I once read somewhere that studies have shown we fall in love with three people in our lifetime, each for a very specific reason.
Our first love often happens at a young age, and you eventually grow apart or call it quits over silly things.
When you get older you may look back at this person and think what you had with them wasn’t really love. But the truth is it was. It was love for what you knew love to be at the time.
There are different depths of love.
The second love is the hard one. You get hurt in this one. It teaches us lessons and pain that makes us stronger. This love involves heartbreak, lies, abuse, drama and damage.
But this is the one where the growth happens. We realize what we love about love and what we don’t. The difference between red flags and green ones.
We learn the difference between good humans and bad ones. People that are for us and people that are for themselves. This love and this heartbreak turns us inward.
We become closed off, careful, cautionary and considerate. We learn exactly what we want and don’t want.
The third love comes blindly. With no warning it creeps up on you when you least expect it.
You don’t go looking for this love, it comes to you.
You can put up any wall you want but somehow this person breaks it down. You’ll find yourself caring about that person without trying.
They may look nothing like your previous ‘types’. But you get completely and utterly lost when you look in their eyes. You see the beauty in the most simple, ordinary and imperfect parts of them.
You do not feel pressured to hide certain parts of yourself.
You can envision marriage and family and building a life with them. You thank the universe for them.
For the first time, you learn true love.
I thought this was interesting and eerily accurate as far as my dating/relationship/situationship history went.
I concluded that I’d been in love thrice. To preserve anonymity and my own dignity, I will name no names.
Anyway, the first was when I was going into my senior year of highschool. I met J1 on a mission trip in Jamaica. He was family friends with my godmother who was bringing her confirmation class on this trip, and by some odd stroke of luck I got to tag along.
When I met this boy, we clicked almost instantly. I’d never felt anything like it before. I had never been on a date or in a relationship. This was completely new territory.
Maybe it was because we were in this foreign exotic place with no cellular access to the outside world. Maybe it was because I was in a vulnerable place at home. My parents were about to send me to inpatient treatment for an eating disorder. The secret that I’d developed an obscene relationship with food and my body beginning sometime around my sophomore year, was finally out. I’d become a downward spiraling depressed, skin and bones version of myself.
It was obvious and still I was in denial.
Or maybe it was the universe sending me this boy to teach me about love, so that I’d finally believe there was more to life. And that I was loveable.
That was something I stopped believing around 5th grade, my therapist would blame it on some flavor of daddy issues combined with lower than low self esteem. Yes, in true basic white girl form, I have daddy issues.
The complicating factor here was that J1 had a girlfriend back home. I was aware of this. And so we remained in a “just friends” zone, but close friends on and after this week-long trip. To have someone understand your mind and enjoy you for who you are at your core is a different kind of intimacy.
Since we were from different cities, we kept in touch by texting, with daily phone calls and Skype sessions. I fell hard and fast. He told me he was too.
I can pinpoint the exact moment that I felt love in my heart for this boy. We were on the phone one night, before either one of us had explicitly laid out our feelings towards each other. I was telling him about my weekend plans and mentioned that one of my guy friends was having people over. Although this guy friend and I had no history together, J1 was protective, and maybe even a little bit jealous.
J1’s curiosity became a little defensive and I asked “Yeah I might be going over to Nick Fischer’s (no, we were not related) house this weekend but what’s the big deal, who cares!?”
He was still with his girlfriend at the time, but there was not an ounce of hesitation in his reply, “I DO!”
He cared. He truly cared about me. And that feeling of feeling cared for by someone I cared for was new territory. I chalked it up to love, and for the first time said I love you, but there was no fairy tale ending. We ultimately grew apart and he ultimately chose to stay with his girlfriend.
My second love was, in fact, the hard one. I didn’t date again after J1 until after college. I downloaded the apps, dated around a little bit, and after a year or so I met J2.
I first laid eyes at him at the gym, where I typically noticed the guys I would later match with on the apps and strike up a conversation with.
Dating culture in the 21st century effectively abolished the acceptability of any sort of in person “hey, hi, I see you here often, I’m X” approach. You had to match first, and then you could acknowledge that you’ve been going to the same gym as this person for quite some time safely, behind the protection of your cellphone screen.
My friends got a kick out of my see, swipe, match routine, but hey, it worked.
Anyway, I’d noticed J2 a handful of times. He was older, in verrry good shape, had tattoos, a tall dark and handsome type with a stoic and serious face. I was intrigued by him. I wanted to know more.
To my knowledge we’d never actually made eye contact. But later I learned that he’d taken notice to me too. He thought it was cute that I braided my hair while I was on the stair-stepper.
I just thought it was efficient, killing two birds with one stone. Almost like paying one fee for access to a gym as well as a cohort of local, single men.
Anyway, after a few dates he told me that he’d recently been divorced from a woman who he’d spent the past six years of his life with. She had a kid, they had a house, the white picket fence, two dogs, the whole nine yards together.
I, on the other hand, had never even been in a real adult relationship before. I was as far as you can possibly get from yard nine. Still, he was willing to take a gamble on me, we grew closer, went on a sponaneous trip to Puerto Rico together only two months in, and the rest was history.
But that was when it slowly started to get hard. We fought regularly, our relationship was tumultuous and despite the fact that we loved each other more than I’d even knew was possible, the undercurrents of toxicity and abuse became too much for either one of us to handle.
When we finally called it quits for good, we both walked away with heavy, broken hearts. There was no possibility of ending on good terms. That fact was particularly heart wrenching for me to bear.
It was difficult to make peace with the way things ended and recover the parts I’d lost of myself because of the up and down nature of our relationship. I don’t know that I will ever fully recover everything I went into it with, but that’s life. I learned more about love, relationships, and myself because of my time with J2. For those reasons, he will always be special to me and I am grateful, not spiteful.
When I was just about ready to take a hiatus from men and dating for awhile, guy whose name didn’t start with a J came along.
Before you ask, yes, he did in fact go to the gym too.
In hindsight I do remember noticing him for the first time. We made eye contact when I was on my way out the door once. But I thought nothing of it until after the fact..
FATE, is that YOU?
I say I’ve fell in love thrice because guy whose name didn’t start with J only half counts. This was more like one of those almost relationships. We never defined it and it was short lived due to bad timing, or at least that’s what he told me.
Dating guy whose name didn’t start with J was a huge breath of fresh air.
It was something that looked like the type of love I only imagined to exist in the movies. One where he shows up at your work place to surprise you. Shows up out of the blue, just to say hi, because he knows it just might make your shift a little brighter.
A type where he says sweet things like, “I don’t care if you smell like smoked meats and seafood because you’re coming from work, I miss you. I just want to see you.”
A type where instead of running for the hills when you accidentally let your freak flag fly..and mention the alleged ghosts living among you in your apartment…he arrives at your door, with Amazon’s best sage candle.
Everything just felt good. It felt easy. He left very few, if any, of my boxes unchecked.
Being with guy whose name didn’t start with J was the closest I’d ever come to an honest, uninhibited, healthy romantic experience. I was feeling joy again and like I could be my true, authentic, weird and embarrassing self without being judged. I felt accepted. I felt safe. And well, stupid giddy.
Unfortunately, he was my almost lover. We were both half in and half out, because he was not over his ex and honestly, I wasn’t over mine either.
They say timing is everything, and perhaps it is. So until the universe sends me timing, I guess I’m just an outlying data point and a girl whose been in love thrice.
Nice to meet ya.