Some errors in judgement prove worth it.

You convinced me to let you pick me up from home instead of meeting at the agreed upon location, as I’d normally do for a first date, because you wanted to be a gentleman and properly escort me to our destination. So, you waited at the gate surrounding my community. (I still couldn’t let you know exactly where I lived.) You stood in the rain, next to the car, holding the passenger side door open and wearing a Christmas-morning grin. Mission accomplished.

We got the day started early because you’d actually planned three different outings. You were so carefree, bordering on careless when it came to just living and enjoying life. The complete opposite of me. Fun was your motivator, and so it’s what we had for hours on end.

At the conclusion of a long day that felt short, you returned me to my place of residence. Inside the gate this time, you came to open my door, just as you’d done earlier and at each and every stop. We hugged, expressed having a great time and said our goodbyes. It was probably the best first date I’d ever had. Yet, I wasn’t sold on you just yet. Good first dates mean little. Everyone is on their best behavior. I knew it could easily go nowhere.

But then we had a great second date, and an amazing third. You showed me things I’d never seen, and took me places I’d never been. You came to my job on the other side of town a few times a week to take me to lunch. I could count on regular check-ins and inquiries about how work was going throughout the day. Your presence was made known and you always felt near. You made me feel supported and protected — As though you would be there, any time, any place, if I were to call and say that I needed you. You were my Prince Charming. I felt safe, and then I was sold.

We made our relationship official after I rebuffed your first couple of attempts so that we could get to know each other better before taking the next step. I wanted you to learn all about me, and I wanted to learn you — what makes you smile, what makes you blue. During this process, I saw the chink in your shining armor. I knew you couldn’t actually be perfect, none of us are. Such a revelation would inevitably come to pass. Oh, but your Achilles’ heel was deserving of much more attention than I gave it.

Somewhere between recently and long ago, you loved someone deeply. By your own admission, the relationship met its untimely demise at your hands. You’d worked tirelessly every day since then to make it right but it was not to be. She’d moved on to a life that did not include you. Left with no other choice, you reluctantly did the same. Or you tried, at least. The love remained, with her.

I was not the first person you’d dated in the aftermath. I was not the rebound. I guess I thought it less risky to engage and believed the coast was clear(er) for this reason. You were so incredible to me that I wanted this to be true more than I cared if it wasn’t. Thus, I made it so. You and me became a “we.”

Back before social media exploded and everyone had hundreds of followers, it was much easier to track the activity of connections. Like any other day, I looked to see what my Instagram friends had been up to, a group that included my gentle, patient, respectful boyfriend. This was the day you became someone else in my eyes, even if you’d been this person all along.

You left a comment under her photo. It was a type of forever proclamation about love never going away, always being there, or some sentiment equally sweet and reassuring if you were its object. I called to question you about it. I’d been so vulnerable, and so I was crushed. You were contrite and honest. You promised it would never happen again, but repeated offenses were not my concern.

See, it didn’t matter to me whether or not you did anything else to show me how you felt about her, only that you did in fact feel this way — Still. The act itself was not a betrayal from which I could not recover. It was the knowing that if someday, somehow, she wanted you back, you’d go running. I couldn’t do that to myself. Despite my affinity to all things you, I couldn’t be anyone’s “in the meantime” person. You protested, but I had to let you go. This little thing of ours felt abruptly, but undoubtedly over.

I sensed your remorse was genuine. You were truly sorry, and even sad that you were still holding on. You knew it would never happen. That relationship was irrevocably broken. Your logical mind had accepted this. It was your heart that was defiant, refusing to fall in line. The what-if, the slim possibility lurking somewhere in your soul was enough to encourage you to keep that door cracked open as long as you could. Even when hope is frail, it’s hard to kill.

We went our separate ways. You continued to check-in periodically, asking how I was doing and letting me know that you still cared. After some time had passed you even made a full-fledged attempt at reconciliation. But you were different, so was I — Different in ways that no longer felt like we made sense together. Our derailed fairytale couldn’t be put back on track.

So, I wrote this in tribute, knowing that you will likely never see it. I want to ensure my appreciation is known, even if just to the universe, for having been sent you — the person with whom for the first time in my life I felt I could be soft, and relenting. Thank you for helping me learn what I want from a relationship, and what I need to get to that place where I felt so free.

Perhaps we’ll be butterflies in another life and meet again. Or, maybe I’ll find someone in this one who is like you, but meant for me.

Author of the critically acclaimed book on women and relationship status, “Single That.”

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