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My Dream Guy Became the Best Thing I Never Had

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DREAM DATE
James Carman via Getty Images

Do you know what it feels like to watch the person you love love someone else? Do you know what it feels like to watch the person you love have their heart broken by someone else? I can answer yes to both questions and I'll also say it hurts like hell. When I met Anthony, I was 19 and boyfriend was a dumb 19-year-old like myself. Anthony's relationship was more mature than he was; he was 25 and engaged to his high school girlfriend. Before it goes there, I was too stupid to be a home wrecker. I fell in love the day I met Anthony and so instinctively, I spun out of control the day I met him. I'm not really sure what to label myself as. I was unhappy, I had daddy issues, and I felt trapped. There was something about Anthony that seemed promising, although he hadn't made a commitment to me at all.

I had been with my boyfriend, Mike, since I was 16, and those three years felt like a lifetime back then. I didn't want to be called a cheater, but Anthony was on my mind 24-7, whether I had time to think about him or not. I should have known better. I should have known this was my heart's way of telling me I didn't love my boyfriend anymore, but things didn't move so smoothly. I loved them both, just in different ways.

Anthony told me I was pretty. Over time, pretty turned into beautiful, and I thought I was winning. Then, he called me sexy and that interrupted my flow. I knew I was an attractive girl, but I didn't have a clue what sexy meant. Sexy just seemed like a lot of pressure, but my insecurities faded a bit when Anthony looked at me because the look he had in his eyes assured me that I was the epitome of whatever he thought sexy was. Mike and I broke up; suddenly, he was too young and didn't have the distinguished aspects Anthony had. I was so very naïve, I over-analyzed the flirting until I believed that man was in love with me.

I remember thinking, Maybe he's shy and he wants me to make the first move. Then, I read an article in some women's magazine about men liking ballsy women and I hit the ground running. I was overzealous and my desperation for Anthony's love seeped into every conversation we'd have for the next several months. Looking back, I wasn't in a good place. I was still trying to mask the anxiety I felt after ending things with Mike.

One day Anthony came to work looking drained and defeated. Did I say he was my coworker? Did I say he also supervised me? I was concerned, so I asked what was wrong and he told me that his fiancée broke up with him. In an instant, his pain was mine and my heart broke for him. I hated that he was missing out on the relationship he thought he couldn't live without; this brought us onto a level playing field. We were equally damaged, until the other shoe dropped and Anthony said his fiancée left because he cheated on her.

I felt betrayed by Anthony. He had a fiancée when I met him and I knew my chances were slim. Although I made my feelings for him very clear, I didn't expect much in return. I never had anything against Anthony's fiancée, but I felt that the girl he cheated with was the worst. He didn't keep her around, it was a one-night stand, and that lessened the blow. But I still had trouble finding peace. I drank and cried myself to sleep every night before forgiving Anthony a week later. I had always thought we had an understanding that if things didn't work out with his fiancée, we'd be together. Today, I know that is a conversation I had with my delusions, not Anthony.

Over the next two years, I watched Anthony date around, have flings. A serious girlfriend was in the mix for a little while, too. I had been consistently dating a few guys at a time since Mike and I broke up, but knowing about all of Anthony's girls was torture. After all, I was keeping my dates to myself. I drank, cried and plotted on my and Anthony's "relationship" for several months. One day, I sobered up and I stopped trying. My feelings for Anthony didn't change, but I began to interpret them differently.

I used to think that being in love meant you'd do everything possible to claim another person as your own and that seeing them with other people was supposed to make you a walking disaster. As time progressed, I learned that love isn't selfish at all. When you're in love, you are supposed to encourage the person you're in love with to do things that make them happy. I had to stop hating all the girls Anthony brought around and I had to accept him for his truth. He was a man living his life, playing the field, and enjoying himself. I had to do the same.

Our relationship was special because when he needed someone to vent to or give him advice, he came to me. He knew he could trust me. No matter how badly he broke my heart (and he knows he broke my heart), he was sure that my loyalty to him never flaked. Everything I was, I was it when he needed me to be it. Whether he needed my strength, support or a smile and stupid jokes, I was ready to deliver and that made me proud.

Anthony and I stopped working together two years ago and eventually loss touch, but I will never forget him. I am thankful for all the things he taught me about love and even the way I see myself as a woman. He has definitely been in my prayers over the years.

"If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it was meant to be." I used to hate that phrase, but now I just dislike it. I dislike it because those words remind me that I am not always in control and that the real truth and not the truth I want to see is scary as hell sometimes. During those times, you have to put on a brave face and accept what's coming; even when you don't want to. Three years ago, the idea of giving up on Anthony so that we could be happy with other people would have killed me. But today, I'm content knowing we may never see each other again. It's just not meant to be.