I never worried about falling in love when I was younger. I took it for granted. It was one of those things that would just happen to me without trying. So all my energy was spent studying and planning my career. I did fall for people every single day; the lanky boy at the pool, the captain of the school football team, the guitarist in a band I sang in… it just never felt like love and I was ok with that.
Hassan was my first boyfriend, we met in grad school and became best friends. I saw him through a break-up, he saw me through my struggle to find a career, my endless fights with mum and we saw each other through 3 years of growing up before we started dating. But it was never exciting. It wasn’t what it was ‘supposed’ to feel like. My gut told me that I should be swept off my feet by a fantastic alpha male who was the life of every party and intellectually brilliant. This comfortable, boring, staying in and watching a movie on the couch could not be the great romance I had saved myself for.
We dragged it along for four years and finally called it off amidst long distance text fights and severe (albeit justified) insecurity on his part. I should have been shattered. My friends and family thought I was crazy, implored me to reconsider losing the greatest gentleman they knew. I hated being told that I would never meet a man who loved me as much. Of course I would, I’d show them!
Almost immediately I met Kevin. I had never imagined that I could feel such chemistry and attraction over a chance 90 second meeting in a hotel lobby. Something inside me exploded and I knew that my entire life had been constructed around the path that would lead me to this man in this moment. We couldn’t get enough of each other; he would send me furtive emails while his girlfriend wasn’t around and we would make plans to fly to another city and be together. I assuaged the guilt by convincing myself that a girlfriend couldn’t stand in the way of true love.
We’d met during the interview for the same job and we both got it. The first chance we got to fly in to Singapore together – we did it. I had saved myself for marriage all these years. And just like that, at the ripe old age of 27, I gave myself to someone I barely knew. But it felt right, like we were going to end up together somehow anyway so none of this mattered.
He left his girlfriend and we moved out to the same city together. He made me laugh, the lovemaking was incredible, we literally spent days on end with no one for company but each other and never got bored. It was almost perfect – I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.
You know those lists you make – with the 3 must have qualities and 7 negotiables you look for in a man? Well – I had one for years. But once I got with him, that list was torn and burnt in a ritualistic cleansing fire. The universe had spoken. No matter that he was an atheist who had no relationship with his family and didn’t believe in monogamy; I would rewrite my must haves to describe him. Only, I couldn’t.
I learnt through two very painful years of broken promises, naked pictures of other women in his emails, no birthday phone calls or Valentine’s Day dates that you can’t pretend that it’s working just because you FEEL something. Just because my hormones were out of whack for the only man I had ever had sex with, I thought with my heart instead of my head; my stupid little naïve heart. I remember crying myself to sleep, sobbing curled up on the shower floor, getting drunk and calling him with angry rants, hiding our dates from friends and family who had warned me to move on.
The heart wants what it wants though; and sometimes what it wants is unadulterated misery in exchange for a few special moments of love.
Finally, when I found out that he was on Tinder while abroad on a work project, I had enough. I was planning my engagement with the man of my dreams while he was shagging some random/s senseless. Needless to say, I was devastated. I took 3 months off work, packed my anti-depressant pills and went home to mom. I needed to regroup.
I was 30, successful, independently wealthy and single. But what about my gut telling me that Kevin was the one? That he would change? That this would last forever and I would prove all his detractors wrong? Turns out my gut is an idiot, just like my heart.
But wait – this story has a happy ending. When I went back home, I started to see more of Hassan (remember the first boyfriend?). He had stayed single for three years since I ended it because he always believed we would be together. He would come see me with no expectations, no questions and no demands. We would just hang, watch movies on the telly, get a coffee at Starbucks – you know, normal, boring, comfortable stuff. But I began to enjoy it and miss him when he wasn’t there. Three months later, I had completely gotten over Kevin and asked Hassan to be my companion, my partner and my lover. And he agreed. Just like that, no drama, no conditions. I drew up that list again and he fulfilled 8 of the 10 criteria. I keep it handy now to remind myself when doubt sets in.
It’s been a blissful few months, we are planning a wedding and I haven’t cried for a boy in ages!
So what do I want all my beautiful, accomplished, single friends out there to know?
1. Make a list, check it twice.
2. True love is comfortable and unconditional, it’s got your back.
3. Your heart and gut can be douches – refer to points 1 and 2 when in doubt
4. Remember when your mum said to marry a man who loves you more than you can ever hope to love him? She was right. Trust me on this one.
True love is magical and you’re going to find it, just don’t go looking in the wrong places.