My brother is three and half years older than I am. He’s about three inches taller and has had exactly three relationships in his lifetime.
At the end of this summer, he’s going to marry a beautiful Spanish woman in a tiny village, tucked beneath the shadow of Madrid on the map.
This past year, he bought a house and, between his heavy construction and fastidious wedding plans, I haven’t seen him as much as I used to. But the other night, I found myself catching up with him over a beer (or three).
My brother and I have never really been on the same page; it’s not that we don’t get along (after the requisite sibling slap-fights, cleverly engineered K’Nex guns and a slew of no-girls-allowed clubs), he’s just always taken after my mother and, I, my father.
He wanted to play guitar, take phones apart and assemble them again and hang out with his friends over beers in a basement. I wanted to meet everyone, ever, chase disco balls and bleed my legacy over every continent… which is probably why I found myself genuinely asking him, “How do you know you’re ready to get married?” over the neck of my beer.
What I really wanted to ask was: Aren’t you scared? Aren’t you terrified? Isn’t there more to see, more to do? How do you know it’s time? Are you making the right decision? Aren’t you too young?
You might chalk it up to our age disparity, but he and I have always looked at dating differently. My brother is what I’d like to call a chronic monogamist. I guess I’m habitually single.
He just shrugged his shoulders, “I never really questioned it.”
He was the opposite of what I had seen in movies, all jitters and cold feet. I was the nervous one… nervous at the slightest bit of responsibility, even to don the bridesmaid's dress though I was 3,000 miles away, and clearly not going to be relied on in any capacity.
He’s always been the stable one, I suppose.
“But you’ve barely ever been single, don’t the what-ifs scare you?”
Every relationship I have ever found myself in has been paralyzed by the FOMO of single life -- of the unchecked conquests and unruly terrain of places I could only go alone.
“I just love her.”
My brother is a lot of things: tall, corny, brilliant and painfully nice. And in a culture that constantly proposes the opposite, he has shown me that nice guys do finish first… and they get gorgeous women to marry them in exotic European destinations.
Whenever I feel tempted -- after a painful date, ignored message or failed relationship – to stomp my feet and declare that there are no good men in this world, I remember that there’s a guy I grew up with, my only brother, who stares at his soon-to-be wife with unabashed adoration.
And I know these generalizations are ridiculous because there are good men in the world, and my own personal pursuits of love aren’t futile.
And no, I’m not nearly ready to say my “I dos” or even to tell another man I love him, but when I (if I ever) feel like it’s time to settle down with someone, I know that the world isn’t filled entirely with evil men looking to break my heart.
I know that there are some guys out there who don’t think it’s weird to treat women with respect or to feel like women are their equals.
I know that my brother and his fiancée both hold up the same tools and help each other build the house that will soon be the home to their future family.
I guess it isn’t always particulary obvious, but, for the most part – sociopaths and heartbreakers aside – people aren’t out to get each other.
I haven’t met that guy yet, I don’t even know if I’ve met a nice guy in a while… but I’m not ready to give up hope because of a few awkward Tinder conversations and that one guy, that one time, who completely shattered my world.
Sometimes it’s hard to see past the obstacles, pain and tears that obscure your vision; sometimes it’s hard to see anything but the bad. But the worst thing you can do is give up, the worst thing you can do is put an entire gender into a box.
For me, it might be the way my brother works tirelessly to impress his soon-to-be; for you, it might be that your father still takes your mother out on date night once a month, or that he still sneaks kisses in the kitchen when he thinks no one is watching.
Or maybe it's a good friend who never misses an anniversary or an ex who you still feel like you should never have let go.
There are good men in this world (and men, there are good women, too). One bad guy does not make all guys bad.
This world is full of individuals and, hopefully, if that’s what you want… one of those many individuals might just be perfect for you.
Photo via We Heart It