This is a story of how two people, with no interest in a relationship, fell in love. I’ll be honest, we tried really hard not to. Watch your step. This one is a doozy.
Flash back two years ago. I was living in a rented house with my then boyfriend. He’s a great guy, and an amazing companion. Things just weren’t quite right though. We were meant to be friends and not lovers. We split up in November of 2014, but still had to finish out our lease until the middle of February 2015. He stayed with his brother most of the time. That honestly made things easier on both of us.
Flash forward a bit to New Years Eve. I had decided to move back to my hometown which was only about an hour and a half away from where I was living at the time. I decided to kill two birds with one stone by apartment hunting and going to a friend’s NYE party. His name is Joe (no really… I’m not trying to go all “John Smith” on you. His name is really Joe.) I am not much of a party girl. I’m the girl sipping her drink in the corner and hoping the cat will come say hi to me, but I really needed to socialize that night.
So we are playing drinking games in one room, and on either side of me are some guys that I’ve never met before. We exchange a couple words but I am generally too shy to start a conversation. But the next moment is when it happened. Such a small statement introduced me to the man that I am completely in love with.
Another guy that I have never met before walks into the room. He is wearing a bow tie. The guy on my left says “Bow ties are cool.” Now for anyone who watches Doctor Who, you understand why this was so important. You’re at a party with a bunch of people you don’t know, you’re socially awkward, and someone starts speaking your language. He was singing the song of my people.
“Did you just reference Doctor Who?”
“Yep! If you’re into Doctor Who, you should really talk to my brother. He’s way more into it than I am.” He gestured to the man sitting on my right. Yes, my current boyfriend tried to set me up with his brother the night we met.
So I turn to his brother, his name is Tyler, and he’s just about as awkward as I am. So as you can imagine, the conversation really didn’t go very far. So eventually, the man on my left, Ian, and I start talking again. We continued to play drinking games until midnight hit. Sometime after midnight we got to talking again and found that conversation came so easily between us. We talked about life and our mutual lack of religion. I honestly don’t know how long we talked, but he finally asked to kiss me. That kiss led to more kissing. More kissing led to finding a private spot for sex.
After that, the conversations continued, we played beer pong, and at around 6am, when the party finally started to die down and he was heading home with his friends, he asked for my number.
I know this story doesn’t seem all that romantic, but this story is far from over.
As it turned out, neither of us lived in the city where we met. He actually lived about 20 minutes away from the house I was living in with my then ex boyfriend. We did some texting, while sober, and decided that we wanted to see each other again. This was purely for the sex, but made easier by the connection that we didn’t fully understand at the time. He came over to that house just once. (Nate, if you ever happen to read this I’m sorry and hope you forgive me for that part. I broke the rules.) After the sex, we talked. He was very upfront with me. He told me that he had no interest in a relationship and that he was actively trying to leave Indiana. I told him that I was fresh out of a relationship and in no way ready to get into another. We were on the same page. We decided that as long as I was still living closer to him, remember I was moving to another city, that we would continue this arrangement. I had one rule. I do not share my men. I told him that he is in no way bound to me, but that I would appreciate it if he could let me know if he was intimate with anyone else. I wanted to have all the information I needed to decide if I wanted to keep our arrangement going. He agreed. This was tested. I won’t go into detail, but there were a couple occasions where he had to tell me things that I wasn’t going to be happy about. The honesty between us was a huge deal. This was not cheating. This was honesty.
For the next month I went to his place from time to time and our friendship grew. When I moved back to my hometown, neither of us wanted to stop seeing each other. We discussed it further, and since I would still be commuting for work we decided to keep things going.
As the months went on, our friendship grew, but he insisted that if I wanted to start dating then I should. So I did. Over the course of 2015 I went on dates with 4 or 5 guys. Stuck with a few of them for a couple months, but couldn’t make the connection because I knew I had feelings for Ian. What was worse was that I knew Ian had feelings for me too. Every time I started dating someone new, it was like we had to break up. It was honestly terrible. I cried. Maybe he cried. I don’t know. I was an hour and a half away.
There finally came a time during late summer or early fall when I was sick of dating. I was sick of constantly “breaking up” with the man I loved and trying to force a relationship that was doomed because I already loved someone else. That is when I told him that I wasn’t going to date anymore. I knew he still wanted to leave Indiana, I knew we still weren’t going to have an “official” relationship, I knew that it would likely end in tears, but that I would rather spend the time with him while I could. He was so happy about that. He’s not one to get emotional and sappy about things. He’s one to show his love but rarely speak it.
We took turns visiting each other. Life was great.
Then one day he tells me that he’s applied for a position in Honolulu, HI. I was devastated. I panicked. I was losing my best friend and lover. The next week, I accepted a date offer from a coworker.
This is the part where I almost fucked up my chances with the best man that I’d ever known.
In my mind… If he was really going to leave then I needed to move on. We didn’t really speak for weeks. It was hard on both of us. Worse for him. I had the distraction of the new guy. While I was distracted, Ian lost his grandmother, and I wasn’t there for him. I regret that.
