Why It’s Totally Normal To Lose Yourself In Love

dog rests gently on his master's shoulder while looking view

“The only person you should ever fear losing in a relationship is you yourself.” – Miya Yamanouchi.

So, here I am… two years out of a relationship and still single as a dollar bill. And while I’d like to think that I am putting myself out there, I’m not. I haven’t had the slightest crack open for a relationship to find it’s way in. This is not because I’m horribly heart broken. It’s not because I would prefer to have a significant income rather than a significant other. And it’s certainly not because I have commitment issues, daddy issues or any other “issue” that can be chalked up to living the single life. Single is not an issue, my friends. Single life is EVERYTHING. It’s a powerful stage to make headway in your life. It’s a time to fully and finally (!!) invest in you.

I am single because I’m focusing on a whole lot of whatever the fuck I want, and none of what I don’t. I’m working towards the dreams that make me nauseous with excitement and taking time to evaluate what I want in life with as little outside influence as possible. And to be frank, I’m being selfish. I’m choosing myself, by myself, for myself.

Again, SINGLE LIFE IS EVERYTHING.

(Until you realize it’s not).

The truth is that what is underneath all the cheerleading for single-dom is fear. Yep, straight up FEAR. I’m fearful that I will lose myself in loving someone else (again). The pattern is all too familiar.

You know the ones. Before their relationship, they roar with excitement for the things that make them come alive. They are full of high hopes, big dreams and outrageous ambitions. They push fearlessly towards their goals. They make time for their friends, their family and their community because they want to build their life in good company. They do spiritual work, take on new hobbies, and frequent the edges of their comfort zone to discover and reveal in the unknown. They workout to the point of exhaustion, not to look good for anyone else, but to know that they were responsible for creating that incredible pump inside their chest all by their damn selves. They buzz with enlightenment and insight and all the good things this world has ever given someone.

…and then love hits.

Love comes in and life’s ambitions take the backseat. It’s not intentional, and it’s certainly not something that is easy to see but then suddenly the person they were before the relationship is a long-lost ideal of who they are in the relationship. The love blinders are on and they are coated in the blanket of this new lustful existence.

Sweet couple in love spring sunny dayAll their beautifully directed attention towards their dreams turns towards their lover… and they pause. Time stops. Their big lofty goals are no longer in sight. They move from vision boards and ladies retreats to Saturday nights in, week after week, after week. They are in love, and they have stepped away from showing up for themselves.

And here in lies the problem.They lose themselves in loving someone else. 

They are so busy creating a life for their person that they forget to create a life for themselves. Their ambitions take a backseat in the name of “love”. Suddenly life doesn’t feel so uncomfortable if you never achieve those dreams… because, well, love. Everything is better in love.

The comfort of your lover ties you over when you’re having a bad day. The flowers they brought home slap a band-aid over the deep restlessness you experience in life. And with this band-aid on you can no longer see the holes you were desperately seeking to fill.

But the reality is that those holes are still there. They may just not be as blatantly obvious as they were when you didn’t have someone to come home to. In single-dom you had to face those discomforts head on. You had to work to overcome them. You were responsible for making yourself feel better. You, alone, by yourself. But in love… naw. You can push the uneasiness under the rug for a bit longer.

It takes work to be who you really are when you’re mending two worlds together. It can be confusing, and messy, and wildly compromising. It can also be beautiful, and exciting and deeply intentional. But if you don’t keep pushing to fuel your passions and dig up your holes, you will keep looking for anything else (everything else) to take their place. Love included.

We’ve all heard it before. Good, healthy relationships are not about completing each other, but being two whole self actualized beings choosing to share your love with each other. You’re not looking to the other for anything. You already have everything you need inside of you. You are responsible for that self-love. They are responsible for theirs. It’s about supporting each other in their respective dreams and wanting them to be as big and bright as they possibly can be. That, my friends, is love in the most basic form.

