“I loved real, real hard once // But the love wasn’t returned // … I tried, I tried, and I tried to keep him in my life // I cried, and I cried, and I cried, but I couldn’t make it right…” – When It Hurts So Bad, (Queen) Lauryn Hill
You shoot your shot and hope that you’ll be able to land one eventually. This is dating… in your 30’s. The stakes are higher and you want in on what social media deems “relationship goals”; a long-term monogamous relationship or marriage, and babies with the (wo)man that gets you. Understands you. Adores you. Cherishes you. Wants you. It’s a crap shoot and D R A I N I N G (AF), but I’m here for it – relentlessly and sometimes begrudgingly. Despite being crushed by the last man that I gave my heart to, I still believe in love and will stop at nothing until I find it.
March 26th – an uneventful Sunday afternoon monopolized by marathon viewing of Law & Order: SVU. I’d been on Match.com for about a month or so at this point and relegated the majority of my activity to the site to weekends. Benson (a lead character on the show) flashed across my TV screen as my phone vibrated. To my pleasant surprise the match.com “M” icon appeared in the upper left hand corner of my screen, indicating that I had a message.
When opening match.com messages remove all expectations because you never know what you’ll see – a short fat dude 20 years older than the age cap you specified in your preferences, a serial killer doppelganger from Unsolved Mysteries, a cock-diesel dude that missed all his leg days, or a suave stylish dude with a killer smile. Luckily for me, THAT “M” indicated a message from the latter.
His name was *Todd and his profile picture intrigued the fuck outta me. I’m a sucker for nice teeth and kind eyes, he had both. We exchanged messages for the better part of twenty minutes until he finally requested my phone number. I gladly obliged and we engaged in a four hour+ introductory convo that was filled with laughter and familiarity. Needless to say, there was chemistry over the phone, but would we have chemistry in person? The skeptic in me wasn’t sure. The optimist in me was certain. The realist in me decided to wait and see. We agreed on a date and met four days later for a prosecco happy hour at a bar on 2nd Avenue in downtown NYC.
To my own surprise (I’m THAT late friend) I arrived about 10 minutes earlier than our agreed meeting time. I took a seat at a bar table facing the door so that (1) I could be seen and (2) see him easily upon entry.
My nerves… BITCH, the nerves; I swallowed a 1,000 butterflies and they were all fluttering in my stomach. I really liked him and I was super nervous about our initial meeting. To calm my happy ass down, I sauntered over to the bar and ordered a glass of prosecco. Moments later my wine arrived and so did he – except he didn’t enter. I saw his cinnamon-colored bald head throught he bar’s blinds and smiled. “So he IS tall… nice”, I thought to myself. You see , one of the cardinal rules of match.com is as follows ladies. When a dude tells you his height and it’s UNDER 6’0, subtract 2” immediately, because his vertically challenged ass is lying. Ok, now where was I – yes, Todd’s arrival.
I started to get off my stool and walk outside to greet him then I paused, because thirst. Instead, I hopped back up on my seat and took that tall (6’2” to be exact) drink of water in. I watched him stand there for the better part of two minutes before making my move – I sent him a simple text. “So are you going to just stand outside and look sexy or are you going to come inside to meet me?” – SEND. It was perfect, humor mixed with boldness is usually well received by men. I placed my phone back on the bar table and took a sip of my drink awaiting a reaction from him. Seconds later, I saw him turn his face towards the window with a big smile plastered on his face. I smiled and gave myself one last glimpse in the large mirror to the left of me to make sure my makeup was good. He entered, clad in all black with the exception of a dark hunter green leather jacket. I stood up and allowed my elevator eyes to devour him. I smiled, he smiled – then we embraced. I later learned that his hug was strategic. You see, this man had been through enough catfishing incidents in his online dating days that he devised subtle ways to weed out “the real” from “the fake”. His warm hug was a guise to see if I was wearing any body contouring undergarments (i.e. Spanx) beneath my blouse. Slick ass nigga.
The formal pleasantries were exchanged and our respective relief was shared. It was apparent that our phone chemistry had transcended and was felt in person. The skeptic in me was silenced, the optimist in me was excited, and the realist in me knew that I was going to see him again and most likely fuck him.
I won’t bore with details from our first date, but I will say that it was refreshing and good until my narcoleptic ass started to get sleepy as we enjoyed Vietnamese in Soho. We agreed to call it a night and walked a few blocks over so I could hail a taxi. Being the gentleman that he opened the door, we embraced once more, and then I bid him adieu. “YES BITCH! He’s a keeper”, I thought to myself as I smiled with satisfaction. Two days later I actually LEFT Brooklyn (on a Saturday) to meet him downtown again (this was our neutral space as he lived in the UES). Brooklynites understand how real this is. There is ZERO reason to leave BK on the weekends because everything that matters is in our borough. Needless to say I really liked him and was willing to meet him half-way to enjoy his company again.
A few short weeks of love jonesin’ and twice-a-week dates (usually on Thursdays and Saturdays) led to a monogamous relationship – match.com worked! Months later it showed up effortlessly and unapologetically. I barely recognized it because it’d been years since we’d been acquainted with each other. I squinted my eyes and allowed the blur to dissipate – slowly it came into focus. I fought the urge to run and instead accepted and embraced it. I decided to shared it with him the only way that I knew how – unabashedly and passionately. “It” was love and it felt amazing.
