I Fell In Love Too Hard, Too Soon
I am a stoic. In a new relationship, I tend to stay reserved and guarded. I hold back my feelings, and I definitely don’t let myself fall for someone very easily. At least not until I know for sure that the relationship means something.
Some people, on the other hand, are effusive. In a new relationship, they plunge head-first off the figurative deep end. They bask in the intensity of their feelings, and they are able to fall in love quickly and deeply.
And that’s wonderful. To me, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with embracing new relationships with all your passion.
At the same time, I’ve realized that someone who is capable of falling quickly and deeply in love can be just as capable of falling quickly and deeply out of love. Since we’re invoking clichés, I might as well bring up another:
The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.
And this is where passion becomes a problem for the stoic….
We met on a Sunday night. And we were together the next five nights. We just seemed to connect in every way possible, and we couldn’t get enough of each other. On Wednesday, as we stood in the darkness at the beach, watching a group of smelly, slumbering seals, she told me that she was falling for me.
At that moment, I had two epiphanies: 1) Instead of getting freaked out by what she had just said, I realized that these same feelings were welling up within me, too. And 2) even the stench of seal poop can be incredibly romantic in the right setting (and if you’ve ever experienced it, you know that “stench” is an understatement).
Something about the way she looked into my eyes told me that this could be for real. And so, my instincts told me to let my stoicism go.
I did, and I felt myself starting to fall—something that I hadn’t allowed myself to do in years. I even confided in a few close friends the next day that I believed I might have met the woman I was going to marry.
I immersed myself in these new feelings, soaking up the butterflies and the sparks and what-have-you. Over the next few weeks, we spoke the most syrupy things imaginable to each other: “I love you’s” wrapped in gushing layers of “forever’s” and “always’s,” topped off with sticky-sweet references to “soulmates” and “the One.”
I had never felt so strongly, so quickly for someone. In one of the many weaker moments that I had around her, I revealed how much it meant to me that we were starting off so intensely. That’s not how any of my past relationships have been, so I took this as a “sign.”
Maybe it should’ve been a red flag when she replied that her relationships always start with this kind of intensity.
I ignored that first pang of doubt, though. The intensity meant something to me.
Then, chinks soon started to show in this impenetrable fortress of love that we’d built. She admitted that there was still an ex in her life—an ex who was fighting to win her back. She assured me that she was ready to move on, that she would handle the situation with her ex, and that I just needed to trust her.
I did my best to trust her, but given the depth of my feelings for her at this point, I started to feel insecure about our relationship. That was our first fleck of imperfection.
Yet, I believed her when she continued to tell me how much she loved me, and how she thought she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me.
Differences of opinions and disagreements started to spring up. Some were over minor issues. Some were over not-so-minor issues. We even had a few fights. I figured these were normal for any relationship. But apparently, she did not. As I found out later, when our relationship turned out to be not-so-perfect, she started reminiscing about her ex and reconsidering how right she and I were for each other.
Just as quickly as she fell in love with me, her feelings started to fade. And exactly nine weeks after we’d met, the relationship was over, by her choice. Her explanation was simple: “I don’t think this is working out.”
Within days, she was back together with her ex. Over the next week, she revealed that she was confused and still had feelings for me. But, these professions of continuing love soon faded, as well.
Looking back now, I realize that we never had much of a chance together. Regardless of our differences, or my insecurities about the relationship, the underlying issue was the ties that she still had to her ex. I believed her when she told me how she felt about me, and how these feelings were there regardless of her ex.
But here’s the kicker: I still believe her.
For a while, I was bitter, because if she had never told me that she was falling in love with me, I never would’ve let myself fall, too. I blamed her for the pain I felt, and I was angry.
But then, I realized that she really did mean everything she said. She really did fall in love with me. It’s just that… well, that damned cliché about that freaking flame.
It takes me a while to fall for someone, but when I do, I fall. And it takes me a long time to get over them. This one won’t be an exception. Still, I don’t fault her anymore for not being like me. I’m the one who chose to believe that her feelings would last as long as mine.
Sure, I can sit here and proclaim to the world that if you want to dive headfirst off that proverbial deep end, then you’d better not drag someone in with you, because that person may not be able to navigate the deep end.
But, that’s just silly idealism. I can’t demand that others alter the way they approach life. I can only promise myself to stay guarded just a tad longer if this happens again.
In the meantime, I should probably learn to swim, because I’ve still got a ways to go before I’m back in shallow water. And in love, you can’t just slip on some water wings and float happily back to safety.