Because love is always the answer. Love yourself (foremost), love those around you (fearlessly) and love and acknowledge the stage you are in. Keep your intentions on being the best version of yourself you can be. We all deserve a little (lotta) self-love to make this world a happier, healthier, more supportive place.

Written By Emilie Talermo

(From Never Liked It Anyway, the number one destination for all things break-ups and bounce-back! It’s the place to buy, sell and tell all things ex! Sell your breakup baggage, tell your story and join the community of rock stars bouncing back better than ever! )

 

My St. Patrick’s Day Romance

Retro couple

My St. Patrick’s Day started like ever other day. I awoke in my small, dreary apartment to the sound of my leaky bathroom faucet dripping slowly. I sighed and then I crawled out of bed and put on my green-colored clothes because it was St. Patrick’s Day. I pinned a small, round button on my sweater which said, KISS ME I’M IRISH! I was only going into the office, but I thought maybe Charles would notice it, and that old spark of excitement would return to his eyes.

I grabbed a container of strawberry yogurt, and headed out the door. On the first floor of our building, I literally ran into my neighbor, Jack Diehl. He was coming out of his apartment reading a book as I hurried by, trying to eat my breakfast on the run. Neither of us saw the other until it was too late.

“I’m sorry,” I mumbled, as I tried to catch my tumbling container of yogurt.

After reaching down to pick up his book, Jack smiled a warm smile, and insisted the accident had been all his fault.

That wasn’t the truth, but I didn’t have time to stand around and disagree with him. I mumbled, “That’s okay,” and raced to the door, leaving Jack standing there with his mouth open as if he were about to continue the conversation.

My old car made its way into the city, until I arrived at my usual parking space.

My legs were sore as I walked up the stairs because they hadn’t yet recovered from the aerobics class I’d started two days earlier. Our old building had two sets of elevators, and both were out of order. “I need a change!” I muttered, thinking of how each day seemed a little worse than the one before.

“Denise,” my friend, Claire, said. She tapped my shoulder, as I pulled my swivel chair out from my desk and sat down. “His majesty wants you in his office. Now!” she said, rolling her eyes. Claire also lived in the same building I did.

His majesty was Charles Baldwin, our department head, and my boyfriend for the past seven months. He was the best-looking guy in our office. He was so gorgeous, and he was popular with all the girls.

In our department, however, Charles’s good looks couldn’t make up for the demanding boss that he was.

“I’d expected those new account reports on my desk yesterday,” he said, barely looking up from the papers in front of him, as I walked into his office.

“They’ll be ready today,” I told him, annoyed that he was so cold. “You didn’t tell me that you needed them yesterday. They would’ve been here,” I tried to say in a forceful voice.

Charles and I had agreed when we’d started dating, that our working relationship would not change. But lately, I felt as if Charles expected twice as much work from me as he did from the others in our department. It seemed that nothing I did was right.

As I turned to leave, I remembered that we had plans to go to a small, Irish pub that evening. We had been planning our St. Patrick’s Day date for a long time. We had decided that we would stand in line for several hours, if that’s what it took to get into the little pub that was known for its good food and great music.

“What time are we going this evening?” I asked.

Charles stood and turned to face the file cabinet that was behind him. “About tonight,” he said.

He didn’t need to finish. I knew he was canceling our date again, but he continued and muttered some excuse about helping his sister and her husband to install new living-room carpeting. I knew it was a lie.

He turned back to face me. “And take that silly thing off!” he said, pointing to the small, green pin I’d placed on my sweater, hoping to perk him up.

My eyes began to sting with tears, but I fought to hold them in. If Claire saw me leaving Charles’s office upset again, I was afraid she’d march in and throw a large stack of his precious account folders at him.

I grabbed the doorknob and began to pull, just as Cecily Dawson stepped in. She’d started work six weeks before, and my heart went out to her. She looked so young, and I guessed that it was her first job. It’s too bad she’s been placed under the supervision of such a tyrant as Charles Baldwin, I thought, as I left the room.

