I’ve seen that question posed to a few of my friends today. That kind of question makes you sit up and pay damn close attention to whatever the answer may be. It helps that two of the answers were given by two of the most intelligent & eloquent women I know. They were thoughtful, thorough responses to a question that is too often dismissed with tautologies like “When you know, you know”. I’m glad they didn’t shy away from the answer.
So, How do I know? It kind of comes in waves, I suppose, and crushes would be the first. I can “crush” pretty easily. Crushes are fun things that anyone can have for anyone. I feel like those can either be based in a physical, emotional or intellectual attraction. Physical would be the “F” in a game of “MFK”. Emotional & Intellectual crushes maybe someone on your “5 people to have a dinner party” list.
I don’t want to say it happens to me frequently… but it does. Internet Friends & Co-workers are the most common, mostly because we spend so much time together. Internet friends are an interesting animal because you really have a chance to get to know someone from the inside out. In fact, if you are a lady and we are in regular contact via Internettubes, then I have probably had a crush on you at some point. Maybe even right now winky face.
Crushes feel like the first time (the very first time): Easy, New, Fresh. It feels like when I was in the fourth grade and I thought Charlene was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. She gave me the classic butterflies in my stomach. I loved looking at her dark brown hair with the natural sun kissed highlights. I remember this white dress she wore and how I didn’t care what else was going on as long as I could look at her. We went to an art museum on a field trip. I watched her look at the art and I thought she was better everything hanging on the wall. I asked her to be my girlfriend on the bus. She said yes. I haven’t been that forward with women since. That’s how a crush feels to me. A Crush is 9 year old Matt’s version of love.
The serious stuff, the stuff that adult relationships are built on aren’t too far off of that, if we are to be honest. I had a girlfriend in high school, one post high school and then I met the woman I eventually married. It’s safe to say I didn’t date much before I got married. In fact, in the year and a half since I was divorced I have dated more than the ages 18-24 inclusive. I know most of the talk about my marriage was the end of it. Those end times are rarely ever good for anyone and the end of my marriage was no exception. The beginning, which never comes up anymore, was pretty good. We laughed all the time. We laughed at horrible tv. We laughed at the voices that we would make up for no reason. We laughed that we got along so well. There was a safety I found in her. We were friends. Being Friends was and has been my hill to die on. Friendship should be the foundation for any relationship. You may not have to be friends first, but you should be friends. We said “I love you” three weeks into the relationship. We were engaged at 10 months and didn’t look back. Until we started to look back. Maybe there were signs that we shouldn’t have been married (like she doesn’t like The Simpsons). Maybe we should have tried to identify the emotional baggage that we each brought instead of ignoring how they would relate. It was like bringing two cats together and not giving them time to acclimate to one another.
I have been in love since my marriage ended. Twice, actually, and they were both long distance relationships. This first time was my heart doing it’s best to love again after being so badly shattered. This is where I should say that being in love and being in a relationship aren’t always 100% compatible. I was in love with her, but I shouldn’t have been in a relationship. She made me light. When she sent me a picture, her eyes were the flame that lifted this old patchwork hot air balloon. I loved sneaking messages to her and clandestinely reading the ones she sent me. I didn’t care how much sleep I lost staying up until she could talk from 3 time zones away. I knew I was in love and that it meant something when I felt more valued as a partner with her than I did in 6 years of marriage. However, love went through my heart like a telescope with a broken lens. I was giving it all that I had. Turns out I didn’t have that much.
The next time was different. It started as friendship with an easy connection. Laughter was again the key. We talked every day. We laughed about dumb stuff. We laughed at important stuff. A few months down the line when we decided to give it a try, we knew not to make any declarations about a relationship until we met in person. That way, if we didn’t think it would work, we could say “Let’s just keep it going how it was and be friends”. We agreed to that. When we met in person, we knew it would work. Long distance relationships are hard. I think one of the reasons they are is it’s hard to start a conversation about whatever existential bullshit pops into your head. If you are me (be glad you are not), there is A LOT of existential bullshit that pops up. The days we spent together drew us closer than anyone I had ever been close to before. This time, love wasn’t about her outer or even inner beauty. It was not just her making me feel like a valued partner. I felt loved. I felt important. There was nothing about us that didn’t fit together perfectly. Then, like many long distance relationships, the distance won.
I can’t say for certain I will be in love again any more than I can say the sun will come up tomorrow. But there are good reasons to believe in both.
“The University of Oklahoma is opening up spaces in Housing for the displaced families! Call us 405-325-2511!”
I am the poster of the non-threatening boy band.
The Yahoo! that’s buying Tumblr isn’t Jerry Yang’s Yahoo!. It’s Marissa Mayer’s Yahoo!. This isn’t the same company that bought and subsequently abandoned Flickr. This is a different Yahoo!.
Also, I bet Marissa Mayer, ex-Google employee extrordinaire, is DYING to say “Hey, Google, Do you like Social? HOW YA LIKE THIS SOCIAL?!”
I may or may not have more feelings about this, but I haven’t decided what they are yet.