The thing about online dating is people go there looking for a something. I know I did. I was tired of dating someone who wasn’t marriage material, and wasting my time, and most of my twenties, dating men (and boys) who would never be the right monogrammed Mr. to my Mrs. towel.
So, I went to e-Harmony, to find that something. If you’d asked me at the time, I would have vehemently denied that I went there searching for a husband. But in retrospect, I did. I didn’t want to go to match.com, because I wasn’t interested in casually dating, and it seemed like e-Harmony was where the other people who were looking for the relationship to end all relationships were hanging out, out in the ether.
“I’d like to be in a serious relationship” I typed into Google. It was easy. You can order anything you want on the internet, even a boyfriend. And so, when our first date came around, I was ready to settle down, and the man across the table from me was handsome, successful, smiled easily, picked good restaurants, was engaging, and smart. I’m not sure I gave it much more thought than that, because all of a sudden, there I was. In a relationship. Telling my friends and family that this was “the one” and I sincerely hoped I had gone on my very last first date in my life. I discussed wedding dresses with my sister, and guest lists with my best friend.
But a funny thing happened. That man? That handsome, successful man? Is a someone and not a something. He is a complex human, and in my rush to make him fit a mold, I forced things to get serious very quickly. We were two people in love, and sometimes love makes us do stupid things.
Now, nearly a year later, the passion has fizzled and we’re as comfortable as two old socks that don’t match. You can still wear the socks, but you know, deep down, that the socks don’t match and at some point you’ll have to get rid of them. To let them find their partner. You know, the actual one, who doesn’t roll her eyes when he talks about something he finds interesting.
We moved in before we were ready. Or rather, before I was ready. And the moving in has made me feel smothered. I have to correct myself when I start to say “my house” or “my bedroom” because it’s not mine anymore, and I feel trapped because I can’t afford to buy groceries and pay rent without his help. It makes me resentful. It makes me mad at myself, mad at the situation, mad at him. He deserves the anger least of all. Because he’s trying. He’s loving me the very best way he can, and I’m loving him the best I can, and it’s not enough.
There’s a void. With each disagreement, we’ve grown farther apart. I didn’t realize it at the time, but each major disagreement changed the shape of our relationship. He thinks we can get back to where we were when we fell in love. But we can’t. We aren’t the same people we were last year. There’s no way to go back. You can’t go home again.
What we could do is take a step back and evaluate if the August 2011 versions of ourselves are compatible. I have looked back and I don’t think that we are. We are two people who have grown comfortable with each other, who know each other extremely well, and who love each other the very best that we can. But neither one of us is talking about saving the date. Neither one of us feels as sure as we once did. I think that both of us would be happier in another relationship.
It’s no one’s fault. It’s not the verbal sparring when we’re fueled on wine or hormones. It’s not one thing. It’s just general incompatibility, and I think we’re holding each other back.
This is the hardest realization: that no matter how hard you try, no matter how much love, time, and attention you give to something, be it a flower, a goldfish, or yes, even a romantic relationship, it can still die. I think it especially stings when you take into consideration that we are both over-achievers who have marked our lives with our successes. We don’t take failure easily, especially when it’s personal.
To end things will be painful, on both sides. Our lives are intertwined, and we’re part of each other’s routines.
I know this for sure: knowing this man has altered me forever, in a positive way. He taught me to open my heart for love, and for that, I’ll be eternally grateful.