It’s funny how the first paragraph of this page says “the love stories from real life are often better then the ones we see on TV or in the movies.” In many ways, the way the romance developed between my fiance and I was SO TV drama-worthy.
I was 16 years old when I met Nick, just starting my final year of high school. We met online, on a dorky anime golf game, of all things. I still find it amazing the things that happened for us to meet, as if it was somehow destined. For one, we met on a ‘tournament’ style match – where up to 30 players verse each other, often quite competitively (no chatting to one another). I rarely played tournaments – I was the social type who liked to play ‘vs’ mode with only one or two players at a time. My fiance, on the other hand, enjoyed tournaments but was extremely competitive and almost always turned off the chat, especially if it was noisy. Neither of us added other players to our friends lists often, and never ones we’d met in tournament matches.
I wish I could remember the exact things we said to each other … if I could go back in time and save that log for nostalgic purposes, I definitely would. As it happened, I remember somebody in the room was talking, and I replied to it jokingly – or maybe he replied first? I’m not sure, but either way, we were messing around with each other and I remember I found him hilariously witty. He tells me that that day, he forgot about getting a high score and just enjoyed chatting with the goofball he’d just met. We added each other on the game, and several months later, on skype. (Let me repeat, this is something we really DIDN’T do).
The attraction, then, was instant. I’d found him intelligent and interesting before, sure, but I suddenly got to see more of him – he was witty, gorgeous, exciting, charismatic, flirtatious and charming in all the right ways. And such an arrogant jerk, too. He was the real-life TV trope – a jerk with a heart of gold. A walking Damon Salvatore from the Vampire Diaries (not that I’d seen that show at this point). I fell in love so fast, so hard, so uncontrollably and against my own will. There was the Pacific ocean separating us, and I was still in high school. And yet he was my first love. I’d never felt anything like it before. The butterflies everytime I saw him sign on, the sweet things he’d say that melted my heart, the things he said that crossed the psychological line and left me uncomfortable and nervous… frustrated and addicted… I felt so boring compared to him. Loving him was complicated and dramatic and powerful. I wish I kept a diary because it was the only time I ever fell in love with someone, and the way those feelings develop, how it takes control of your heart and mind, when you’re in love with someone unpredictable and wild and crazy …
And he was wild and crazy. He was a player, the kind of man women go out with hoping to ‘change’. Although I knew loving him would be the best mistake I’d ever make, I didn’t fully understand him then. I tried. As I got to know him, I realised he had had an extremely difficult childhood and life. He’d been hurt and broken by so many people. I came into his life at the time that he had given up and just wanted to die. He was dating a girl who had cheated on him, hoping that it would give him the motivation to end it all. And that’s where I came in. He tells me now that I was like a candle of brightness in his chamber of darkness, and it excited him and terrified him at the same time. He was enthralled by me, and scared of what would happen if he allowed himself to fall in love with me, or if we got together, or when I finally couldn’t put up with him any longer. He did the cliche TV trope of pushing me away so he couldn’t hurt me.
For months, and months, and months. He’d leave, and come back, push and pull. I was always there, like a lighthouse he could come back to when he needed it. I gave up the idea of being with him – I loved him so dearly, he broke my heart but he made it soar. Never had I missed someone so much or hated someone so much or cared about someone so much. I just accepted that it couldn’t work. He was a reckless, wild spirit who was admittably quite selfish, hot-tempered and often made horrible decisions blinded by strong emotions. He had a serious anger management problem – though he’d never hurt anybody, he had a tendency to break things and self-harm (actually, he had an emotion problem in general – he didn’t get sad, he got heartbreakingly depressed. He didn’t feel anger, he felt uncontrollable rage. He didn’t feel guilt, he felt utter despair and self-loathing.)
In any event, this was TV love. In the movies, the girl eventually breaks through the guy’s shell, he reforms and they get together and everything ends up happily ever after, but this was real life, over the internet and couldn’t be real…
I dated other guys for several years. He continued his toxic relationship until eventually she dumped him for somebody else, which ultimately resulted in a very serious suicide attempt on his part that thankfully failed. We’d stayed in touch during his relationship (sort of, remember the push and pull thing he was so fond of), and as much as the attraction between us was undeniable I’d told him firmly that nothing was going to seriously develop between us while he was in a relationship, no matter how insincere he may have felt towards his girlfriend or what kind of character she was. I was determined not to be any kind of ‘homewrecker’. Still, he flirted with me, but knowing the player-type he was (he flirted with everyone, men, women, himself, his food…) I never took him seriously… it would be years before I found out he truly meant it every time he asked me to marry him.