I headed straight for the water cooler hoping Claire wouldn’t notice me. She couldn’t believe that I was still seeing Charles after what a jerk he’d been. In fact, Claire couldn’t believe I’d ever started dating him. “He’s not your type, Denise,” she’d said, shocked when I’d first told her I was going out with him.

She was absolutely right. Charles wasn’t the type of man I’d usually gone out with. That had been one of the reasons I’d found him so attractive I was the girl who’d barely had a date through high school, and things really never improved. I’d been known for turning bright red if any reasonably good-looking guy even spoke to me.

When Charles had first asked me out, I’d nearly fainted. I couldn’t believe that this handsome guy, who could have his pick of any girl in the office, was interested in me.

I’d forced myself to remain calm, and for once I’d manged to throw my shyness aside and accepted his offer.

As I went back to my desk, Claire stopped me and asked if I was plat going to the St. Patrick’s Day party that was being held in the party room of our apartment building that evening.

“I don’t think so,” I whined, still wounded by Charles’s words.

Despite the condition of our old apartment building, the tenants had decided to all pitch in and go to work refinishing the party room. We usually had a party for every possible occasion, making sure our hard work had been for a good cause.

“Why not?” Claire asked.

“I thought I’d stay at home and work on that leaky faucet,” I told her, trying not to sound whiny. I didn’t want another lecture about how I should stop seeing Charles.

“Yeah. You sure wouldn’t want to go out to some stupid, little party when you could be at home working on your plumbing!” she said.

I had to smile. Claire always had a way of making me smile. I guess that’s why she’d been my best friend since fourth grade.

“I’ll stop by for you,” she said.  “We’ll go down to the party room together.” She finished her sentence, and walked before I had a chance to refuse.

I knew it would be a good idea to go to the party. Charles certainly wouldn’t be sitting at home all evening.

Then I remembered Jack Diehl. He’d only moved in three months before. Claire was always telling me what an interesting guy he was. According to her, he’d been all over the world to study sea animals, and then he wrote about his findings. He’d started teaching a course about his work at our local university.

I decided I’d like to talk to Jack. I was also very interested in sea animals. I’d even taken some courses in sea farming at the university. Of course, I didn’t know interested Jack would be in talking with me. After all, how exciting could I make my boring job sound to someone who’d traveled all over the world and really experienced life?

Claire and I decided to go to the little diner across the street for lunch. I usually had lunch with Charles, but ever since he become so distant, he preferred to stay at his desk and eat.

I tried not to think about him, as we prepared to leave. I knew he had a great deal of responsibility as supervisor of our entire department. He’d probably been overworked lately, I decided.

Claire noticed Cecily Dawson sitting at her desk behind a tall stack of folders as we headed for the door. “Do you think we should ask her to come along?” Claire asked.

I nodded, once again feeling sorry for the young woman. She looked like she could really use a break.

“Thanks. But I can’t,” Cecily said in a whispery voice. “If I leave my desk, I’ll never finish all of this.” She pointed to the papers piled up in front of her.

Claire and I shook our heads in disbelief as we left the building. We couldn’t believe that Charles had given her so much work.

After we each ordered soups and salads, Claire filled me in on the details of the party our neighbors had planned. There were going to be plenty of games, and it was going to be a lot of fun.

Our conversation was going fine, until Claire asked me if I wanted to invite Charles. I told her he was going to be busy and wouldn’t be able to make it. She sud­denly remembered Charles and I had been planning our St. Patrick’s Day date for a long time.

“What excuse did he give you this time?” she asked, as she buttered one of the hot rolls that had come with our lunch.

“He’s helping his sister,” I said.

“Sure he is!”

We ate without talking for a few min­utes, until Claire felt that it was her re­sponsibility to warn me about Charles again.

“He can’t be trusted, Denise,” she said. “Remember Debra Fulton and Susan DeMayo?”

