Over the years, I’ve learned not to give up on the power of love to transform an embittered heart. I’ve seen too many instances that contradict that timeworn saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The latest example that turned this adage on its head: My former FWB has ditched his list and has fallen fully in love.
Ditch The Dating Checklist?
You know The List. Your potential mate checklist. Chances are, you’ve had one of your own at some point in your dating life. You may very well still have it. If you’re still unclear what I’m talking about, let me give you an example: he must be at least 5’11”, athletic, not bald, never been married, no kids, well-educated, make more money than I do—you get the picture.
My FWB had his list. He was adamant about sticking closely his list, which covered both his ideal personality and physical traits in a mate, assuming that whomever fit his list best obviously would also necessarily be someone with whom he was most compatible. The funny thing is that he kept noting how much I fit his checklist in many ways, but he never wanted a real relationship with me (thankfully—we’d have been like fire and ice together.)
In 2011, my dear friend had marched headfirst into a disastrous, drama-filled engagement, knowing full well that the odds for happily-ever-after were negligible at best. For one thing, he wasn’t sure that he was in love with his fiance For another, their interactions were so dysfunctional that it was rare that more than a few weeks went by where they didn’t deal with hysterics and threats to move out. They had nothing in common and they couldn’t communicate with each other, but they clung to each other out of desperation.
Except for the fact that she had an exotic beauty, was significantly younger, and got along well with his family, she didn’t fit the picture of his ideal mate. Yet he stubbornly persisted with planning for a marriage until she finally had the guts to move out and break their engagement. He was more than a little relieved, but also depressed. “I’m old,” he lamented. “She was probably the best person I could find who would love me.”
The Power of Love to Transform And Heal
After numerous pep talks throughout the engagement and afterward, we fell out of regular touch. When he reached out to me last week, I was surprised when he said, “ I’ve started dating someone.”
I immediately began peppering him with questions. “Where did you meet her? What’s she like?”
“She’s not anything like I’d have picked out for myself,” he said. “She’s been married before. She’s the mother of two kids. She hates sports. She’s not well read. When I try to be witty, it flies right over her head.”
I sensed a turnaround though, as he had the energy of an excited puppy. “But she is an amazing communicator. She laughs at my peculiarities. I respect everything about her character. We have a passion that’s electric.”
I couldn’t suppress my own joy for him. “I’m so happy for you!”
“I’ll probably move in with her and eventually marry her,” he said casually, “but these things can’t be predicted.”
Perhaps not, but I couldn’t have predicted that my now 41-year-old friend would finally wake up to the realization that real love was about more than traits on a checklist, that chemistry was about more than appreciating pretty features. True love turned a cynical spirit into the joyful, hope-filled heart of a young man, with the wisdom of experience and lessons learned. Old dogs can learn—or relearn—new tricks after all.
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