She sent me a message a while back to let me know. She didn't want me to find out about it through a mutual friend or on Facebook. We have not had much contact in the past few years, but she continues to be kind and thoughtful whenever a life event from either of us prompts a message.
Even seven-ish years down the road, the message raised a swell of sadness that had been building. It wasn't from any hope of us ever getting back together. Other than knowing she remains a caring person, I do not know much about her these days. No, the sad feeling was more a reminder of what is missing in my life, what has been gone for some time now.
I have not been in a relationship for a couple of years now. Recently I had this thing going on with someone I knew. Our friendship veered into some new territory. She did not want a relationship, and truth be told, I don't know that we would have made a very good couple, but there was some sort of spark that pushed its way through. It was ill-defined - casual but not superficial. I have never seen anyone casually before, nor have I ever had a friends-with-benefits sort of arrangement, but it was new and exciting.
Two days before my ex sent me the note about her engagement, I found out that the friend I was spending time with was now in a relationship. It was sort of a one-two punch, rejection present and past reminding me of how alone I felt, and it made me think again how that may never change.
Before you raise any arguments - yes, I know I am not actually alone. I have a wonderful family and more dear friends than would be expected of this awkward introvert. And I am thankful.
But it is not the same.
I want the belonging in one on one. I want to have one person I am hoping for when a text comes through. Someone to share moments, exciting and seemingly dull. Someone who I will make mistakes with, but who believes that although my heart is often awkward, it is always in the right place. I want a deeper connection that physical and emotional intimacy brings. And yes I want love.
But I don't know that I will ever find it again. For several years now, I have begun to acknowledge (if not accept) that I will not find love again. There is no guarantee that I would - no man behind the curtain pulling the strings or some guiding hand of fate.
I was listening to a podcast recently with an interview with Aimée Lutkin about her article (links below) where she had told her friends as much. There were the immediate objections that "but you're so pretty/funny/smart." "You'll find love when you stop looking/least expect it." "You're not trying hard enough." Her responses:
- Pretty/funny/smart guarantee nothing, if maybe expanding your pool of applicants.
- I have stopped looking for years. how much more can I not look?
- Let me show you all the apps and all the advice I have already tried.
Believing this casual thing might work was probably born out of all this. There were no relationships on the horizon, and I needed to embrace any connection that made me feel more human. The resulting feelings of loss prove to me that I really miss those connections, and that something casual is not enough, a stop gap at best.
The woman on the podcast still hopes that she finds love, but that she is done wishing and waiting. It is a conscious choice to stop the feeling that her life is in a temporary state (without a partner) and that things won't truly get moving forward until this period ends. And if there is some magic spell that can be cast to make someone come to you when you least expect it, well her article may be just that.
I am not so strong to say that my life would be complete even if I never found love again, but a growing part of me wants to live my life as if it would be. To focus on what is important to my happiness and enrich connections to the people who are in my life. To find passion outside of romance. But I have not yet given up hope. I still look, if clumsily.
There is something in my life that has been taking up much of my time the past few months, which may make it easier or harder to meet someone, or it may indicate I am not ready yet.