06/07/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Unrequited Love: It's a Bitch, But So Am I, So Why Did It Catch Me So Off Guard?

Four years ago, I met a man named Sam. He was incredibly handsome, intelligent and a real pain in the ass. We never seemed to agree on anything, except what we both liked in bed. However, any flaw that I would find with him would be immediately overshadowed by his charm. Think of the most charismatic person that you multiply that by 1,000 and you have Sam. He is capable of charming the pants off of even the toughest critic. Literally.

From the moment I met Sam, I knew that I loved him. He sat down at the table for lunch, shook my hand and flashed this devilish crooked grin while he introduced himself. If I recall correctly, the only word I was able to get out of my mouth was, "Hi!" In that moment, I legitimately had forgotten my name. I knew this was the beginning of the end for me.

Lunch progressed as usual and I was trying my hardest to stay professional, yet send out a slightly flirtatious vibe. Honestly, if I were a betting woman, I would have bet my coveted Louboutins that he was returning my sentiments, so I moved forward full speed ahead. After lunch there were a few professionally flirtatious emails exchanged (yes, there is a such thing), and I told him that if he needed to get in touch with me, he could call my cell phone. Smooth, right? I know. It's what I do.

An entire year goes by where we chatted on and off, planned to meet up and then plans would fall through because something would always come up last minute for him. It wasn't until he left the industry to work elsewhere that things really picked up between us. We began hanging out pretty regularly. It all started harmlessly enough--a dinner here, a lunch there or an occasional cocktail throughout the week. He would say things to me that made me feel so special, like I was the only one he felt that way about. He would say it with such conviction and warmth, and he would look me straight in the eyes and I would feel like he was looking straight into my soul. Eventually we took things to the next level (Yes, that's right. This entire time, there wasn't even a kiss), and after 2 years of build up, I finally found myself in bed with him. To say that the experience was nothing short of Heavenly is an understatement. The man has all of the right equipment and certainly knows how to use it. If there was any doubt in my mind of how I felt about him, it was erased the minute his lips touched mine.

This pattern of casual sex, mixed with soul searching and gut wrenching conversations about life and who we were as people, continued for almost 2 years. And I happily let it. I would casually bring up taking things to the next level, and he would deflect the conversations like the pro that he was. He was happy just being intimate on a physical level and staying at arms length emotionally, while I was falling hook, line and sinker into his abyss.

Looking back on things, I should have seen the signs. We never went on an actual date, he never met my any of my friends, and I'm pretty sure that all of my guy friends said that there had to be another woman (or even women--plural) in his life. If I had stepped out of my body for a second and looked at his actions, instead of the words he was telling me, I would have realized this on my own, but it was far easier for me to rationalize that he was just "damaged" or needed to learn how to open up to people and the possibility of falling in love.

Last week over drinks, he told me that he was getting back together with his ex-girlfriend. It was as if a light bulb finally went off in my head and I realized that maybe, just maybe, he's not in love with me like I am with him. Humph. It's as simple as that. I'm also clearly a very slow learner. I once asked my mother how many times I had to touch the stove before realizing that it would burn me. Her answer? Too many times to count. The same apparently holds true in my dating life.

If you believe that certain people are put into your life for a reason like I do, then what was the reason for Sam being in mine? Was it a karmic lesson that I had to learn? Was it to make me bitter at the ripe age of 28? Of course not (although, it certainly didn't help with the bitter part). Once the initial sting of rejection wore off, I realized that what my time with Sam had taught me was that no matter how much you love someone, you can't ever make them love you back, and that sometimes, even though accepting the truth in a situation like this is heartbreaking, it's important to realize what you have gained from it. He came into my life shortly after I moved to Chicago, didn't know anyone, and had just gone through a miserable breakup with a man who was cold, emotionally devoid of any feeling and never made me feel smart, sexy or funny. I can say, without a doubt, that there was never a moment spent with Sam that I didn't feel like the best version of myself. As women (or humans), we have a tendency to become comfortable in relationships and lose the person we once were before settling into monogamy, and it's always nice to meet someone along the way, who reminds you of that person you used to be. I also realized that settling for a friendship with Sam wasn't necessarily settling. He has brought so much into my life over these past 4 years--good and bad--and has grown into an amazing friend/confidant of mine. I would be lost in this world without him, and I would like to think that he feels the same way about me.