Dating in your 20s is pretty confusing, or it was for me, at least. I had done a lot of casual dating. I was all about meeting new people and trying new things. There were nice guys, lame ducks and the fellas who didn't make it past the barroom make-out session.
Then I thought met the “the one.” He was carefree, charming, smart and sexy. I thought I had hit the jackpot. But, he had a wandering eye (and by "eye," I mean dick). It led to jealousy, deceit and many arguments. That sh*t was toxic. Needless to say, he was not the magical soulmate I thought I had found.
When it ended, I felt like I had just gone through a divorce. I wanted nothing that resembled a relationship. I was happy just doing me. Then, I met the man who would become my fiancé. That night, he told me I was a “beautiful and vibrant girl,” and he was just happy to have met me.
#Swoon, right? The signs were all there from the beginning; I just had to get over my own sh*t to see them. Here are five signs I knew my boyfriend was the man I wanted to marry:
1. He wanted to spend time with me, even when he wasn't with me.
This sounds obvious, right? Duh, the guy you're seeing should want to spend time with you. But, coming out of a very broken (and sketchy) relationship, this notion wasn't automatic for me. At the beginning, I assumed when we weren't together, he was probably grabbing drinks with a hot woman from work or ripping it up with his buddies. But, that was never the case.
He made plans with me a few times a week. He texted or called when we weren't together. He didn't let things linger or play the waiting game so he didn't look too eager. He made it clear he was into me and that I was a priority.
2. We did more than just drink.
Dating is pretty awkward at first, so social lubricant is a must. I mean, I chased two slices of pizza with at least six cold ones on our first date. Those jitters are just asking to be drowned.
We'd get together for dinner and drinks, sure, but as things progressed, so did our outings. I remember the first time we woke up early to take a bike ride, on a Sunday morning no less. It was a first for me, that's for sure. But, it was so nice to get up and do something different (sans headache). He wanted to share more than hangovers with me, and it's led to many new experiences since.
3. We talked about the future.
In other relationships, talking about the future a week or even a month ahead seemed a little too risky to discuss. Who knew what would happen in 30 days? Both parties remained pretty steadfast on just focusing on the present. It's better to be safe than sorry, right?
I was all about proceeding with caution. I wasn't making any promises; I was just taking it one day at a time. While I was busy not making any plans, my then-boyfriend was suggesting restaurants, weekend getaways and his friend's wedding that was two months away.
It was becoming clear I was in his big picture, and I started feeling safe. I was comfortable inviting him out with friends and having him meet my family on Father's Day. I knew it was going somewhere.
4. He took care of me when I thought I was alone.
I'll never forget the moment I realized I had a partner. It was a blizzard-like New England night, and I was heading home from work with a pout of my face. Despite living with three roommates, I knew I'd be the sucker stuck shoveling the driveway out if I had any hope of using my car. I shared my dread with my then-boyfriend, and I told him I'd swing by later if I could dig myself out.
As I was walking home from the train stop, throwing myself a pity party along the way, I came upon two bundled-up men in front of my apartment. My boyfriend and his brother gave me a wave as they saw me approach. He had loaded up his snow blower, armed his brother with a shovel and drove over to my place to get the job done.
I was in disbelief. He had gone out of his way to save me from one of winter's most annoying tasks. I never even had to ask. I knew right then that this was the kind of person I wanted to spend my days with.
5. He lets me do me.
We couldn't be more different. He goes to bed early. I like to stay up a little later. He likes to stay in to save money, while I like to go out and make it rain (drunk me is a baller). He's a lake guy. I'm a beach gal. He hates "The Walking Dead," while I hate that I won't know who Negan offed until next season.
While these differences have led to an argument here and there, but they've also helped me grow. (But seriously, who hates "The Walking Dead?") We've found common ground. We split our summers between the lake and the beach. I'm getting over my FOMO and enjoying wine nights with Netflix.
We go to bed at a reasonable hour most nights, but I still go out with friends and stay up to catch my shows. I still want to live on the ocean someday, and he's cool with all that. He has managed to rein in the party girl without subduing her. This guy must have superpowers or something.
There will be ups and downs, and fights over this and that. He may never like "The Walking Dead" (nobody's perfect), but he's the one for me. The signs have been there from the beginning. We'll be married in September, and then he's seriously stuck with me. If all else fails, we'll always have pizza and cold ones in common.