I almost didn’t marry my husband. It would have been the greatest screwup of all time. Worse, I didn’t really realize why until we’d been together nearly 13 years.
I was caught up in a battle between the pop culture image of romance and the true love that I finally found, neither of which have anything at all to do with one another.
This is what happened. My current husband was only weeks away from suggesting that we start dating. I had no idea, of course. I had broken up with someone a few months earlier, after a year of dating, and I didn’t have a thought to spare for my coworker/lunch buddy/future husband.
I’d met a boy on a plane.
I’d met a boy on a plane, and he’d given me his email address, and after my breakup I remembered him. The very fact that I’d kept that little slip of paper should have told me something about my previous relationship.
I thought I’d reach out and see if the cute boy from the plane wanted to get together.
The idea of myself initiating a new flirtation made me feel modern and strong and sexy. Look at me, chasing a boy I met on a plane! Just like a romantic comedy!
*** cue many, many red flags ***
I emailed the boy, and he wrote back. We made a date.
We lived a two-hour drive apart. This didn’t bother me (which it absolutely should have) because he lived in the same city as my ex. (That’s how we met, because we were both on a flight to his local airport - not mine).
For the sake of romance, I made the drive. I stayed at my auntie’s house and we gossiped about MY DATE. Ooh la la! How much of the excitement of a new romance comes from talking it up with your friends and family?
What are you going to wear??
Hair up or down??
Oh ma gawwwwwd! *squeal*
Check in and let me know you’re safe...
I drove to the designated place of assignation. The cute boy from the plane was there, just like in a movie. We hugged and walked around talking.
In retrospect, I did almost all of the talking.
We kissed and agreed to make another date. I went back to my auntie’s feeling very fluttery indeed.
Then I didn’t really hear from him for weeks.
I called him and we made another date. I really liked spending time with him. I thought he was cute, and he had a cute accent, and I liked his clothes, and he was my age, and he complimented me, and he seemed to be a great listener, and we had pretty strong physical chemistry.
Just like in the movies!
Then I didn’t really hear from him for weeks.
We made another date, Date Number Three. I thought of myself as a smart, savvy, independent and upwardly mobile woman, so this was going to be the test. How were the cute boy from the plane and I going to make this a thing?
Was this worth a four-hour round-trip every time we saw each other?
Who was going to do the driving?
I’d already been down this road with the ex who lived in the same city. Once I realized I had no intention of marrying that guy, I knew I wasn’t willing to do that drive for something more casual. That meant the same decision point would come up again. Who would move?
I liked this cute boy, and I liked holding hands with him, and he was a great kisser. I needed to know more, though. I set out on the drive for Big Date Number Three with my bag full of question marks.
The date involved both of us meeting in a distant city and going on a riverboat cruise. OMG how romantic!!!
I got seriously lost on the way, because I’m a terrible driver and a worse navigator, and I told him I was going to be late.
He yelled at me on the phone. He was genuinely mad.
I had nearly two hours to think about this before we met. He’d agreed to drive away and meet me in our destination city, skipping the whole riverboat cruise, and I thought that was accommodating of him. Still, he’d yelled at me on the phone, and yelling is a dealbreaker for me. If we both hadn’t already put in hours of driving, I would have ended it on the spot.
Let’s find out, I thought. Let’s just see this through and we can have the Where Is This Going talk.
As soon as we met, I started in. “You yelled at me on the phone. Are you a yeller, [Cute Boy]? It’s okay, lots of people are.” He didn’t answer me.
What should have gone into that conversation, what should have come unprompted, was AN APOLOGY. That didn’t happen, and I put it into one of the many pockets on my bag of question marks.
We had a normal date. That worked for me. Almost all humans are abjectly rotten at apologizing, and I wasn’t going to hold it against him if he could move past his anger and shake off a bad mood. As long as he got the point that yelling at me is not okay.
That afternoon I initiated The Talk. I held his hands and told him I really liked him and asked him how he wanted to move forward. Since we lived two hours apart, who would do the driving?
“Why do you have to make it difficult?” he said.
He didn’t want to have this conversation at all.
The two-hour drive, though! Four hours round-trip!
We talked for nearly an hour, and the lightbulb finally flickered on over my head. This wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t take this boy seriously.
Then he made HIS pitch. Since it was our third date. Did I want to go to Motel 6 with him?
“Or we could go to the Super 8. I have a coupon.”
I dropped him off at the Motel 6 and broke up with him by email that week.
What happened here was a classic Pursuer/Distancer relationship. I chased this mystery boy, knowing nothing about him, because the mystery itself made him more attractive. Our “dates” felt exciting due to the novelty value.
After I started imagining him actually in my world, being “boyfriend and girlfriend” rather than “dating,” the spell wore off. The practicalities loomed in my mind. Would I have to drive four hours every time I wanted to see him? Why had he invited me to a cheap motel when we both supposedly had our own apartments? Why hadn’t I met any of his friends, family, coworkers, or neighbors?
Why wouldn’t he give me his business card when I asked?
With time, I grew more suspicious. I started to think he was a pathological liar, or at least someone with something to hide. I thought he hadn’t invited me to his place because he had a live-in girlfriend (or wife), either that or he lived in squalor. I thought he was lying about his job and being “an entrepreneur.” He’d made other claims and I had no reason to believe any of them, either. I was 100% sure he had lied about being a Mensan like me.
A Mensan! I fell for someone’s BS and I’m a documentably smart person.
Here’s the deal. Between Date Number Two and Date Number Three with the cute boy from the plane, my current husband made his pitch. I should date him because he thought there could be something more between us. I told him we had nothing to talk about. I said he was only interested because he knew I was starting something with someone else. Why hadn’t he said anything sooner?
He almost walked. At that point, I had almost succeeded in permanently driving him away.
What are some differences between the cute mysterious boy from the plane and my lunch buddy/future husband?
I knew nothing about the cute boy, and I basically knew my work buddy’s entire life history.
I knew nobody from the cute boy’s life, and I’d met almost all of my work buddy’s friends and his daughter.
I knew nothing about the cute boy’s work situation or home life, and I’d worked with my work buddy for about a year and a half. I’d also been over to his house a few times.
I knew nothing about the cute boy’s value system, other than what he’d demonstrated through his actions (yelling at me, lying), while I’d spent many hours discussing ethics and life philosophy with my work buddy.
I couldn’t really tell you anything about the cute boy, other than my guesses and hopes and dreams and twitterpated feelings. I could tell you basically everything about my work buddy, from his favorite lunch orders to his personal heroes to his musical tastes to his finances.
What I had with my work buddy/future husband was friendship. That’s how we wound up married four years after we met. That’s why we’re still happy after thirteen years. We actually know each other.
I don’t have to speculate with my girlfriends about whether he likes me or not, because he told me himself. I don’t have to guess “what he meant by that” when he sends me a text, because I can just ASK HIM myself. I don’t have to guess how he feels, I know. I know him.
What we have is a companionate marriage. We’ve never done pursuer/distancer.
Why do you have to make it difficult, asked my cute date, the one who yelled at me, the one who never called and told me nothing about his life. Why? Because that’s reality. At some point you actually live together and do laundry together, and you have to expose yourselves and start having a normal, ordinary life.
Make it difficult. That’s my advice. Ask your questions and make sure you know what you’re getting into. Don’t be like me and chase after some unknown random dude when you might be losing out on the awesome guy right beside you.
I made it difficult with my current husband. We spent six months debating about how we’d move forward before I would agree to marry him. Because of that process, we spend our time laughing and cooking for each other and traveling around the world. Make it difficult enough and it will be easy ever after.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies