The One Who Got Away Probably Should Have

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Caitlin Doe

Most of us have some flame from our past that we’ve idealized as that all-time perfect love. That remarkable, soul-matey someone who set the bar so high only Superman could clear it. And even though the romance flopped, we still visit it in our heads.

Three exes in particular creep into my thoughts now and then, although my rational mind salutes the reasons for the splits. From the start, I felt a supernatural pull towards them and I can’t really pin the chemistry on any one thing, except they had a certain amount of charge for me the average fellow doesn’t. Something between that Bruno Mars song, Just the Way you Are and zip-lining.

Number 1 was tall, dark and regal. One look and my pulse picked up. Our shared sense of adventure kept things exciting too. Like the time we used a long layover to squeeze onto a crowded train in Japan to find a trendy four-star restaurant, got lost and settled on street food. We jogged and hiked, scaling mountain, seaside, and waterfall trails, sharing that adrenaline and zest from spending ourselves physically in stunning surroundings. But, he was too secretive, too alpha and during conflicts, deep down, I think he expected submission, and I am not that girl.

Number 2 was quieter, creative and soulful. The sound of his husky voice was music to my ears and we loved to dance, build impromptu bonfires at the beach, and read each other poetry. Our minds joined so easily during heartfelt talks that I secretly wondered if he was telepathic.   The rub: he was commitment-phobic and almost passive aggressive, and we wasted way too many hours talking about it.

Number 3 reminded me of Number 1 except he gave great massage and spoke French.

Having had my share of magical love-movie scenes, I have learned that sometimes love comes to linger, but sometimes—like a wonderful, special-occasion meal—it’s meant to savor and release. Still, it’s maddening when great love doesn’t go the distance. I could blame it on voodoo, but truth: the flames who left their mark were great at fun, passionate, interesting times, just not basic relationship fundamentals—shared values, compromise, conflict-resolution and commitment.

Thinking perhaps it was timing, we’ve dug each other up over the years to explore would-shoulda-couldas, with the same results. Passionate starts, dysfunctional endings. Aaargh. You can only do backsies so many times before a relationship starts to resemble something the cat drug in, and calling it quits seems kind.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Serena

I wish I could say I wasn’t sorry we didn’t work out, but I’m not there yet. Every time they pop into my head though, I resolutely take another step away. If we were supposed to be, we would have figured it out by now.

This Valentine’s Day, however, I found myself reminiscing about Almost Number 4, a very funny, easygoing college friend with whom I felt happy, nurtured and adored although we were never lovers, and my only excuse for not taking up with him was that I wanted to be free at a time when he wanted to be super serious.

I got it into my head to Google or Facebook him, but was grateful I couldn’t remember his last name, except that it started with a B.

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