I nodded. Charles had been dating Debra when I started working there. Everyone in the office expected the two of them to get married. They seemed so happy together. Then all of a sudden Debra started show­ing up for work nervous and upset, and she’d break into tears at the least little thing. That lasted about two weeks, and then she told us she was leaving work.

Susan was gorgeous. She started about a week after Debra’s departure. It was obvious to all of us that she and Charles were an item right from the beginning. They were both so good looking. Everyone thought for sure they were a match made to last. But after a few months, there seemed to be trouble in paradise. Then Susan shocked us with the announcement that she was quitting her job and going to marry an actor from our town.

“But we don’t know what really hap­pened with Debra and Susan,” I said. “It could have been just as much their fault as Charles’s,” I argued, trying to defend him.

Claire just rolled her eyes and sighed loudly.

Charles had asked me out a few weeks after Susan had left. I’d figured he wouldn’t want more than one date with me anyway, so I was safe. On our first evening together, I’d made it a point to ask Charles what had happened with Debra and Susan. He’d tried to explain, but he got so upset that he couldn’t. I’d figured he’d been truly hurt by those breakups. So when he asked me out again, I accepted.

The first few months we were seeing each other, Charles was wonderful. He always made sure we were doing things that I en­joyed doing, and going places that I liked to go. When he began to change, and in­sisted on planning all of our dates around the things he liked to do, I had no com­plaints. After all, we’d been doing every­thing my way for some time. The real trouble started, when Charles began cancel­ing our dates at the last minute, or didn’t show up for them at all. And when we were out together, he seemed distant and cold. On the job, he’d become more demanding than ever.

Maybe I’m not the only one who needs a change, I thought. Charles had been working awfully hard. He could probably use a nice, relaxing vacation away from the hectic pace of work.

After we finished lunch and started back across the street, Claire told me that Jack Diehl had been awarded a grant from the government to study animals in the Atlantic Ocean. She said he’d be taking off once again at the end of the summer. This time to spend a year aboard a boat.

“Now, that’s a life,” I said, thinking of how Jack would be out in the vast, blue ocean carrying on his work.

As soon as I reach the office, I thought, I’ll march right in and suggest to Charles that we take our vacations and head south where we can find some hot, sandy beach to lounge on.

Charles’s door was closed when I reached it. That was his signal that he didn’t want to be disturbed, but I felt my news was too important to wait. I was hoping that he’d become as enthused about a vacation as I was.

I knocked once and then quickly pushed the door open. I don’t know who was more surprised, Charles and Cecily, or me. Cecily was perched comfortably on Charles’s lap. Apparently, she and the boss had decided her large stack of work didn’t need to be completed so quickly after all.

Young couple having sex at workplace

Cecily slowly slid off Charles’s lap and slipped out of the room with a smile of satisfaction on her face.

“Denise,” Charles said. “Come in and sit down. Please.”

But I didn’t feel like sitting down. I felt more like walking over and knocking Charles off his chair and onto the floor!

“That won’t be necessary,” I told him, trying to keep my voice from cracking or the tears from starting. “There’s no explanation for the way you behave, and I don’t want to hear anything you have to say!” I walked out of his office, and slammed the door as hard as I could.

Everyone was staring at me with looks of sympathy on their faces. I guess they didn’t have to be geniuses to figure out what had just happened. Claire rushed over and started to put her arm around my shoulder, but I stopped her.

“I won’t be seeing Charles any longer I told her. I walked to my desk, sat down and started working.

That evening as I dressed for the partyI tried not to think of Charles and Cecily but of how I was going to fulfill the promise I’d made to myself.

Maybe I can go back to school and continue my studies in sea farming, I thought. Or maybe, I can move to a new town, start a new job, and meet new people.

I was concentrating on all of my options when the doorbell rang. I wondered who it could be. It was still too early for Claire to be stopping by.

I was surprised to find a deliveryman standing there with a large arrangement of flowers. “Denise Madison?” he asks

“Yes,” I said, and he handed me the large bouquet.