As I type this I am overwhelmed by nostalgia, feelings of euphoria, and giddiness. I was legit involved in a whirlwind romance. The type of love story that every woman impetulously shares with her girlfriends over Sunday brunch; sipping on unlimited bellinis, munching on perfectly prepared eggs Benedict and smiling like a deranged clown while adorned with a glow that only new love can bestow upon you.
FALLING in love with him was easy. His consistency, spontaneity, intelligence, sense of humor, drive, ambition, sensuality, style, and good looks wooed me. Sure, he came with baggage, but who doesn’t? Besides, it wasn’t the typical “heavy” baby-mama-drama-baggage (hell, he had no kids. Bitch I found another unicorn!). STAYING in love with him was a different story…
A few months ago I found myself chiming in on an a “call to action” Instagram post on @ForHarriet’s page. The post read “What’s the worst relationship mistake you’ve ever made?” My response came effortlessly,
“Falling in love with a damaged man that pretended to be healed. FUCKING Deceptacon! Megatron had NOTHING on him”.
Hindsight is 20/20. When I think back to certain red flags – like him abruptly breaking up with me via phone on Mother’s Day weekend because I’d had a huge panic attack because of work. His estranged relationship with his father and mother (especially his mother). Him being twice divorced to the same woman and never really letting his guard down for new love to enter. These were major warning signs, but I didn’t heed them. I did that thing that us women do, I was going to prove to him that I was different and love him despite his imperfections. I unknowingly fell in love with a man more emotionally damaged than one of those sad ass dogs that you see in those ASPCA commercials as Sara McLachlan sings “In the Arms of an Angel” in the background. I don’t know what’s worse – falling in love with an emotionally damaged man or realizing that he was also emotionally detached and had no desire to change who he was.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. There were more good times than bad. Dating a highly intelligent, spontaneous, and cultured man meant fun and adventure. I’ve had some of the best dates of my life with him. Surprise trips to Montaulk (the end) for surfing lessons (because I passively mentioned that I wanted to learn how to surf), nostalgic trips to Rye, NY to ride on theme park rides (because I nonchalantly mentioned that I wanted to have classic fun), and evenings out at UES/Soho eateries were the norm because we both appreciated fine cuisine.
The sensuality that this man had was unsurpassed. The attentiveness to my body while lovemaking was incredible. Ecstasy was a familar destination when I entered his bedroom. I’ve had good lovers in my day, but he was different. The love that I shared for him turned our copulation into astral travel. Yeah, it was like that… Sex so good that your coochie threatened to disown you if you deprived her of that grade of D.
Sex is one thing, but intuition is another. I recall lying in my bed one night feeling “off”. Something wasn’t right in the buttermilk. I couldn’t place my finger on it, but I knew that things had changed and it didn’t sit well with my spirit.
It didn’t add up. We’d gotten back together after a two week break up (back in May) and were tighter than ever. I had my man back and our bond felt unbreakable… until it broke. The shift in our dynamic was palpable and uncomfortable. The runner in me started to lace up my track shoes and leave, but the sensible side (with the advisement of my even more sensible day one, my sister) decided to wait things out and see if I could love him despite this weird time.
When he was difficult – judgmental, impatient, and guarded, I was easy – accepting, tolerant, and exposed. I challenged myself for two full weeks until the relationship no longer sat well with me.
“Why are you so invested in this?”
That’s what he asked me after five months of dating. I didn’t understand. He’d just confessed his love for me months pior in my bedroom on that warm Brooklyn summer night and asked me to consider having his child weeks after. Why I was “so invested in this” didn’t matter. What mattered was that fact the man that I was in a committed relationship with fixed his nigga lips to ask me this startling question in the first place.
I sat Indian style on my heather gray shag rug with my back to the foot of my platform bed and stared vacantly at my sheer gray curtains as they danced to the wind’s song. They moved carelessly and entranced me in the process – the perfect distraction. My mouth hung in utter fucking shock, but I snapped out of it and responded the only way that I knew how, with a question. “The better question is why aren’t you?” I asked the question as my heart broke into a million irreperable pieces and didn’t care about his response. It didn’t matter then and it doesn’t matter now.
September 1st – I walked home from my fasted HIIT Cardio day at the gym and decided that it was time. Trying to maintain a relationship with a person that no longer gave you reciprocity was exhausting and downright heartbreaking. I summoned whatever strength that I had left after burning about 50-11 calories, fought through the incessant tears falling from my face and I broke up with him. Not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. He took it in stride and told me that he “wanted it to work”. Unfortunately, he wasn’t “willing to” – which is what our relationship needed. I bid him adieu one last time, told him that I loved him, and hung up – crushed.
The thing about breakups is they have a way of making you wonder what went wrong and how you could’ve prevented the demise of something that you once felt so sure about. YOU second guess everything – even when you’re the one that made the conscious decision to end the relationship.
Although I’m crushed I relish in the fact that I took a chance on love after so many years and enjoyed two seasons of bliss, romance, love, euphoria, mind-blowing sex, and exclusivity. By some people’s standards my last online dating experiment was a failure, but to me it was a HUGE success. I saw firsthand how I hard it was to date someone that wasn’t 100% ready to be vulnerable. In essence, I saw myself. I put on a front that I believed deceived anyone that attempted to get close to me, but I was countlessly called out for being guarded. Dating Todd showed me just how hard it was to infiltrate a guarded heart and gain access. I can’t do this again…. It isn’t fair to anyone worth getting to know and more importantly it isn’t fair to me.
So, after lessons learned and months of healing I’ve decided to take another chance and find the man that will make me believe in love… again.
*This deceptacon’s name has been changed to protect his true identity, although we all know his name is Megatron – from planet Cybertron.