During my tumultuous journey to find a suitable companion to grow old and miserable with, I ended up kissing quite a few toads (serves me right for having always looked for love in the swamp). Having been single for a number of years and having virtually no luck in the love department, I was finally beginning to embrace being independent. Although deep down I always had a strong desire to plant some roots with someone, I came to the conclusion a while ago that I was ok being on my own (well, alone at my mom’s house, with a roommate and two cats). Having been married at a young age and also divorced, I’ve somehow managed to maintain a moderately untainted view on relationships. That did end up changing slightly in the last few years as my faith in the opposite sex started to diminish like the pores of every Instagram model overusing Facetune. Remarkably, my lost faith in men didn’t stop me from going on multiple dates and exploring potential relationships. My (many) failed attempts at relationship bliss usually ended in the following ways: blocked social media accounts and a series of life lessons that were later discussed with my therapist at a rate of $99 per hour. Surprisingly, I don’t regret any of those disastrous dating experiences, (well, accept maybe one), because they all ended up leading me straight into the arms of a tall, dark and handsome unicorn with a killer sense of humour (and calves for days).
If you’ve ever been single, I’m sure you’ve been told on more than one occasion that when you stop looking, the right person will just show up. I’m sorry, but I don’t remember listing “must possess Great Gazoo-like qualities” on my ideal boyfriend’s job description. I’ve come to realize, that this is just what people say when they don’t have the balls to tell you that you’re being too picky. Don’t kid yourself, even when I wasn’t actively “looking”, I was still always looking. I don’t think there’s an unattached person on the planet who hasn’t inquired about the relationship status of the cute waiter or waitress at the bar or your co-worker’s non-ugly cousin you stumbled across coincidently during a full on Facebook creep session. You can try and convince yourself that you’re perfectly content in the midst of your “I’m just going to do me” phase, but you never miss an opportunity to ask everyone you meet if they have any cute single friends. As much as we all enjoy segments of our single lives, if an eligible candidate actually did appear, we would at least consider it (and by consider it, I mean already have Pinterest wedding scenario number three on deck).
To be honest, I’m actually really good at being in a relationship. But, I’m also really good at not being in one. Single-girl Saturday’s spent at spin class, brunching so hard with my girlfriends and even finding myself occasionally at the bar dancing to early 2000’s club hits till the lights came on, were all my version of living my best life. Being a sassy single was the persona I portrayed on and off for years and with each bouquet of grocery store flowers I bought for myself, I was more and more convinced that I didn’t need a man. I still don’t NEED a man, but I’ve realized that actually having one enter your life completely unexpectedly who buys you your grocery store flowers, is a total game changer. Having now found myself in a relationship, with a man who shares my love of antiquing and watching bad reality TV, this would normally be the point when I’d be anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop. We are just a few months in, but I can’t help but notice that both shoes are still securely fashioned to his feet and planted flat on the ground. While I mourn my single-life ever so slightly, I can’t help but be optimistic that I may have finally found someone worthy enough to share a Costco membership with.
Before you can even get to the stage in the relationship where you can comfortably wear your coffee stained at-home clothes in front of each other, let’s rewind back to your first date. You wake up that morning with butterflies in your stomach, you’ve rehearsed each story you want to tell, the ones that make you look even more adorable than your last Insta selfie and you even googled the menu of the restaurant beforehand so you can plan what you’re going to eat without added stress or distraction. The emotions leading up to that first date are the perfect mixture of anxiety ridden nervousness and child-like glee. If you can actually make it to the predetermined time without throwing up or changing your outfit six times (ok, fine…eight times), in my mind you’re already on the path to a successful first date. I personally always prefer to have my date come and pick me up at my house. There is something to be said about old school romance, and for me that means being picked up and dropped off at my door, like a lady (or just a basic bitch whose gas light is always on in her Honda Civic). Just a quick note, I would not suggest the pick-up method with your Tinder match, you don’t know where that Corolla’s been, or where it’s going (like that old abandoned warehouse down the street, we’ve all watched the Ted Bundy tapes on Netflix. Don’t be stupid).