Sometime in December, I receive a text from Ian telling me that he got the job in Hawaii. It almost felt worse than a death in the family. It was real. He was leaving and I didn’t know if I’d ever see him again. So we talked. We had some really long, emotional, angry, apologetic, and exhausting conversations. My focus was on spending as much time with him as I could before he left. His focus was on if he could shake the feeling of betrayal after I gave up and started dating another man. We hadn’t seen each other in weeks and decided to give it a try. The guy I was dating at the time was very understanding. Ian is convinced that it was just because he wanted the sex to continue. I’m not so convinced on that but maybe that makes me naive. I explained the situation to the guy. At the time, I was positive that it would only be until Ian got on the plane. Then I would be back, single, and maybe or maybe not ready to date again. I was very firmly against long distance relationships. I always have been. So he said he’d wait around and be there, in the after, if I was still interested.
That is not how things went at all.
Ian and I saw each other right before Christmas. We both had gifts for each other. We were both nervous because we had no idea how it would feel to see each other again. I didn’t want to drive there only to have him reject me because of my betrayal. It was terrifying. But we took it slow and found that things felt familiar and good. We enjoyed the time we had together. We spent NYE together again. Marking a year since we had met. He came to my place for that one. We didn’t go out. I ended up sick and had to work both NYE and NYD, but he took care of me and made it a memorable holiday.
I will never forget that NYD. As I was finishing up work he sent me a text. “Hey let me know when you are on your way home” No problem. When I got home, I opened the door, and saw that he was cooking. That part was planned. He said, “Ok. Dinner will be ready after a bit, but I’ve taken out the trash, cleaned things up a bit, the bath is running for you, and your computer is in there so you can watch Netflix. I’ll let you know when dinner is ready, but just go relax in the tub for now.” I was completely blown away. Remember I had been sick, so this was a very welcome thing to come home to.
At this point we had less than a month until he was going to board a plane. We saw each other as much as we could, but still had no plans of continuing things after he left. Because long distance relationships are crazy and the people in them are delusional right?
It finally came. The last time we’d be seeing each other before he got on the plane. It was the weekend before his flight. There were two going away parties. I had to excuse myself several times during both of them to go cry and get myself back together. I was losing my best friend, my lover, my partner. Everyone else was celebrating. Everyone else was so happy for him. I was happy for him too. But I was so sad for me. I had told him on a couple occasions that I loved him. He never said it back. I never expected him to, nor did I need him to. I knew he loved me. He showed it every single day. I never doubted it. The morning I had to drive back home I was in constant tears. As we hugged in the driveway I told him again that I loved him. He finally said it back. I thought he was just saying it for me, but in later conversations that upset him and he corrected me on that assumption.
This was 9 months ago. Before he left, we continued talking of course. We had some sad and emotional conversations. In the end we decided to give it a shot. Neither of us was ready to be done with the other. We had no idea what we were doing. There was still no formal, or official, commitment. We discussed the possibilities of going outside the relationship for physical attention, but that has never happened. Neither of us had ever tried a long distance relationship. We just weren’t done with each other yet.
Over the last nine months. He has visited Indiana. Two glorious weeks of time together with him and his family. I love his family. We still make time for dates. Just movie dates. We pick out a movie on Netflix and stream them at the same time, while texting. We skype, we text, we talk on the phone daily. I’m not sure we would have made it if it weren’t for technology. He is still my best friend. He is still the person I share my life with. He is still encouraging me to be the best I can be. I support him and the adventure that he is on. I could have never asked him to stay. He needed this. I needed this for him. I know that if he had never done this he would feel incomplete. We are stronger because of this. We have stayed true to each other. We tell each other what needs to be said, instead of just what the other person wants to hear. We help each other make decisions. We bounce ideas off of each other to make sure we have considered all sides. Its not easy. In fact it sucks. Most days I find myself telling him that I miss him and wish he was laying in bed next to me.
His contract is up in January 2017. We still have no idea what will happen at that point. Maybe he’ll come back. Maybe I’ll move out there at some point. I will be visiting him for a month starting December 18th. I’m beyond excited. There is no plan after that. We are playing this by ear. I’m not waiting for him. He’s not waiting for me. I’m not waiting for him to come back so that we can start our lives together. Our lives together have already started. Our lives together started the second he said “Bow ties are cool.” He’s not perfect. Half the time he’s an emotionally stunted ass. But he is my emotionally stunted ass. I am far from perfect. He is constantly having to deal with my socially stunted self.
So thats our story. I love it. Its not a perfect story. Its not even all of the story. There was so much in between. Parties, weddings, camping trips, Pacer’s games, birthday dates, nights in, family visits, arguments, make ups. That was just our beginning. We get to celebrate two years together on NYE in Hawaii. How badass is that? We are doing things our way. Not the way that the movies tell you to do it. Not the way “normal” relationships happen. We do what works for us. I hope, so much, that it continues to work for us. Because our future just looks like so much fun in my mind.