Several years later, a real-life relationship I was in for almost 2 years fizzled out. There had never been any spark in it. Actually, all the relationships I’d been in so far had no spark – I realised that I was going out with guys, desperately trying to prove to myself that despite how I felt, it was possible to fall in love again, with somebody else. But I never did. I loved my ex, but I was never IN love with him. Still, I was a mess after this breakup – it happened at a bad time in my life, and I felt so alone and in despair… I shut off the whole world, and went into a deep, dark place. I talked to Nick, and nobody else. At that point, we’d had a long time to get to know each other. He stopped doing the appearing/disappearing act a while back, and we’d become fairly close, though he never gave up the appearance of a snarky, arrogant jerk who would never be able to seriously commit to a real relationship. I felt that he had feelings for me.. he’d confided very personal things to me, but I didn’t think the feelings were really genuine or strong. Still, knowing the kind of person he was, I expected him to ‘pounce’ now that I was single again. But he surprised me. Instead of being his usual arrogant, flirtatious self possibly trying to ‘win me over’, he was extremely sensitive, caring, patient and supportive as I slowly crawled out of the deep dark hole I put myself in. And even after he was stil kind and gentle. He never made any crude jokes or attempts of persuasion… just incredibly sensitive, apologetic and kind. It shocked me. After several months, when I was relatively myself again, he confessed his love for me, that he’d always love me, that he thought I was far out of his reach and there was no way in hell I’d give him/us a chance, that as heartbroken as he would be (and was) watching me be with somebody else, he only wanted me to be happy, and that he’d always be there for me and just wanted me to know all this. And that he was deeply sorry for everything he put me through.
I had never ever expected him to sound so humble. For him to pour his heart out to me, to expect nothing in return … and I knew he wasn’t faking it either… but this was huge. I didn’t really respond immediately. I was still a little wary, but his attitude never changed. Well – not entirely true, he did get a bit flirty again but the humility was still there and I’d never seen him so … open and truthful before. Finally, I decided to give us a proper chance. I actually asked him out, and he was completely shocked…
It wasn’t an easy start – as much as we’d gotten to know each other very well, we were still discovering new things about each other, and the first six months there were some fights. But the passion… my God, to be with the one you never thought you could be with, your first love, your best friend and the man of your dreams… the spark never went away (it’s actually still there). I flew out to see him and while we were both afraid our expectations might be too high and we were setting ourselves up for a possible disappointment… he was even better in real life than I had imagined. Our fingers fit in each other’s perfectly. My head rested perfectly on his shoulder – honestly, before him, I thought that was something that only happened in movies. In real life, putting your head on a guy’s shoulder might feel nice and romantic for a couple of minutes but then your neck gets sore and you have to move. But Nick… I fell asleep with my head on his shoulder/chest. He was the perfect height, his eyes the perfect shade of piercing blue, he did everything I had ever needed … he pushed me against a wall to kiss me, he spun me around, he took my breath away… and somehow, the arrogant jerk I fell in love with never quite disappeared either… He was loyal, committed, humble and honest – the only other time he’d been like that was with his first relationship when he was 14, completely innocent … but he was still occasionally snarky, he still had that piercing stare that made your heart stop, he still drove you up the wall and had you cursing his name at 2am like in the Taylor swift songs… but this time he wasn’t going anywhere. He knew his flaws too, and worked so hard to manage them – for me. He doesn’t have an anger management problem anymore – he struggled so hard, harder than he ever had before, to get over his anger/emotional issues. He used to have such a short fuse, and now… recently, while working, a customer grabbed his arm while he was making coffee with scalding hot milk, making him burn himself. He yelped, but was able to keep being polite with her as he dealt with her demands, and although he ranted about it with me later, when I told him that he can’t let people treat him like that, he got quiet and said simply that his job matters more, because he has to save for us to be together, and he can handle anything from anyone for the sake of our future. I can’t describe how massive a change that is … nor had I ever expected to see such a change, much less that I could bring it about…
Earlier this year, he flew out to see me, got down on one knee and proposed. We’re getting married next year, and we still fall in love more and more every day. He still drives me crazy, still gets on my nerves, and still gives me butterflies. He’s changed so much, and at the same time he’s still that self-centered, complicated, slightly uncontrollable bad boy that I fell in love with at 16. He’s my TV romance in real life – whenever I’ve told people this story, they’ve always said to me ‘my god… that stuff only happens in movies… wow..’
I could not be happier 🙂
Oh, and just saying – he really is like Damon Salvatore. This entire clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovQAg70_lms … amost all of Damon’s lines, he’s said to me, nearly word for word (except for ‘hurt someone’). When we actually watched the Vampire Diaries together for the first time and saw this scene… we were both a little bit speechless, to say the least.