You hear about love at first sight, but mostly it’s bullshit, right?
How possible is it that two people who hardly know each other can develop the strongest connection known to humankind in minutes?
What about love at first email?
Is that even a thing?
To fall in love with someone you’ve traded casual emails with for oh, let’s say a short period of time.
And not even very intimate emails.
I’m talking about friendly, semi- flirty ones.
And then you talk on the phone one day and suddenly you realize you have fallen for this person.
After one conversation.
Absolute bullshit, right?
Except that it happened to me.
I even have trouble believing it.
I’ve tried psycho analyzing this thing to death and none of it makes even remote sense.
I remember the moment I realized that I had fallen in love.
I was talking to him on the phone, crying.
I was freaking out because things had gotten…steamy quite quickly and I knew it was wrong because he was married.
At the time I had a string of disappointing encounters with men as I was dipping my toe into the dating world and I had just reached out to him days before regarding his own personal conflicts, which we bonded over.
I was certain that I was using him as a way to soothe myself over these disappointing dating experiences and that I was allowing myself to get involved with him because I was vulnerable and he was attentive and validating and just happened to be there, so it felt good.
And I tell him this, with great conviction at first, but the more I talked and explained it to him, the more and more it felt like I was trying to convince myself of it, that it was something I was supposed to say but it wasn’t actually the truth.
I remember even as the words were leaving my mouth, my head was saying, “No, that’s not it and deep down, you know what it is. You are just figuring it out now.”
I think it would have been easier to pin it on my emotional vulnerability and to having a weak moment. That would have made it simple to explain away and move on from.
Love, on the other hand, is something totally different.
There’s no explaining that away.
I finish telling him my theory and he says that he will accept it if I believe that it’s the truth, even though he didn’t feel like it was the truth for him. I struggle with saying out loud what I had just figured out in my head and I go around it, confessing to him that it actually didn’t feel like the truth and it felt more like I was falling for him. And that scared and confused the shit out of me.
He is teary by then. I can hear it in his voice and he tells me as much. It feels very dramatic and sudden, this tonal shift in conversation. It went from “I might be using you and I don’t want to because I respect you as a friend” to “Holy shit, I think I’m in love with you and we can’t pursue this because it’s wrong so we have to stop talking.”
We go in circles for a little bit, dancing around the words that have not been said. And then he says it, “I love you, Sam.” And then I tell him I love him too. Just like that. He wondered if we could go back to being just friends. I say, “It’s too late, the unsaid has been said.”
After much tortured talk, we decide that we can’t be together and we say goodbye and sob for each other from opposite ends of the country.
You’ve heard the rest of the story so you know it doesn’t end there. The real ending is not any less painful, though.
Later, after we figured out that it was futile to stay away from each other for very long, he told me that he realized I had his heart once I was breaking it. And even though he was heartbroken, it felt good to know that he could feel like that again because he didn’t think he could.
He’s poetic that way.