I believe a teenage girl lives inside all of us. Someone waiting to be chosen. Longing for recognition. Longing to be loved and cherished and admired. And seen. Anxiously waiting for this to happen and waiting, on baited breath, for validation. Even if we don’t want to admit it, a teenage girl is there, at the core.
I’m young. I’m fortunate enough to say that I have achieved professional recognition. I’m a leader in my field, a master of my craft. I love my career, and I’ve received a wealth of recognition just from following my dreams.
Then there’s the place where the rational and the teenage brains meet: love. I’ve been rejected a fair amount by people in my life: men, women, friends, lovers, family, mentors, foes. I’ve been abused and damaged. I still hurt. Mostly, I hurt by those I believed from whom I should have received unconditional love, as well as by those whom I’ve loved unconditionally but lost tragically. Both forms of rejection continue to be unexpected, long after the blow was dealt.
Recently, I’ve been seeing someone romantically. It’s been some time since I’ve dated, since I’ve softened my heart enough to get shy around someone. It’s a difficult exercise for me, but with this person, I want to keep doing it. Every time I ask for what I want, I am rewarded by being pulled in, by his turning toward me. At this point, when he turns toward, I want to leap into his arms. I’m beyond smitten and am falling. Deeply. And I don’t want to stop. Some days I think I should, when my doubts and self-criticism creeps in, but most of the time, stopping this inertia is farthest from my mind.
We met in an odd way; on an online app where you match with one another within certain proximity. Yes, I’m talking about your run of the mill dating app where you swipe in a hot or not scenario, but both of us have no purchased features, so we need to be within proximity, age range, and also like one another’s faces and profiles. I’ve never matched with anyone on this app, and I’ve been fine with that. I was not seeking a partner.
This seems like a mundane way to meet these days, so why are the circumstances odd? My proximity setting was within a 1-mile radius and the only time he was in that radius was for the hour or two he was at a meal with friends. Otherwise, he lives 300+ miles away from me. And yet, we connected. The chemistry was immediate and electric, in every way imaginable. So much so that he attempted to reject me early on, only to reconsider. Things, feelings, were moving too quickly for the circumstances.
And yet, this has progressed. We’re in constant contact, at least daily (if not multiple times daily), despite not getting a lot of face time with one another. Our friendship and connection has deepened just through texting, calls, and FaceTime, and we make time to connect. I have noticed, at times, that he doesn’t share everything with me yet, nor do I, and while that bothers me a tad, I understand it. The anxiety isn’t there like it has been in the past with other potential partners. Perhaps it’s because I have matured and perhaps it’s because I notice the effort–to be honest, it’s probably both things, but I can’t be sure.
This gets me to thinking about connections. Those I’ve had in the past, those with whom I’ve had a stronger bonds and still have fizzled. What makes these things different?
I used to believe that the connection was everything. In 2010, I met, what I have called, the “great love of my life”. We met, quite serendipitously, in an airplane. It was the perfect “meet cute”, the perfect beginning to a romantic comedy. I wasn’t supposed to be on that plane and actually had switched seats only to stumble upon the person I spent years with sitting next to me. We both believed we were going to spend our lives together. Until, one day, years into the relationship and after much talk of marriage, he realized he wasn’t able to stay committed. I, loving and respecting him, understood, and let him go. My heart was broken into pieces, pieces I believed to be irreparable. This was my great love after all!
In the nearly four years without him, in the relationships I have had with others since him, and, most importantly, in the relationship I’ve had with myself since our parting, I have learned the best lesson:
Relationships are only part connection. They are built and sustained on action. Not only is there a space component to them, there’s a time component as well. If both parties aren’t ready, aren’t in the same time in their lives, no connection, no matter how strong, will keep them together.
No connection is ever really missed, just out of place.