I ripped open the tiny envelope, anxious to find out who had sent them. The card read: Sorry about bumping into you this morning. I hope you’re coming to the party tonight. It will make my St. Patrick’s Day something special if you’re there, Jack Diehl.

I took out a vase and began putting flowers in it. I weaved the delicate baby’s breath and tiny shamrocks among them. It was a beautiful arrangement, and a very special one. I actually began to feel that a different and exciting life was possible me.

When Claire arrived, I was dressed in green and had placed a small flower from Jack’s bouquet in my hair.

“Wow!” she said. “You look great!”

“I feel great,” I announced, as Claire studied me with surprise.

“What’s this?” she asked, noticing flowers.

I handed her the card to read for herself.

She didn’t say a thing. She just smiled and I knew she was happy for me.

As we started for the door, I asked her to wait a minute. I ran back to my room and grabbed the small pin I’d worn to work that day. Maybe Charles didn’t appreciate my St. Patrick’s Day enthusiasm, but someone else might.

That evening, my life really did change. Jack was so kind and sensitive. Between games, he explained his work to me, and I was pleased to find that the classes I’d taken did help me to keep up with him. He also listened carefully as I explained what a fool I’d been to trust Charles.

Before we realized it, the party had ended. Claire told us they were turning off the lights and leaving the cleanup until the next evening.

After Jack walked me up to my apartment and we stood by the door to say goodnight, he looked at the pin I was wearing. The pin that proclaimed, KISS ME I’M IRISH!” May I,” he said, before leaning and kissing me tenderly.

ThinkstockPhotos-181862760

After that St. Patrick’s Day, my life was busier than ever. I worked each day, and spent each evening at the university taking classes. When Jack Diehl went off to at the end of that summer to continue, work, I went along with him as his wife, Mrs. Diehl. Now all of our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are special, whether on land or sea!

Tips On How To Find Your Soulmate

Milky Way. Silhouettes of hugging and kissing man and woman

1. See Yourself with the Perfect Partner

Envision the perfect relationship. That’s the start of your journey to a great relationship. Imagine someone with all the qualities you’re looking for and having that special someone as your soulmate. Your imagination will open doors and lead you to that special person. Take time out of your day and see yourself in this situation. Before you know it, that person will be in your life. In this case, mental imagery is your tool.

Often couples will say they knew he or she was the right one. This is because prior to meeting, each partner had envisioned some set of ideas they wanted. In other words, they had the perfect partner with those qualities in their mind. It’s very important to pay attention to what you’re thinking. You might be thinking of a special relationship for yourself but have a friend in a poor relationship. You need to not think of your friend with a poor relationship and continue to think yourself in a great one! Remember, your relationship is special for you. Believe it or not when we see other people in poor relationships, it can rub off on you since you’ve been exposed to the idea of a poor relationship.

2. Ask Yourself What You’re Looking for

valentine

Doing a self assessment of your needs in a relationship is tantamount to your relationship success. See what makes you happiest in a person. You might want a great wife and parent and might find that in someone. You might have more money than you’ll ever need and not need the financial support of your partner so a wealthy or well off partner isn’t a requirement. Or you might want to be a homemaker raising children. You’ll want to make sure your partner can provide the basics so you can raise your children and take care of your home with peace of mind. Having a partner who meets your needs in a relationship is the basis of contentment in your relationship.

3. Look in the Right Places

Romantic lovers with eiffel tower

Everyone has heard the phrase “Looking for love in all the wrong places”. Well you want to make sure you’re looking for love in all the right places. Join interest groups such as bird watching or book clubs. There are lots of activities that bring people together that are perfect places to meet new friends and lovers. You can meet people from online dating sites or join online communities and meet new people this way as well. You can check your local newspaper or magazine for a list of great places where people are getting together. You can take a cooking course for example, learn a new skill and meet new potential mates along the way! There are as many ways to meet new people as your imagination can take you. Stay open to new ideas and be ready.

