What if the person we love isn’t the person we want to be with?
I have this ideal in my mind. I’m not sure who put it there or when it began to anchor into the way I choose men. I’m sure my father had something to do with it. Now I’ve found myself in a situation where the person I’m falling for looks nothing like what I wish he would. It’s harsh to a degree, but it’s true.
I learned at an early age that looks matter because my mother, who was strikingly beautiful in her youth, gained weight in her 40s and that’s when my father started cheating on her. This surface reason for his infidelity became her permanent insecurity. She was sexually frustrated and ate to compensate. The point is, we all get a blueprint from our parents about how our looks impact the world.
I grew up under the belief that “beauty” meant “power.” If we aren’t beautiful, then we don’t have power. If we don’t have the power to manipulate men; they leave. So, if we aren’t beautiful and sexy, that means men will leave us for someone who is.
This belief turned me into an object and robbed me of my humanity. I tried and tried to be “the perfect beauty” to capture a man—but they all still left me. So, I began wanting to punish men for treating me like something that could be so easily discarded.
Until I met someone. He isn’t tall. He doesn’t have abs. He’s stocky and hairy. He’s not stylish. And, physically, he doesn’t check my usual boxes. But the chemistry is undeniable. We can talk about anything and we challenge each other by conversing about the hard things, the things we are “not supposed to say.” We are infusing what most call “the honeymoon period” with radical honesty.
I often get aggravated with the idea that I’m settling. But before I get into how I came to that thought, I have to explain how this all came about.
I was invited to a charity event with a ticket price of $300. I didn’t have the money, but I had faith that something was there for me, so I bought the ticket with my credit card. It was there I met him. He was the only person at my table who I clicked with. We started talking and soon discovered we knew several of the same people, ran in the same circles, yet had never met each other. So the way we crossed paths felt magical.
After the event ended, he invited me back to his place for tea—which happened to also be on a night when none of his roommates were home. It felt in flow to say “yes,” so I followed him to his home and when I got there he offered me a change of clothes. We sat on his sofa and gradually grew closer through progressive touch—he rubbed my feet, we cuddled, then we went to his room, then we got naked, then we had sex. It was easy and fun and in the dark.
A few days passed and I invited him over to my place. Then it happened: we didn’t have sex in the dark…and I saw everything. I was shocked that what felt good in the dark totally turned me off in the light. I was triggered by his several “less than perfect” qualities and I shut down.
Then he did something unexpected. He responded to my walling-off by telling me how he felt. He texted me sharing, “I get this may not be in alignment for both of us, but it really hurt when I saw you and you were cold to me.” This made me soften because I’d been in his shoes so many times—ghosted and left to pick up the pieces; which never really allowed for closure.
So, a few more days passed, and I called him. I was able to be honest with him about what set me off. He was able to receive it. Then again, something totally unexpected unfolded.
I thought that after our conversation he would just go on about his life and I would go on about mine. My sense was that although it felt like we had cleared things up, my defensiveness was enough to scare him off. It didn’t. Instead, he reached out and said, “What if we spend some time together Tuesday afternoon? I could come over or we could go out.” I followed my instincts and said, “Yes, come over.”
A good storyteller would go through all the details of our interactions, but what I want to share is that we fell in love. We cannot plan for the life that is meant for us.
As it turns out, my ideal man is something I couldn’t have dreamed up. And I’m finding that I am able to love someone even more than I have coveted as my ideal.
I have been chronically single. I know what it means to chase a man. I know what it means to pine after “Mister Almost.” I know what it means to keep my guard up and be a “strong woman.” And in this situation, all of my walls keep coming down.
To be clear, falling in love does not mean I’m being rescued. On the contrary, it means I am facing the ugly parts of myself because I met a man who is strong enough and caring enough, and who loves himself enough, to realize my defenses don’t define me.
I get to be loving. I get to be caring. I get to be sweet. And most importantly, I get to be brutally honest.
That is the challenge when we love someone who doesn’t match our ideal—can we be honest about it? It’s not their fault. Granted, there are things I want to change about this amazing man—but they are on the surface. And there are things I want to change about my body too. But, the real magic from our interaction is showing up in the moments.
We mine out what motivates change, speak our truths, and in doing so, get just a little bit closer to being who we really are each time.
Author: Rebekah McClaskey
Image: YouTube Still
Editor: Danielle Beutell