In my life I am surrounded by a number of couples who have been married for a long time and are still very much in love. This past week, as my uncle neared the end of his life, I was witness to the love between my aunt and him. Although I do not envy her current situation, she spent 30 years completely, totally and utterly in love with her husband as he was with her. And that I envy. You don’t get there after 2 years of marriage, or 10 years, but after a few decades and gallons of stress to make you stronger. You don’t fall in love at first sight, but over the course of many, many years. What I do know is that my aunt and uncle were partners in everything they did and fought to make their marriage as strong as it was. I don’t know if my aunt will ever find love again, but if she does it won’t replace my uncle, but rather it will be another stage in her life.
I am reaching a critical point in my life. My job affords me enough money to possibly buy a new car, yet I am morally opposed to buying something when I can just as easily not buy it and have a lot more money. I drive a 1997 Volvo S90. It is fantastic. It provides every luxury demanded by my cosmopolitan lifestyle. Namely, the air conditioning works and the wheels turn.
I started thinking, though, that in order to date successfully, I should get a car that isn’t the personification of my lifetime of shortcomings. Maybe there’s more to life than a functional air conditioner and an AM/FM radio. I don’t want to be that guy with all the high tech gadgets like tinted windows and power steering. I got so caught up in the comfort of American amenities that I forgot who I was inside. I don’t need a working radio or seatbelts in order to live. I need seatbelts that are approved by some government organization.
Assuming that I decide to buy a new car, I will have to cut back on my already cut back lifestyle. First, I will have to cut my three meals a day to one Snickers bar a day. I will have to stop texting and talking on my phone. My parents will have to go a few years before knowing that I am okay. Also, I will have to go a little while with no health, life, or car insurance. I think it will be alright if I find the love of my life and don’t die in the process.
“I don’t get it. I go on date after date, and no matter who I go out with, I never seem to find anyone I like! Is there something wrong with me? Am I just at an age where I am incapable of falling in love the way I was when I was young?”
Do these thoughts sound familiar to anyone out there?
I remember thinking these thoughts all the time back when I was meeting girls online. It seemed like month after month I was dating girl after girl and just not getting anywhere. Each date felt more depressing than the last. I’d go out, and for the most part, the girls would seem nice, things would even be somewhat entertaining most of the time. But something was just missing. I just wasn’t feeling it. I found myself never having that urge to call a girl for a second or third date. And when I did wind up calling back, it usually felt forced, as if I was trying so hard to be normal (which would usually seem like normal thoughts to have). But after months and months, it starts to not feel so normal anymore.
After a long time not finding someone to match up with, I’d feel like there was something wrong with me. Do we reach an age where we just lose that ability to fall completely in love with someone? You know the type of love I’m talking about. Thinking 24/7 about them, always wanting to talk to them, obsessing over every detail of what happens between the both of you. I sure wasn’t having any of these feelings. It felt like those feelings were just a distant childhood friend of mine whom I had lost the ability to feel with age. Not only that, but I felt like a complete screw-up. Why was everyone else I knew in healthy relationships but I could not seem to meet anyone through online dating?
Why do I bring this up? Because I know there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way right now. People who go on date after date and wonder why they can’t meet someone they could picture themselves being a perfect match for. The truth is, there was nothing wrong with me. I eventually realized it takes time to meet the perfect person. A lot of us think we need help with online dating or that something is wrong with us when we can’t find a date after three months. Think about it. It seems kind of silly to think that you are going to find the person you are meant to be with for the rest of your life after online three months. This could take months, even years. Why settle? Take each date one date at a time and realize there may be nothing wrong at all. These things just take time.
I never told a girl that I loved her (outside of family and celebrities I’d met) until I was in college. Up until then, I was too busy trying to win over members of the opposite sex to revel in the spoils of having won one.
I had to overcome a lot of obstacles to become who I was by age nineteen. I was born both Texan and male. Nothing was handed to me. I had to learn how to tell people that I was Texan and male at a very young age. I couldn’t identify with my parents because my dad wasn’t born in Texas and my mom was not male. It was not until the birth of my younger brother that I had a companion in shame. I still remember what it was like to learn that The Rodeo didn’t exist all over the world. I wanted to visit these places and meet people who hadn’t been corrupted by the horror of watching some helpless dude run away from a bucking bronco. (How is that entertainment?)
So when I got that text message that said “i luv u,” I returned the sentiment in a more grammatically correct way. I had lost my love-ginity, and I felt like I had the right to say “I love you” to whomever I wanted. I started telling every girl that I went out with that I loved her. I told waitresses that I loved them. I told the lady that activated my credit card on the phone that I loved her. I was out of control. I reached rock bottom and found myself telling my dental hygienist that I loved her through an electric spinning toothbrush and foamy toothpaste. She stopped the toothbrush and asked, “What?” I collected myself and realized what I’d said. I think I had thought that I loved her because all I could see were her blue eyes and her arm smelled like antibacterial hand soap and flavored fluoride. I replied, “What? Nothing.”
I didn’t really love her, nor did I love the credit card activator or the waitresses. I loved the freedom to express my love verbally; a freedom which I had abused. You can’t find love by throwing “I love you” wherever you can and hoping one sticks. You find love by training yourself to overcome inherited obstacles until someone finally falls in love with you first.
Yesterday, as I was sitting in my Dermatologist’s waiting area, I witnessed the cutest elderly couple. They had a European accent and my best guess from eavesdropping is that they witnessed the Holocaust. My doctor later informed me that the gentleman who was her patient as well, and a former Dr., was 94 (he was looking pretty good at 94). His wife about the same age (also looking pretty good, mobile, healthy and happy). But what touched me the most was the love that radiated between them. I guess the wife noticed my smile. In her nineties, she was a take charge gal keeping them on their schedule for the day but she was clearly so loving and caring to her husband in making sure he was okay. She must have read my mind as she said ’70 years’. Wow. Now, that is a gift. Having a wonderful loving best friend for 70 years. I can only be so lucky and trust the best is yet to come for me in that department.
Today I am off to the U.S. Open. I love tennis and watching these incredible athletes. It’s exciting to see the ball returned at the speed of lightning and witnessing the mental strategy that comes along with it. Is it a straight return or a strategic plotted move in an effort to win the point, game? As far as I’m concerned, despite all the books out there stating the opposite, games don’t win in the game of love. There are already a superfluous amount of rules, competing interests, personalities and experiences shaping who we are – throw in game playing and there is no winner. Every once in a while there may be some topspin or slicing, but it is consistency in my opinion that wins both at Tennis and love.