Have you ever had that crazy, wild, immediate fall into love that overtakes you? My first online dating app experience turned into my first date in 16 years, which quickly turned into my first post-divorce relationship. She had that flirty, bold, confident assertiveness that makes my knees weak. Did I mention that she was beautiful? I was completely unprepared and felt dizzy for weeks.
I had generally not been the falling fast type when I was younger. I kept the upper hand. Anyone who rushed faster than I was ready for saw the door quickly. That was the me before my 14.5-year relationship, and my 1.5 years pulling myself back together after it ended. Somehow, all those walls I had previously melted away. I wanted to fall; I wanted to FEEL. I wanted to think that it was that easy to find love.
The dating world had changed so much during the time I was settled down and raising kids. I had not experienced cellphone involvement in a relationship before. The ability to call, even when traveling. The flirty texting. I had been out of town between our first and second dates, then again between our third and fourth dates, but there were lots of texts and phone calls. In the hotel with my kids, I would put them to bed, then hide in the bathroom and sit on the floor to talk to her. I felt I knew her. On our second date, I was goofy and couldn’t stop looking at her. My hands were sweaty and my heart was racing. Sitting at a table outside in a restaurant, only half-way through dinner, I reached over, took her face in my hands and kissed her. I didn’t think first, or ask. I just did it, and she responded.
Within weeks, we were in love. We both had kids, but we spent every minute of our no-kid, no-work time together. I thought she had magical abilities to touch me and was willing to do anything to feel her near me.
In my head, I knew this was moving way too fast. I talked to my sister and friends about it. They said things like, “just let yourself feel it,” and “go for it!” If they had cautioned me to slow down, I don’t think I would have.
It was unbelievably romantic and beautiful, and I became the heroine in my own B-movie romance.
Then came the fights.
We were both hot-headed and reactive, and neither of us knew how to slow down the fights any better than we had slowed down the attraction. I felt afraid to disagree with her for fear of her temper. I tried to let things go, but keeping my mouth shut is not in my nature, and eventually I would just burst. I needed to talk things out, but we didn’t. Couldn’t. We would cry and come back together, never resolving the hurt. We dove in so fast without taking the time to build a foundation of trust. She had experienced several losses in a short time not long before we met. So much grief. I tried to be everything she needed, but I just couldn’t get it right. It was too big a burden to put on a new relationship.
Just a couple of months in, we went to visit her late sister’s family. The emotions of the loss were still so raw. It needed to be all about her because of the loss, but the pressure was too much so early on. We knew we had to take some alone time and enjoy each other on this trip, so we took a picnic on a windy, hot day to a secluded, wild beach. She took pictures of me as I body-surfed the big waves. I was high on love. On our way home, we passed a local brewery with a big outdoor party and decided to stop in. In the process of changing out of wet suits in the car, she criticized my body. I was shocked, and the fight was on. We broke up. I can remember standing in the shower at her brother-in-law’s house, sobbing, wondering how we had gotten into this mess, and if there was any way out. I felt incredibly guilty for getting so angry when she was in so much pain, but I still had the right to respect, didn’t I? That night, we made up. She asked me how to fix it, and I said, “come over here on top of me.”
This became a pattern. We were so happy. We broke up. We made up. Repeat. We had some great conversations on how to work together, be a team, and then we’d battle like enemies. I did learn, though. I felt like I developed a bit of a “how to negotiate through a fight” manual about myself. I learned that without an “I’m sorry” I ruminated, but with one, I let go quickly. I also learned that while I would let go and forgive in my head, my body stayed numb and tense. I needed physical affection to move on.
I can’t remember the reason for the fight that lead to our final break-up, only the break-up itself. We pulled up to my house and I got out of her car, but I was still trying to talk things through. Or fight things out. She said she was leaving. I said if she did, we were done. She screeched away.
What would have happened if we’d taken it slowly, gotten to know each other before falling in love? Maybe we never would have. Maybe we would have had a foundation of trust to draw from when we disagreed.
Do those crazy, love-at-first-sight relationships ever last?
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