Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Love Story

Most of you know that I am very romantically inexperienced. And by inexperienced, I mean seriously naive. I've made mention of this in a previous post and if you've seen the movie Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore then you have a bit of an idea about my romantic experience. To sum it up: I'm 26 years old. I've never been on a date, never had a boyfriend, and never been kissed. For a long time that was really hard for me to deal with. I didn't understand why I was so unlovable. With time, I cared less and less. I didn't need a man to prove I had worth. Let's be real. I'm pretty freaking awesome. I know this and that's really all that matters. I'm a very happy person and I love myself regardless of what anyone else thinks. I've got flaws. Lots of them. But I love myself anyway. I know my good traits far outweigh my bad traits. So yeah, I don't need a man to know I have worth, but it's never stopped me from wanting to find a special guy to recognize that worth as well.

I started trying out dating sites a few years ago, and was kind of embarrassed about it, but at the same time, I felt like I'd run out of options. Clearly conventional means weren't working for me. I did Match.com and OkCupid for a while and nothing came of it. Around October last year I joined eHarmony after hearing a success story from a couple of my really good friends. I had pretty much the same luck as I did with every other dating site but on an even grander scale. eHarmony would send me new matches every day and if I didn't get to looking at them for a while they all piled up. At one point I reached over 800 matches and I had to turn off getting new ones. It's really overwhelming sitting there and going through hundreds of profiles, let me tell you.

Back in May a couple of my friends and I used the huge amount of downtime we had during a shift at work to sort through some of my eHarmony matches. In two days we had sent off 70 messages and deleted about 300 profiles. Sorting through it with my friends made the process more fun and we were able to get rid of a huge chunk of my extensive match-pool. Of those 70 messages we sent out, I got one reply. It was from a guy named Fletcher.

We went through eHarmony's steps of "guided communication" before we started having regular conversations. He told me that we started communicating at a really unfortunate time because he was heading out of town for the summer and wouldn't be back until early September. I was bummed, but we kept chatting anyway. For about a month we emailed back and forth probably once a day or every other. The more we talked the more we discovered how much we have in common and the more I liked him. He's incredibly smart, funny, charming, witty, and the sweetest guy I've (n)ever met. After a month went by we started emailing more frequently, multiple times a day, and I could tell he was falling for me too.

A couple weeks ago we decided to move to some form of instant communication and we started talking on Google chat. We basically haven't stopped talking since then. The entire time we've been communicating our conversations have been completely open and honest with each other, even when we have a difficult topic we need to discuss. About a week ago after working through one of those difficult conversations we did the unthinkable. We said "I love you," on Google chat, and with never having met or (at that point) spoken to each other.

I know what you're thinking. That's insane! You can't fall in love with a stranger on the internet! Believe me, I didn't think it was possible either. For a while I was thinking I was crazy for moving so fast. Part of me still thinks it is a little crazy, but the more I talked to my friends about it, the less crazy it seemed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that love is like sugar cookies. Stay with me for a minute...

When you make sugar cookies you can change up the ingredients you use a bit. You can make them gluten free, you can make them without eggs, you can make them with vanilla extract or almond extract, you can even make sugar cookies with no sugar. There are tons of different options and combinations for you to choose from. Once you have your dough rolled out you can make a million different shapes from the classic round cookie to holiday shapes to animals to hearts and so much more. You can do whatever you want. Once you've baked your assortment of cookie shapes you can top them with sugar dust or frosting or sprinkles or candies. There are billions of combinations you can make when it comes to making a sugar cookie, but you know what? In the end, regardless of how you made it, it's still a sugar cookie.

That's how I feel about love. There is no instruction manual for falling in love. It doesn't always happen as boy meets girl, boy asks girl out, they kiss, fall in love, get married, and have babies. Yeah, that's one way it happens, but it sure as hell isn't the only way. For one thing, sometimes boys like boys and girls like girls. That's love. Sometimes two people are friends for years and years and they never thought about each other romantically, but then one day that all changes. That's love. Sometimes they know after one date. That's love. Sometimes people fall in love with someone 10 years older than them, or 15 or 20. That's love. Sometimes people fall in love and don't want to get married and have babies. That's love too! Marriage and babies aren't a requirement for love! There is no one size fits all recipe for love! As Lin Manuel Miranda put so eloquently in his acceptance speech "Love is love is love is love is love is love is love."

So here's the truth. I'm in love with a guy who is 9 years older than me, who I've never met in person, and who I've only been talking to for 2 months. My love story is not any less significant than any other person's love story. It's different, but it's still real, and it's mine. I shouldn't have to hide my love story for fear of people's judgments. So tonight, on our two-month anniversary, we are announcing our love to the world, knowing full well how crazy it may seem. We don't care. We're happy, we're in love, and we're excited to see where this relationship goes. We both know it may not end the way we want it to, but we're just happy to enjoy what we've got right here, right now.

Being in love is an amazing feeling, and no one should feel like they have to hide it. I don't know if you've noticed, but this world could use a lot more love in it. Now, it has ours.

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