Fourteen years ago, I sat in a groom’s waiting room in a chapel in Las Vegas, killing time before my wedding. I was alone for a few minutes before my friends and family showed up, and everything was deathly silent to my ears even though all the hustle and bustle outside could be easily heard. The whole time I was on the couch, the only thing my eyes remained focused on was a sign in the hall that glowed in big red letters- the word, “EXIT”.
I wanted to run from that place and not look back. Every instinct screamed at me to leave, but I didn’t for a couple of reasons- One, I didn’t want to humiliate my family or hurt my fiancée. Two, I boiled everything down to nerves. The moment they called us to the altar, I knew right at that moment I had made a colossal mistake. Staring into the eyes of my soon-to-be wife, I knew she wasn’t the one. But I’d gone too far to back out, so I married her and hoped for the best. I was wrong.
Had I known anything of the misery the next few years would bring, not only would I have run screaming from that place, I probably would have set it on fire on the way out.
I was asked to write this article though I planned to discretely blow it off because my thinking was, “How the Hell do I know when it’s the real thing? I suck at relationships!”
Besides, I’m biased on the subject. I know of only one way to tell if you’re with the right person, and I highly doubt if it’s the same for everyone else on the planet. I mean, for me, the statement should actually be, “How you know when it’s NOT the real thing!”
I have dated so many girls over the years; I’ve become an expert in knowing when it’s time to get out. The only way I know I’m with the right person is when I see a certain spark in their eyes, one that lets me know we have a connection that goes beyond anything I’ve ever felt. I’ve only ever seen it twice in my life, and before I found it the second time, I never thought I’d see it in another person again.
Unlike some people, I don’t claim to be an expert in relationships, love, or pretty much anything in particular. I just take everything I’ve learned and experienced and write what I think. It’s really up to you, the reader, to decide whether or not my opinion has any merit. All I ask is that you don’t send me a ton of hate mail if your relationship implodes. If you do, send it to the person who owns the website. She loves the attention.
Anyway, since I have no idea what it’s like for a normal guy to know when it’s the real thing, I thought I’d share a story about my best friend and his own love story. Maybe you can glean the answer from that.
My buddy Juan was once in a horrible relationship with this woman who treated him like complete shit- beyond anything like what my wife did to me. She used to stress him out so bad that he had to take anxiety medication to keep from losing his sanity. There were some nights when he would call me up crying and come to wherever I was and ask for my counsel. My advice usually consisted of six words: GET THE FUCK OUT AND RUN. Not that he ever listened. Juan had a child with his girlfriend and stuck it out because he didn’t want to break up his family. Then he made an even bigger mistake- he married his girlfriend.
As any good friend would, I tried my best to talk him out of it. I said, “Look, you can still be a great father without being married to Lily. Just because you’re not married doesn’t mean you’re abandoning your daughter! Don’t do it!” I practically begged him. Not that he listened.
So he got married, and regretted it soon enough. Lily wore him down to the point where the guy I had known for years ceased to exist. The light in his eyes had almost gone out completely. Juan had gained weight and lost all of his self-esteem and self-confidence. He was nearly broken by the time he decided he’d finally had enough. It was a hard road, but he made it out alive.
One Thanksgiving night, he called me up and asked to come over. As we spoke, he mentioned a girl he met at his new job that he really liked. The girl, named Alicia, was someone he’d become friends with and kind of thought had a crush on him. With his self-confidence in tatters, he asked me if I thought he had a shot with her and if so, what he should do. I slapped him on his back and told him, “Dude, this is not you. Remember when we used to hit the bars and lounges back in the day? You were fearless! Be that Juan again. This girl obviously digs you- go and get her!”
Which he did.
Not long after, he called to tell me he was getting married again. I was incredulous. I thought he was making another mistake. That is, until I met Alicia. She was the sweetest, kindest, most beautiful flower that ever got plucked from Louisiana. I didn’t really have to ask Juan how he knew she was the one- I already knew the answer the moment I saw them together. The look of pure love on his face was unmistakable.
Some people think that look is something akin to winning the lottery, but it isn’t. It’s the kind of look someone has when they’ve found the person who completes them. Alicia had the very same look. After that, I didn’t say another word about their wedding plans. I just hugged them and wished them good luck. Now they’re two of my best friends and have never had one unhappy day of their married life.
I joke about being envious of Juan, but I’m really not. I’m glad he found his happy ending, and that I played a small part in it.
Sometimes it’s not a matter of “you just know”. Sometimes it’s a matter of “you just know when it’s right.” Fate doesn’t always have to take a hand in bringing two people together- sometimes all it takes is a friend.