I met the man of my dreams in the middle of the night on the corner of 7th Street and Avenue A.
(Ok, I him on Grindr and then we met on the corner of 7th Street and Avenue A)
When I say man of my dreams, I swear to God I mean it. The cutest face, brown hair that looked both expertly coiffed and windblown at the same time, and a charming Australian accent. I’d find out later that night he also had a deliciously trim body and a big … heart.
Sometimes, you meet a guy and the connection is instant. In just a flash you can see how your whole life together will play out. He’s the man of your dreams. If you’re looking for Mr. Right but somehow Mr. Right doesn’t seem to work out in the end… you’re not the only one! Here’s what I learned from one of the times I thought I’d met the man of my dreams — and then had to come out to him as polyamorous.
To say we hit it off is an understatement. We clicked instantly. Conversation flowed easily. The chemistry was instant. He’s the kind of guy you can talk about the refugee crisis in Australia with, then shift into workout routines, and then shift into pop music (I know, because we covered all three that first evening).
In the morning, we swapped numbers and I walked him to the corner and pointed him in the direction of the train back to Bushwick.
Our second date was even more charming than the first. He looked dapper af and I said a quick gratitude prayer that I’d recently started working at an office again and was forced to update my wardrobe from “sweatpants and plains white tees” to “clothes a grown ass man can be proud to wear in public.”
You know when you have something to tell someone but things are going great and you have absolutely no idea how to work it in in a way that isn’t totally fucking awkward? And not only that, this thing that you need to share, you know that it will totally change the trajectory of the going-so-great evening you’re having. I’m on a collision course for that right now.
I managed, somehow, to bring up that I have a boyfriend. Not just any boyfriend, a boyfriend that I’m mere weeks away from moving in with. And there it is, that I-knew-it-was-coming change. He bristles. Not intentionally. Not even consciously. But I can see it. He’s sitting up a bit straighter. His body is held a bit tighter. His fight-or-flight instinct hits over tacos and Mexican Cokes.
He’s calm. And understanding. Nonjudgemental. Asks fewer questions than I was expecting. We walk and talk and as we wander through Soho, I begin to realize that we’re even more perfect for each other than we realized. It’s time to draw this date to a close. A short peck on the lips and that’s it.
We go on a few more dates. Each one starts and ends with a kiss but is otherwise devoid of physical intimacy. We never hookup again. And each time we get together it becomes more painfully clear to me that even though we’re hitting it off, even though we’re getting along grand, that this isn’t going anywhere. We’re not moving toward anything. I start to mentally recategorize our time together from “dates” to “maybe dates” to “probably just friends.”
But as each get together passes without progressing into … you know … getting it on … I become more and more smitten. He packed up and moved across the world somewhat on a whim (a feeling I can relate to as someone who packed up and moved across the country rather abruptly). He’s got a condo back in Melbourne that he’s renting out (he owns a condo?!). His family sounds charming. He shows me a picture of his nephew (they’re absolutely adorable together).
And then… and then it happens… This is how I know he’s the man of my dreams, or at least that I’m the man of his dreams: he tells me.
We’re sitting on my bed watching Please Like Me (a a gay Australian television series that he’s introducing to me) and he flat. out. says. it. “I don’t know what to do because you’re like, the exact guy I’m looking for but you’re taken.”
Now I’m the one unconsciously bristling. “Well, I’m not taken. I have a boyfriend, but I’m still very much available.” He doesn’t much know what to do with that, and if we talk more on the subject I can’t remember.
I walk him to the subway and as we stand at the top of the stairs, saying our goodbyes, he pulls me in and kisses me. Not one of those pecks on the lips we’ve been doing. A real kiss. Passionate. And we make out under the glow of the streetlights in the urban pseudo-park a the base of the Citi building.
And it’s everything.
Wouldn’t it be great if this was a lesson in patience? In giving people time to process new ways of being in relationship that they hadn’t considered before?
But it’s not. It’s a lesson in sometimes things just don’t work out.
That was the last time we kissed. It was the beginning and the end.
It’s also a lesson if: he’s just not that into you, he’s not the man of your dreams.
The man of my dreams wants me
Just as I am and also in all the ways that I could be in the future.
He reciprocates. He communicates. He’s kind.
It doesn’t matter how pretty someone is, or how many of the “right” credential boxes they check off, or how good the sex is…
If he doesn’t want you, if doesn’t love you in the ways you need to be loved, if he doesn’t share the core values that are nearest and dearest to you … he’s the man for you only in your dreams.
Let him go. No wait, you’re not even letting him go. You’re letting an idea of him go, the dream of him go. So that he might become who he really is. So that you might see your relationship with him as it really is.
You need this practice in seeing-things-how-they-really-are so you can spot the ones that matter most when they enter your life.