Screech. Bang. I was in the kitchen, a place I rarely frequent. I was helping cook dinner with the guy I was dating.
He'd assigned me the task of peeling garlic (which, it turns out, is deceptively difficult). I'd obliged. He'd kissed me on the cheek and left the room for a brief moment.
It hadn't even crossed my mind that I'd ended up in the kitchen. But then it hit me (probably at the same time the pan did). What in God’s name was I doing in the kitchen? I don’t usually step foot in there.
In fact, I’ve never gone out of my way to whip up anything special for myself. The fact that I’d made the conscious decision to help someone else make a meal could mean only one thing: I liked him.
Sh*t. There was just one tiny problem with liking this guy -- I wasn’t allowed to.
See, there was something about his life that wasn’t quite compatible with mine, and it was a deal-breaker. A fatal flaw, if you will. From the moment I got to know him, I knew he wouldn’t be my "forever"; he would just be my "for now."
At that point, my apprehension was only a feeling -- a sense that something wasn't right. But I stayed even when I could have walked away. I didn't have a reason to leave. The present was all that mattered; the future was hazy and distant.
One part in the game of love stings more than the rest. It stings more, even, than the breakup. It stings more than being single and crush-less.
Hell, it may even sting more than seeing an ex with a new girlfriend. It happens when you like someone a lot but know, deep down, that he isn't The One.
It's like having a diamond necklace taunt you through the glass of a store window. You're so damn close to the real deal -- that unexplainable, potentially mythical feeling you've been chasing your whole life. But you aren't there yet.
It’s like a holiday romance: fun for the time being, but inherently not meant to last. Proceeding with caution, you calculate your every move until the end of the game, at which point someone will forfeit. And that person will be you.
After all, what kind of idea is "The One"? Is it even remotely credible? I thought I was just running around in the dark, hoping to find someone -- anyone -- who felt the same magnetic pull for me as I did for him.
And you have that with him, so you stay by his side. But it isn’t all that simple.
You find yourself justifying the romance.
Friends prod you incessantly about this. They wonder why you're seeing him, what you've got to gain. And in a sense, they’re right.
But they also couldn’t be more wrong. All you’ve been thinking about is what you have to lose.
We’ve been taught that even the relationships that don't work out are bound to teach us something. There’s always a lesson to be learned. Self-discovery doesn’t stop at the experiences that give us answers.
It appears even after we end the relationships that gave us more questions than answers.
I stayed in the romance, but I found myself unable to lose myself in the moment. This -- losing myself -- is something I hope to see in my "perfect" love story, which I have yet to find.
He becomes a list of tally marks.
You’re no longer dealing with a real person. He’s been reduced to a checklist of pros and cons, and a stalemate has been holding you hostage for a while.
There are as many right things about him as there are wrong ones. One side is never heavy enough to tip you into making an executive decision. Individually, his qualities can be redeeming. As a whole, he isn’t the perfect package.
You’ll tell your children about him one day, but he won't be their father.
Time feels like it’s being wasted.
Guilty questions flood your mind. Am I wasting his time? What about my time? Or is this all just a learning experience, and it's perfectly acceptable that it won't turn into anything more? Must everything be a means to an end?
The question of whether you should invest your time elsewhere is relentless. Time has become the enemy; time drives you maniacal. You know your days with him are numbered.
When things eventually end, you’ll still be sad.
And you’ll surprise yourself with just how sad you’ll be. You slapped an expiration date onto him from the beginning because you knew it couldn’t be any other way.
The upper hand was yours, and when it’s over, you haven’t only lost him; you’ve lost your power. You had grown comfortably into a model that was designed with strict limitations of comfort.
It’s a loss worth mourning. Only after stepping outside of it are you able to realize that you were able to be your truest self with him. No expectations meant no pressure, and you miss that.
You ask yourself what you’re even looking for.
One day, you wake up and realize something: You got in too deep with him. And though you got yourself out, you can’t help but think you wrongfully pushed him away.
Because if he wasn’t The One, then who is? Am I kidding myself for thinking there’s someone out there who was tailored just for me?