One week after Valentine’s Day, I put the final nail into the coffin of a relationship I knew wasn’t going to work: I made our relationship Facebook official.
I met Chris on Match.com. After two years of online dating, I had been on what felt like a million first dates. Mr. Wrong, Mr. Uncommitted, Mr. Finding-Himself – I had met them all. I had passed the 30th birthday mark and was starting to fear that marriage might not happen for me.
Then came Chris. After a few introductory emails, we met at a local restaurant. Chris walked in wearing an Ohio State sweatshirt (my alma mater) and workman’s boots. He was an engineer by trade, but a country boy at heart, with a truck, a dog and a house 30 minutes away from any city lights.
I was used to dating attorneys, doctors, and finance guys. The douche quotient was sadly high. Meeting Chris was like a breath of fresh air. There was no slick or shine to him, no scent of the city hipsters I knew. He was what he was: an all-around, salt-of-the-earth good guy.
Most importantly (and this is key), he was really into me. He complimented me, he respected my work, and he was unflagging in his attention. I had played so many of the dating games – what do the subtleties of this text mean? Do I wait two days before responding? – that his clear interest was both flattering and compelling.
We started dating, and it quickly became serious. After two weeks, we were a couple. After a month, we were reading a marriage book together. We went from meeting to pre-engagement in about two steps.
Ironically, given how it ended, the person who pushed our relationship forward like a runaway train was me. After so many sleepless, lonely nights, wondering if I would forever be single, his quick commitment was a balm to my solitary fears. Here was a man with whom I could picture a future. And I grabbed it with both hands.
But even as I forced our relationship forward, I knew in my heart that he wasn’t quite perfect for me. While he went to church with me, he did not have a church relationship prior to me. He did not share my love of community and the disadvantaged. I was relatively well-traveled, and he had barely left the state. We differed in politics, in worldview, and to some extent, life expectations. He was such a good guy, though; I wanted it to work.
There was so much about him that made him right! I was old enough and experienced enough to know that perfection wasn’t possible. I was never going to find Mr. 100% Right. Couldn’t Mr. 90% Right suffice??
Yet with each milestone that we passed, when I knew I should have felt over the moon to be with my future husband, I felt instead a growing sense of dread.
Valentine’s Day, the epitome of love, became the catalyst. It was a perfect evening of dinner at a fancy restaurant and a night at the ballet. I laid my head on his shoulder, my eyes on the performance, but my head and heart were far away as I thought instead about our relationship. I wanted this to work. I wanted to be done with dating. I wanted to find my husband. I told myself he was close enough.
A few days later, I pressed the button that projected to the social media world that this was IT, I was officially In. A. Relationship. I had arrived. I was in a couple. Hallelujah, thank you, Jesus!
Yet as the congratulatory messages and likes rolled in, I did not feel excited.I felt simply numb. I had wanted the internet to magically make it real. It was a relationship because I said so, darn it. But it wasn’t. The more that people congratulated me, the more I knew that it wasn’t real. I just didn’t love him.
As that truth sank in, I had to tell Chris that our relationship was over. It was the hardest conversation I had ever had. I knew that I was breaking his heart. From his vantage point, the breakup came out of nowhere. With tears in his eyes, he asked me why, and all I could say was that I just didn’t think we would work.
Because I had been the one to push the relationship forward, what I did was unfair. But I also knew that it would never get easier, that it was the right decision. Despite my deep desire for marriage, I knew that I couldn’t settle for someone who was only 90 percent right.
Thirteen months later I met the man who is now my husband. I am so happy now that I took the gamble and held out for the man who would be 100 percent right. I hope that Chris, too, is better off with a woman who is 100 percent right for him.
Joanna Saul Carns is a thirty-something Ohio girl who loves serving the disadvantaged and her community. Having recently gotten married at 33, she loves to encourage Christian women in their 30s, 40s and later who are still believing God for Mr. Right. She blogs at Modern Ruth Project.