What does that mean, girlfriend?
On March 21, 2012 John asked me to be his “girlfriend”. I had no idea what that even meant to him.
I’ve used the term “girlfriend” casually and never thought of what it meant to anyone else. To John it was a big deal. It was a step towards “forever” and his experience with forever wasn’t a good one.
I’d met John eight months earlier, and I can say that the best thing that ever happened to us…for us… was the fact that we became friends first. Once the pressure of the possibility of a romantic relationship was taken off the table, we both relaxed and stopped acting like peacocks looking for a mate.
There was no need to try to impress the other in hopes of “pick me”.
So we had the time to really get to know each other. We spent hours and hours together talking about life, our pasts, our failures and fears. We shared some of the most heart-wrenching moments of our lives openly without fear of judgment.
When John spoke of his marriage and his little family, there was always an ache just under the surface that I could see and feel.
He told me how he worked two jobs so he could afford to buy them a home.
John shared that for two years he only had two days off each year because he knew his wife wanted a home of their own and he was determined to give her that. He also knew that he missed out on so much of his children’s first years because of that sacrifice.
Years later, when his wife came to him asking for a divorce he was shocked, as was everyone who knew them. They seemed like the perfect couple. They didn’t fight and were kind to each other.
John thought that meant everything was fine.
But it wasn’t. Under the politeness and controlled kindness was a couple that didn’t know each other or understand the passion that was needed to keep them together. She wanted more.
As with their marriage, the divorce was polite too. He helped her move their young boys to a town hours away, and moved himself into his shop to try and pick up the pieces.
As time went on, he moved to the same town his children lived and learned how to be the “every-other holiday” parent.
When he finally found someone who thought he was all that his ex-wife hadn’t, he asked her to marry him. He gave her a ring and they went looking for a home together.
And then one day out of the blue, she asked him to meet her for coffee and called it off. Just like that, it was over. Done.
For John, it was the one-two punch that knocked him out of the serious dating scene for good. Never again would he give a woman that kind of power to destroy him.
I knew all of this and so much more the day he asked me, “Will you be my girlfriend?”
I said, “yes”