For the first time in over four years, I’ve been talking to a guy. We’ll call him Bob . And even though it’s only been a couple of months, for a girl that routinely proclaims herself as the founder of the Netflix Celibacy Club, these seems like a feat.
Recently, I flew from my home in North Carolina to visit Bob in New York for the weekend. A romantic city, a budding relationship, a perfectly timed winter storm which turned the weekend into a week – it was the stuff movies are made of. When I finally arrived back home, I was blissfully planning the names of our future three children.
That’s when things went awry.
We had been feverishly talking (a.k.a. texting like true millennials) in the weeks leading up to my trip but all of a sudden, I had nothing to say. Apparently Bob didn’t either. There were a few meager conversations about work, family, and plans for “next time” but it lacked the luster of the distance-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder variety. Texts turned into a series of emoji’s; each less creative than the last. Hours stretched into days. Finally, I realized that my modern romance had officially fizzled.
We had talked for hours, we had amazing sex, we cared about the same things – what went wrong? As I found myself obsessing over the details of our brief foray into romance, I realized that while I admired and enjoyed Bob’s company, it wasn’t losing him as a person that was so upsetting.
My true disappointment was in losing the story – our fantasy narrative – that I had conjured up in my imagination.
In my four years of self-imposed abstinence from relationships for fear of getting too serious or too close to someone who might hurt me, I had effectively closed myself off to any sort of emotion that could transition into a real type of attachment. Once I opened the doors to that possibility, I wasn’t ready for the flood of repressed emotion that spilled out.
As much as I cherish my independence, I also have hopes for a full, more traditional future. Someday, I want a household, a wild brood of children, and a partner by my side for the long haul. As conventional as it sounds, I’d like that house in the middle of the woods where I can continue to work and write but also proxy as a housewife who cooks a mean pot of chicken noodle soup when my loved one feels queasy. Typically, these are things I only think about when I’m feeling sentimental but, deep down, they are goals I strive for.
Let’s be clear – these are not my only ambitions. I have many other aspirations. I’d like to create a community of artists; I’d like to be a published author; I’d like to go on a cross-country motorcycle trip. These dreams of domestic bliss don’t overtake these other more modern goals. They accompany them; equally exciting yet still unfulfilled.
Now that things with Bob have drawn to a close and my initial flood of rose-colored romance has subsided, I’m able to see things a little more clearly. Here are my thoughts:
As much as I loathed admitting it to myself, I had been planning. And in my golden daydreams, I had conveniently plopped Bob in the middle of them. I saw dinner parties where we argued on who would tell “Our Story”. I saw an adorable house, made warm and cozy by my Pinterest-inspired housewife skills. I saw us having arguments followed by really hot sex to make up for them. I planned. And that was my mistake.
Not because it’s wrong to look forward, to have dreams, and to hope that a new flame erupts into the world’s next epic love story. But because it’s wrong to place those expectations on another person and assume they will be executed exactly as seen through your mind’s eye. That’s not fair to the person and certainly not fair to yourself.
I’m still a romantic. I look forward to those peaceful mornings and sultry nights. And when they do, I’m sure the reality will surpass my idle daydreams. But for now I need to be present. For my sake and for the sanity of any future significant other. When you find the “perfect” someone (Spoiler alert: There is never a perfect someone. You’re just two weird, wacky people that learn to love each other through your flaws), his life and mine will not magically envelop each other.
We’ll have to work out our dreams around the other’s life. But we will. We won’t sacrifice ourselves for a fairytale. We’ll find a way to fuse our lives together and achieve our goals. I’ll have to make compromises but I won’t be sacrificing myself and who I’ve worked so hard to become by fitting into an unrealistic fantasy of what I imagined life to be.
And you wanna know the best part? I won’t be daydreaming this life on my own. We’ll be building it together.