When Mr. C and I first met in 2009, I was in a long-term, long-distance relationship with a Northern Irish guy I met while working in Japan. The relationship dragged on for years after leaving Japan, with me flying out to see him in Switzerland (where he was working) and him flying out to see me in the U.S. several times a year. It was complicated and I think neither of us were ever really happy. Being together was so incredibly hard. I know that sometimes it can be a challenge to make a relationship work, but this seemed like too much work—a constant uphill battle with too few good times in between. We were all wrong for each other, totally incompatible, but for the longest time neither of us had the courage to let go. Then I met my fiance and it was as if someone had lit a fire beneath me for the first time. I realized that I wasn’t happy in my relationship, that I hadn’t been happy in a long time. That realization gave me the courage to end the relationship. Even when you know you are doing the right thing, it can still be hard to let go of someone who has been in your life for four years.
After more than four years back in the U.S., I returned to Japan with Mr. C this past summer. (personal photo)
When I think back to this period in my life, I am often reminded of a scene from the movie 500 Days of Summer. Summer breaks up with Tom, the protagonist of the film, and a year or so after the breakup she meets another man who she falls in love with and marries. Tom later runs into Summer in a park and he receives some closure in a revealing conversation with her. He can’t seem to understand why the woman he loved, who at the time seemed unable to commit to him and label their relationship, was able to meet another man and marry him. She tells him that it happened unexpectedly; she woke up one day and she knew—she knew something she was never sure of when she was with Tom. It isn’t stated implicitly, but you know that Summer knew that she had met the man she was going to marry.
This is exactly how I felt in my previous relationship. You would think that after four years I would have known if I wanted to marry my long-distance boyfriend. But I wasn’t sure, and that uncertainty told me everything I needed to know.
With Mr. C I just knew, implicitly, that he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. In my previous relationships there was always a pit of doubt, an uncertainty. In some cases I dated guys who literally gave me wedding nightmares. I was terrified of the idea of spending my life with them. Not because they were bad people, but because we just weren’t right together. But Mr. C was different. I had a calm, knowing certainty very early in our relationship. I remember calling my dad one night right after Mr. C and I started dating and saying, “Dad, this is it. He’s the one.” My dad was quiet for a few moments. Finally he said, “I had a feeling this was different. I could hear it in your voice.”
It was not love at first sight with my fiance. We were acquaintances at first, then coworkers, then friends and then lovers. But very soon after dating him and knowing that I loved him, I woke up one morning, just like Summer, and I knew.
I think it’s a beautiful scene and I’m sure anyone who has survived a failed relationship can identify with both characters. If you haven’t seen the movie before, I highly recommend it.
How did it feel when you knew your significant other was the one you wanted to spend the rest of your life with? Was it a sudden moment of certainty or did it take time to come to that realization?