In what feels like a past life now, I once dated a guy for 2 years, who told me very quickly into our relationship that he loved me. On our first date he turned up with a single red rose, on our second two red roses and so on, until I found myself carrying eight roses around and had to say enough is enough, as a dozen red roses are not easy to handle on a date, and truthfully roses are my least favourite flower.
On the outside, this might sound like a start of a great romance, but it was anything but great. Over a period of two years, this man managed somehow without me knowing to change me into the girl that he wished me to be. Everything changed, my dress sense, how I styled my hair, the culture I embraced, my political views, even my beliefs were shaken. I pulled away from friends, and embraced his friends instead. He talked of our future together, and if I am honest it wasn’t a future that really called out to me. But he was so busy being this perfect boyfriend that I never stopped to question any of it, and believed myself to be in love. Then I discovered he had cheated and the illusion shattered. I remember standing in front of the mirror and just asking aloud “Who are you?” as the girl looking back was a complete stranger to me.
Wrapping my dignity around myself, I tried to move on. This included, changing jobs and even for a while switching countries. Over a year passed and despite trying my hardest I couldn’t move on. I dated other guys, who all happened to look like him or remind me of him in some way. I no longer had a clue about what I liked or what I didn’t like. Somehow I had lost myself and didn’t know how to find me again. I was missing being a part of something, missing having this guy who outwardly worshipped me; (be it secretly moulding me into what he wanted) I was missing the concept of being in love, when really I never had been to begin with. And as for him, why would you set out to change someone you love? Obviously, just like me, he was in love with the idea of being in love and not the actual person. But despite all this, unable to move on, I agreed to meet up with him, had already decided that I was going to sell myself short, because perhaps this man was my fate. Like a condemned person, I decided to have one last night out with my friends the evening before we were due to meet, and whilst out, I met my-would be husband.
I can’t say it was love at first sight; for one thing he was a little worse for wear and introduced himself by sticking his nose down my cleavage. He then managed to insult most of my friends, and I really am surprised that I gave him my number and even more so, that in his drunken state he kept it. The next day, I woke and my friend was moaning about the drunken guy from the night before, and I told her to shut up because he was the guy I was going to marry, (guess that was the psychic in me emerging) That evening I stayed home instead of meeting up with my exe, and as a reward I received a call from the new guy, who was now thankfully sober and very funny. We clicked from the start, but for his own reasons it took him two years to say “I love you” but I pretty much knew he did, as we were by then living together with our baby son.
That was twenty seven years ago, and I have never regretted not turning up to meet my exe, as to do so would have been to accept being with someone who didn’t love me, as I am. With my husband, I have always been real, never had to wear a mask, and always been exactly who I am, and not a projection of who he might wish me to be. And truthfully I can confidently say, that despite my numerous flaws (and there are many) he wouldn’t wish to change me, just as I wouldn’t wish to change him. My advice would be, not to put too much scope on three little words, and instead to watch for those you can be yourself with, and who make you laugh. Don’t stay with someone you wish to change and most importantly never settle for someone who wishes to change you!