I am no longer a hopeless romantic. I no longer believe in love at first sight, "the one" or the concept of true love.
Something changes when you are the one who wakes up one morning and realizes you're not sure if you still love the guy sleeping next to you, the one who's been there through anything and everything, the one who's supposed to be "the one." That morning, for whatever reason, was different, and nothing thereafter will be the same.
Why is this happening? How can you progress from feeling completely in love to suddenly unsure to inevitably breaking up, leaving you wondering if you ever loved the other person in the first place?
I love romantic gestures; surprise flowers, candlelit dinners, handwritten letters. I love doing cute things, sending surprise gifts, going on weekend trips because you're young and spontaneous and everything is before you. But somewhere along the line, it's not enough.
There is no secret to love. There is nothing you can do when you don't love someone. You can't make someone fall in love with you. You're just there in this state of love's purgatory, with pieces of a broken heart haphazardly mended together until, like Humpty Dumpty, it breaks into another batch of annoying broken pieces for you to fix.
Something changes when your parents get divorced, when you console your friends after devastating breakups, when an argument changes the course of a relationship and no matter how many apologies happen, it's still heading due South.
There were times when I was fresh after a breakup and I'd see couples on the New York City sidewalk holding hands and kissing and walking in step and I was surprised to find myself suddenly angry. Livid, even. Like, you know the end result is either a breakup or marriage, right?
It felt like a boomerang of emotions. The more I poured my happiness out to others, congratulated a friend on their engagement, admired the cute flowers a significant other gave as a gift, the more it came back to slap me in the face. That critical, unapologetic voice came out of nowhere. You know you're still single, right? You know that "the one" is probably still out there with someone else, right? The biological clock is ticking, and it's not making you look any younger.
A friend of mine commented that I had been so much more confident a few months ago, but I no longer seemed that way. What happened?
It took me a while to think of the appropriate response. Where does your confidence go when you're unsure of yourself?
When you're fresh off of a breakup, there are so many possibilities in front of you. You can date anyone at any time. You have more time to focus on yourself and discover new things about yourself. The world suddenly becomes your oyster, and the pearl has never shined so brightly. There are so many possibilities it's hard to find out where to start first.
But that's before the luster dulls a bit. The honeymoon period of being single eventually wanes. The honeymoon period focuses on the positivity, the excitement, the hope. The honeymoon period often precedes the pointless dates, the idea of ghosting and overcoming mini-heartbreak after mini-heartbreak. These setbacks harden you and forces you to transform into a stronger person... eventually.
It also tends to shatter the once infallible confidence you've worked so hard to build.
Sometimes, the answer is staring you point-blank in the face, but your vision is too clouded with excuses and denial that you don't actually see it. Reality is one hell of a thing that can sober you up even in the darkest of times. The realization that he's just not that into you is probably the hardest of all.
There's a road that leads to the idealized notion of true love and you're all on it. While in high school and in college, some of your modes of transportation were in perfect condition, gleaming in the light with not a scratch to be found, while others had dents in the doors and had been banged up a bit.
Years later and after college, my mode of transit has finally broken down, the tires worn and the doors dented and the gaslight flickering. I see others speeding by, repaired, bandaged, yet some scars are still showing. You're hurt, but not demoralized. Stronger, not weaker.
At times, I wonder if I will ever catch up and if I will ever see the waving checkered black-and-white flag at the end of the road. Will I ever hear the applause, see the cheers, revel in the roars of congratulations?
Something changes when you realize you're all on this journey of finding the idealized notion of "the one," but you don't know when you're going to find them -- or if you're going to find them.
Something changes when you think you've found "the one," but they are in fact not "the one." Or maybe it is "the one," but you didn't realize they were "the one" until it was too late.
Something changes when you see the happiness of others, yet are still coming to terms with what it takes to make you happy.
I still believe that romance happens in the world and if these things happen to other people, then great. Good for them. I think love is the exception, not the rule. Not everyone has the ability to fall in love, nor should they fall in love. Some people, quite frankly, are just full of shit. I'm romantic, but my feet are rooted to the ground. I have hope, but I'm not "hopeless."
Something changed and suddenly, I am no longer a hopeless romantic.
Something changed and nothing will ever be the same.
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