About a year and a half ago, after spending many years single, I met a man. He was perfect—handsome, my age, funny, financially stable, an artist, generous, a good cook, and a good lover. If I had asked God to cut me a man, it would have been him. He was my totally perfect romantic dream come true—well, except for the girlfriend. Yes, my perfect romantic dream come true had one major snafu: Polyamory.
In my early twenties I tried the whole polyamorous thing, only to conclude it sucked. It wasn't a road I wanted to go down again, but I really liked him. Within a week of meeting him, I knew I was falling in love, and I'm not the type of person who falls in love often or easily.
Everything about this situation told the rational side of me to run. It was inevitable that I was going to get hurt, and choosing to put myself in a situation where I would get hurt didn't make any sense to my mind.
Yet, something in me felt this was right. When I would check in with what my heart wanted—it wanted to love him, and when I would check in with what my body wanted—it wanted his touch. It was a scary choice, but I chose to listen to my heart and body over my mind.
In the year we were together, I spent a lot of time waiting. Waiting for him to have time for me, waiting for his attention, waiting for his touch. Finally, we would spend a few fleeting but tender and passionate hours together and then he would drive off to go back to his girlfriend. I would wait for him to leave before breaking down into tears.
Every terrible emotion that I would normally do everything I could to avoid became unavoidable: jealously, loneliness, fear of being abandoned, grief, depression, neediness. I decided to let them come up and not run from them or stuff them down. I let myself feel it all.
I often doubted myself. Many times I told myself I would end it, but when I would check in with my heart, it was still a yes.
My friends tried to intervene—telling me stories of times they did desperate things for a man's attention and how they would never do that again. But, the truth was, I didn't feel desperate. I felt like a woman who knew exactly what she was doing, even though what she was doing looked and felt crazy.
I even had two “spiritual” teachers whose opinions I highly valued tell me I should I end it. But, every time I checked in with my me, I was a yes to continuing it. So, I decided to listen to me.
As time went on, something in me began to shift. When he would leave, I would feel less upset. I began to be able to have conversations with him about his girlfriend without being consumed by jealousy. I began to want to control him less. I began to feel stronger and capable of handling my own emotions.
I began to feel less and less like a needy child, and more and more like a confident woman.
And, then one day, I woke up and realized I had lost the taste for it. I checked with my heart—it was over. I still loved him, but I no longer wanted this relationship. I had gotten everything there was to get, and now it was time to move on.
The next day he called to tell me he decided to be monogamous with his girlfriend. I smiled and told him I understood. We decided to get together to say goodbye and honor our relationship. We had a very sweet goodbye, and I walked away feeling satisfied. I went home expecting to cry, but I couldn't find any tears.
If I had tried to end it at any moment before this, I would have been miserable. I would have been running away from a difficult situation to avoid feeling bad. Now, instead, I could walk away because it was right and because it felt good to do so. I entered into the relationship a girl, and walked out a woman—a woman who knew to listen to and trust the longings of her own heart.
For that, I am ever grateful to this man.
On this Valentine's Day, I leave you with this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert:
"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.
A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master...."