After spending over an hour laughing at each other’s jokes and comparing dating horror stories over a basket of shared mozzarella sticks, you already know whether or not you can picture yourself in a relationship with this person. With each topic of conversation, you begin to assess whether or not the two of you are even remotely on the same page, or if this person really is as into watching Say Yes to the Dress reruns as they claim. In my case, I could tell that we weren’t only on the same page, but the pages of our book were written in the same pen. It also helped that we both love nothing more than to make each other laugh, which is a huge influencing factor for me. From the moment he appeared on my front step with my favourite flowers in toe and felt comfortable enough with me to make jokes and banter with the other restaurant patrons, I knew that this was something worth exploring (we’re talking Pinterest wedding scenario number one material here).
In the digital age of texting, it’s become a lot easier to communicate and continue the “getting to know each other” stage of dating without actually having to date. With every new message notification that you receive, the more you fall head-over-heels for your service provider (kidding). You can really speed things along with continuous text conversations and you end up diving deeper into a relationship a lot sooner than you would when dating in a traditional sense. Exchanging cute selfies and video messages in those first few weeks of getting to know each other, can really tell you a lot about a person in a really short time. The reality is, communication from afar is the new face-to-face. Some people may disagree with this method and prefer a more organic approach, but I really enjoy not wasting precious time. It’s also a tell-tale sign that someone is willing to put in the same amount of effort in communicating with you as you are. Just by sending a simple, “good morning, beautiful” text message (that I receive every day at 7 a.m, almost religiously), can be enough to ensure successful communication throughout the day. And yes, sending each other memes and photos of your grocery cart counts as effective communication these days too.
There is something to be said about being in a new relationship. Everything that person does at the start is endearing and lovable and being nose-to-nose with them 24/7 still isn’t enough. The two of you are presenting the best version of yourselves in those first few months all while nonchalantly trying to lay all of your cards out on the table. Because, let’s face it, neither of you are getting any younger. You automatically feel the need to take back every cynical comment you ever said (or in my case, wrote) that was directed towards the opposite sex and you vow to enter this relationship with a clean slate. This is usually a lot easier said than done, but since your new partner of 10 whole minutes can do no wrong in your eyes, the slate is so transparently clean, birds are flying into it.
You begin to seclude yourself from a majority of the world, and other than fulfilling your mandatory day-to-day obligations, the only thing that matters is spending every waking moment with that person (addiction in its most precious form). It’s a refreshing feeling when you don’t have to play games or wonder how the other person is feeling about you. Not having to play hard-to-get in order to get someone’s attention, made me realize that this is probably how it should have been all along. At the age of 34, I was happy to finally discover what everyone meant when they said: “when it’s right, it should just be easy”. Easy like Sunday morning….which are now spent on the two living room couches that we push together to make a fort. A fort of isolation.
One of the many benefits of being a couple is intensely getting into a television show together. The two of you are already in your own little rose-coloured world, so why not add the entire dysfunctional cast of 90 day fiancé to the mix? There is no better feeling than finding someone who gets equally as excited about marathoning the same show together on Netflix. Since you’re in the beginning stages of literally sharing everything from childhood stories to saliva, sharing the love of the same television program seems like a natural relationship progression. To everyone around you, it may appear like your couple style has been pulled straight out of the scenes of a Hallmark Christmas movie, but the second your partner watches one episode of your shared program without you, you will be the first to threaten to light them up like a Christmas tree.
Realizing that romance might not be as dead as you once believed, you start to bask in all of the joyous firsts that come with being in a new relationship. Everything is shiny and new, like the barely dry ink of Lori Loughlin’s criminal record. Suddenly you’re celebrating first holidays, special events and birthdays together, and find yourself putting emphasis on otherwise insignificant anniversaries, like, the anniversary of the very first visit to the emergency room you shared together (promptly followed by the second). As you begin to reflect on the firsts you’ve already experienced with each other thus far, some start to mean more to you than others. For me, the “first” that stands out the most in my mind, was the first time he snaked my shower drain- if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is. From the very first date to the very first time your boyfriend passed gas in front of you (which coincidently, happened to be on the same day), you come to realize that for the first time, you are falling hard and fast for a person you’ve only just met with little hesitation. Since everything has gone so swimmingly up to this point, we’ve yet to experience our very first fight, but I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll be able to get through it. Although I have no idea what our first impending argument will be about, I can confidently say that I’ll probably win.