Wednesday, 28 November 2012

You’re Like Coming Home

Every time I hear this song, by Lonestar, I think of my husband.

While listening to it the other day, it occurred to me that people frequently ask the question ‘How did you know he/she was “the one”?’

In my life, I’ve had enough first dates that I don’t know the exact number – less than twenty, but enough that I can’t recall the number precisely since I didn’t bother to count. Out of that, I’ve had three second dates, and two marriages.

When I was dating, and more often than not refusing a second date with the latest man in question, I was frequently told I was too picky. I reject that notion out of hand – I’d rather be alone than with the wrong man. That may sound bizarre, but when I was on my own, I was just lonely. When I was with the wrong man, it was a constant reminder of what I’d had, but didn’t now have. It’s easier to bury the memories, I suppose, when you haven’t got something rubbing your nose in it and constantly reminding you.

Those are the reasons I didn’t bother with a second date often. If I didn’t feel that ‘click’ immediately, some ephemeral sense of ‘rightness’, I firmly believed it would never be there. Sure, you can grow companionship and a sense of familiarity, but what I was looking for was more than just that. Some might say I was searching for a great passion, a wild love, and to some degree I probably was, but that wasn’t the indefinable something for which I searched.

Some of those first dates never turned into second dates because he also wasn’t interested. A few people told me perhaps I should be more restrained in my personality when I went on a first date, which struck me as the most incredible advice ever. So… I should lie about who I am until… when? When is a good time to suddenly spring on someone that you’re not the person they thought you were?

Since my first marriage ended because my ex-husband turned out to have multiple personalities (see here for all the sordid details), I can attest to the fact there is never a good time to have that conversation. You’re left with a great sense of betrayal, of deception, and impossible uncertainty because suddenly you find yourself in a relationship with someone you don’t know. The best advice I can give you for dating is be yourself. Seriously. If your date doesn’t like you, then he/she isn’t the right person for you. The best gift you can give yourself is holding out for that person who loves you exactly as you are. I didn’t want to change myself. I wanted a man who loved me for what I am.

In any case, I think there is something in the fact that of the three second dates I had, two of them ended in marriage. Clearly one of those marriages ended in divorce, but I don’t blame myself for that. Something like 99% of marriages involving a spouse with mental illness end in divorce, and I did everything I possibly could to hold it together (at great personal expense). But I’ve also never wasted time on a relationship that didn’t feel right, that was never going anywhere, that was just ‘filling time’ as it were. I’ve heard people say things like ‘He’s nice enough, but I’m never going to marry him.’ Then what the hell are you doing dating him??

I knew on my first date with my second husband that it was right. There was a quality to those hours, a comfortableness, a familiarity, something that just made me want to stay. That did make me stay, long after I should have gone home, and even when we did part ways, I didn’t want to go. I had plans the next weekend – my friends were taking me out to get me drunk on what should have been my first wedding anniversary. But he wanted to see me, and I wanted to see him, and so I invited him along – and he came. And survived the experience, which is quite a feat, since my friends are an oddball bunch.

I can’t recall any other man I would have invited out with my friends on what was, essentially, a second date. I can only put that down to the sense of ‘rightness’ I felt, and I can only assume he agreed to come for the same reason. There was something there important enough to be pursued – that feeling was the only thing that got me out on a first date with him, seeing as it was only six months since I’d separated from my first husband. I’d met someone who was too good to not take a chance, even though I was still something of a mess.

I never analysed that feeling he gave me at the time. Emotionally wrecked as I was, that feeling was a soothing balm, and it was enough that I felt it, and recognised it, and it was good. It’s only now I reflect on it that I can put that feeling into words.

Honey – you’re like coming home.

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