From July 2008 until July 2011 I lived alone, in 2 cities and 2 separate single-bedroom apartments. What set it off was a breakup with my girlfriend of 3 years, something I initiated. The details of that breakup are portrayed from the other side in multiple blog posts and published in a book(!), all of which don’t really paint me in the best of lights. To sum it up, I came to a very quick realization, acted on it, and ties were severed quickly. I was able to move on very quickly. The other party was not. The rest is history. Opinions vary on if I’m the bad guy.
So I bachelored it in a new apartment far away from downtown and pretty much out in the sticks. It was a 25 minute drive to school, where I had one more year to complete my bachelors degree. I also joined the club volleyball team. I was hoping to find some sort of social connection at school but, being 8-10 years older than most everyone, was unable to fit in much. I made a few connections but they were mostly hometown ties as opposed to new friends and groups.
But I enjoyed being alone and exploring where I wanted to go and who with. I did not date, but that didn’t stop me from falling in love. There were probably 3 women who I was madly in love with, without even so much as a lunch date with any of them. Girl “A” was a friend of a friend, we all went out a few times and I paid much more attention to “A” than our mutual friend, who liked me. Girl “T” was a fantastic person who I met in class and fell for on the first day. We actually became friends and still are to this day. Girl “K” lived in Chicago and was miles away but on a couple visits I felt like she was fun, pretty and wholesome. Despite knowing her hardly at all, and despite her being one of my best friend’s best friends, I thought she was perfect for me.
But alas, hindsight is 20/20. I understand now, 3 years later, that I was merely alone and I was reaching. I was reaching for companionship, manifesting it in my mind wherever I found friendliness, and even mild attraction. I was looking for a quick solution to what I thought was a non-problem: not having anyone to share my life with.
I moved to Chicago in 2009 and almost immediately started online dating. I found one girl who was fun to be with but we had hardly anything in common. I broke things off with her once I met Girl “B”. I though “B” was great but it was the same thing as before: I was creating love where there was just companionship and a list of commonalities. So when I started attending volleyball meet ups and meeting new friends I found that I just wanted to hang out with them instead of with her. She was a great person, but we just weren’t as compatible as I had told myself we were. After 3 months I broke it off when I realized what was happening.
I swore off of online dating and just dedicated myself to having fun with friends. I wasn’t necessarily looking for love or even a date, I just wanted to explore the city and have fun with new companions. What happened was that one of my new good friends turned out to be my current wife.
Girl “N” and I had a lot in common, and we talked a lot in the early days as friends. But even from the beginning I could tell there was more to her than anyone I had ever met. She understood me, she supported me, she leaned on me, and she boosted my confidence. We ended up spending more and more time together and eventually we realized we were more than “just friends.” We were in love. It wasn’t forced, it wasn’t an expectation that I created out of nowhere. It was organic and pure attraction and emotion. We just loved being together and talking to each other about our lives, about our friends, and about our futures. So much so that we ended up moving in together and eventually getting married. And now she’s the love and light of my life.
I guess the point of this post is that being alone is kind of like being stranded in the middle of the desert. You have to be really careful or you’re going to encounter mirages. Your mind is going to crave water and shelter so bad that it will create it at some point. A lonely person will create emotion and connection where it isn’t if it gets to a certain point. I feel like patience and even restraint are the best practices for someone who is alone and unsure of where they will find love. Because it will most assuredly come from somewhere that you don’t expect.