection, but I had no plans to be intimate with her or anyone, for that matter.
I was perfectly content with slaying the game on Tinder during the week and at bars or clubs on the weekend. Somewhere down the line, we started growing closer, even though she wasn't the type of woman I would usually go for. She's absolutely gorgeous, but she's extremely independent. Usually, I like having a certain level of control in a relationship.
Anyway, we hang out quite a bit now, and we cuddled for the first time the other day. I haven't even had sex with her yet, and things are moving slowly.
I realized I was really growing to like this woman. I told my parents about her, and they are ecstatic that I am actually showing interest in the possibility of a lasting relationship. Also, I genuinely enjoy spending time with her. Whether we're having coffee or playing laser tag, I'm always enjoying myself.
We even engage in deep conversation. I've started to communicate on an emotional level that I never have before. It feels weird, but it's a good weird. My biggest qualm about this situation is that I'm falling for this woman in my prime. I always kind of figured I would settle down in my early to mid-30s, when I had my career and general life together.
So now, I've come to this major crossroad in my life. I have a gorgeous woman in my life whom I have a real connection with, but I don't know if I am ready to settle down. I always figured it would be easy to hang up my cape when the time was right, and I just don't think the time is right.
If I choose not to pursue this relationship and pull out, I very well may be missing out on my soulmate. I don't really believe in soulmates, but I've never felt this way before. It's certainly a rarity. If I choose to roll with this, I could be missing out on the rest of my prime bachelor years, which is a genuine fear of mine.
I lost my best friend and partner in crime on June 27, 2015 to marriage. I've just found out he's getting divorced. We're both bachelors again, and now, I'm the one who's considering retiring from the field. I really like this woman, but I just wish I met her in, like, five years.