After I got dumped by my first husband, Eric, for another woman after 15 years of marriage, the loneliness nearly crushed me. I pictured my ex and the other woman cooking together or cuddling while watching TV, and those thoughts bothered me more than any intimate act they could have engaged in.
They were together. I was alone.
I believed no other man would ever want me, but I also felt an urgency to find someone to replace him. The day my husband left me, I looked in the mirror and saw a meek little doormat mixed with an ugly old woman. If my own husband thought another woman was better than me, I must be a hideous monster rather than the pretty hazel-eyed girl that stood before me.
Being with somebody — anybody — would be better than being single and lonely.
After buying the entire range of Sex and the City DVDs, I watched episodes every night, which made me more depressed but also more determined to find a new man. I watched the ladies on the screen tell me over and over that the only way to "get over someone" was to "get under someone," and I began to believe it.
Of course, the thought of finding a new man intrigued me, if only to try to make Eric jealous. The truth was that I didn’t even want to reconcile with Eric and his cheating and controlling ways, but I still wanted him to know other men found me attractive.
I factored in my aching loneliness, and the result was me sitting at my computer signing on to Match well before I had any business being there.
My friends warned me that online dating could be dangerous and that I was jumping back in the water too soon, but I just joked and told them it was like "man shopping," hoping my desperation wouldn’t give me away.
As I saw it, there was another problem. How could I start seeing somebody when I was so rusty at intimacy? I almost felt like a virgin again after being with the same man since high school. Eric had insinuated that I was neither willing nor good at it.
An idea formed in my mind (probably after too much Sex And The City) that I needed to "break the ice" as soon as possible with somebody I trusted.
Unfortunately, I picked one of my best guy friends, Theo, and showed up at his house late one night without telling him. He was single and receptive to the idea just like me, but the act itself was almost stressful. We’d been such good friends, and it was my fault that an invisible wall went up between us afterward.
I left Theo’s house the next morning feeling ashamed of myself. I couldn’t even look him in the eye as I said goodbye. My mission was technically accomplished, but Theo was left with his feelings hurt after being used. Our friendship was never supposed to be that way, and I should never have lit the match that burned it.
Shortly after that experience, a friend of mine from high school set me up with her brother.
Brian had liked me when we were kids, but I wasn’t sure what he would think of me as an adult. When we met at a bowling alley, he was cute and friendly and I had a good time.
We didn’t see or talk to each other for about three weeks after that, until one night on the phone when I was alone and texted him suggestive messages. I showed up at his house an hour later, and the next thing I knew we were in his bed. There was no conversation or romance, just jerky uncomfortable lovemaking that I endured while it lasted. When it was over, I said I had to leave and never called him again.
Despite having dated two men briefly in my life, I was as lonely as ever. I accepted a few dates from Match. The first guy wanted me to marry him after only going out twice (huge red flag). The second guy failed my made-up screening question for all my dates.
"Would you ever spank a child?"
"Well … only if they were doing something bad."
It was on one of those dating sites that I met Micah, who would become my second husband. We were married six months later after I got pregnant, and I spent the next eight years trying to escape him.
It was an isolating union that cost me my family and friends, who couldn’t stand to watch me stay with a dangerous man prone to violence and drug addiction.
I made my own mistakes in the marriage, to be sure, but the gaslighting I endured all those years had me so lost that I forgot who I was and did things I’d never do. I finally broke free of him after his death a few years ago, but up until the day he died, he never left me alone.
After Micah was out of my life, I made a firm decision: No more dating or relationships.
I couldn’t keep acting out of loneliness, even if it stemmed from the fear of being alone with myself. I swore I’d stop chasing after men. No more casual sex, either. I vowed the next time would be with somebody I really loved and only after I’d done some serious work on myself. Not having a partner gave me plenty of time for introspection, and I realized that falling in love and looking for company were two very different things.
I swore I’d stop being afraid to be alone, and I learned to get comfortable with myself in the process. Everything I thought about romantic relationships had been wrong, especially the idea that my world should always revolve around a man. Pretty soon, I relished my alone time and the peace inside my head when I wasn’t obsessing over one guy or another. I decided that whether or not love found me again, I would be okay.
Life was like that for a while until a guy named Matt showed up at a gathering at a mutual friend’s house. I’d heard of him from my old neighborhood, but we never officially met in person. When he walked into the room, it felt like everything else was dark and he was under a brilliant spotlight.
Over the course of the day, we exchanged jokes and discussed people we both knew from school. As I left my friend’s house, he asked me to send him a friend request on Facebook. I wondered if he was as enchanted as me, even if I was too afraid to admit it.
At first, I was back to my old tactics, friending him on Facebook and sending suggestive messages to his Messenger. When he flirted back with me, I pegged him as probably some guy who has a different woman every week. The thought of it made me irrationally jealous, so I invited him over to my place for dinner.
We both knew dinner was merely a euphemism, but he agreed and showed up the next night. My body shook all over with anxiety as I answered the door. Of course, I’d been in plenty of relationships before, but there was something special about this man.
It was as if God put the perfect face, body, personality, and soul together, especially for me.
Yet, my guard was up throughout dinner. I assumed Matt was like all the other guys, seeing what he could get from me before moving on, and I was determined not to trust him. We sat on my couch and he kissed me out of nowhere, the most beautiful kiss I’d ever gotten.
As with all the men I dated, I felt that I owed him something so he wouldn’t think I was a tease. I led him to my bedroom where we kissed passionately, but when I reached up to unbutton his jeans, he stopped me.
"Wait, we don’t have to do that right away," he whispered. "Let’s save it for another time."
My heart melted on the spot, especially because he said "another time," as if he was planning to see me again. Matt brought out something in me that I thought was long buried. I let down my guard and loved him with my whole heart, even at the risk of getting it broken. Matt wasn’t some random guy trying to run a scam. Every time we were together showed me that he truly loved me, and I trusted him more every day and never regretted it for a second.
I have a different philosophy about romantic relationships now. I learned I can’t rush or force love and connection, especially not through sex. Love needs to flow naturally, and it came to me only after I started working on myself and wasn’t desperately looking for a man.
While I love Matt with all my heart, I now know I could survive on my own, if needed. He has been the greatest gift of my life that I wasn’t even asking for.
Matt and I will have been married for six years in December. I couldn’t love another person more with the exception of our children. He lets me be exactly who I am, supports my dreams, and teaches me how to do things rather than doing them all for me. I can’t imagine having this kind of love with anyone ever again, but I realize now that even if Matt was someday gone, I would still have myself.
Source: Your Tango