4. Make Sure You Meet Each Other Halfway

Couple Enjoying Picnic On Cliffs By Sea

Relationships are not one sided affairs. It takes two to tango! And you have to remember you’ll have to negotiate everything from the start including seeing each other. You’ll need to compromise on some things from time to time. Some couples have different tastes in movies . He likes action adventure and she likes art house , relationship driven movies. They compromise by having every other movie they watch be one he likes or she likes. This way they get the companionship they love while going to the movies and the opportunity to explore movies they wouldn’t see otherwise. Meeting each other halfway is a building block of any great relationship. And it’s not just movie decisions. It could be where to live, schools to send children to or other decisions that require both partners to meet each halfway.

5. Keep Your Standards Up

Couple touching with heads before kissing

While it’s important to make compromises and meet each other halfway sometimes, your relationship shouldn’t be so many compromises that you don’t enjoy the relationship. Keeping your standards up will help you keep your chin up in this situation and be proud of yourself and your partner. Meeting at interest groups is often great since you can get insight into the person on an objective basis before any relationship has ever begun. Before one famous couple married, she worked for him. She was able to rise to head her own division at this company. He was able to see all the great qualities she possessed before starting any relationship. Now the two of them are married and coworkers in one of the world’s largest charitable organizations. I’m sure each partner in this case had mutual respect for each other as coworkers. Each partner has a sense of satisfaction in their choice of mate based on work ethic and productivity based on respect. Keeping your standards up helps you in the long run enjoy a more satisfying relationship.

These tips are a few that will get you on your way to a great and satisfying relationship. Seeing yourself in a great relationship is where it starts. There are lots of great places to meet that special someone including free online dating sites. Following these simple steps will lead you to your soulmate and true happiness that you’ve chosen wisely.

5 Ways He’s Saying “I Love You”

Romantic Hispanic couple in a park

One of the biggest steps in a relationship is when one person decides to say those three little words: No, not “I got food,” the other important words.

Saying “I love you” catapults your relationship into a new level. No longer are you only “in a relationship,” but now you’re in love. Those words hold a severity that can put a lot of pressure on the parties involved.

Once you reach the point where the L-word starts creeping into your mind, there’s a million new things that you start to stress over:

Should I say it first? Why hasn’t he said it? How do I know if he feels the same way?

If your boyfriend hasn’t dropped the L-bomb yet, though it can be tempting to start questioning the sincerity of your relationship, don’t start to worry quite yet. Words are just that—words. They are meaningless if they’re not reinforced through your significant other’s actions.

Even if he hasn’t said that he loves you, there are many different ways he could be showing his love for you—you just have to pay attention.

Here are a few signs that your boyfriend does love you, he just hasn’t told you yet.

  1. Asking About Your Day

Couple deep in conversation

It may seem like common sense, but when someone loves you, they care about your well-being. If your boyfriend, completely unprompted, takes the time to ask you about your day, that’s a good indication that he cares about you.

But not just that.

It’s important that you distinguish between him asking for the sake of conversation and him asking because he genuinely wants to hear the response. If your boyfriend is really falling in love with you, he will listen as you complain about what your coworker said at work, or that project that you need to finish, or what drama is happening between your girlfriends this week.

Maybe he’s not saying “I love you,” but he is saying: I’m invested in this conversation and I’m invested in this relationship. I’m here for the long haul.

  1. Remembering the Little Things

Couple relaxing together at home

You most likely spend a lot of time talking to your significant other, and, in that time, you share a plethora of details: your favorite ice cream flavor, what you’re looking forward to, what your scared of, etc. You may think all that information goes in one ear and out the other, but your boyfriend remembering all the quirky little things about you is a sure sign that he’s feeling the love.

Maybe he calls you right after your big meeting because he remembered the time and that you were anxious about it. Maybe he instinctively grabs your hand during the part of a movie that he knows scared you. It could be as simple as him sending you a picture of something that he knew would make you laugh.

As cliché as it sounds, it’s the little things that count the most.

Maybe he’s not saying “I love you,” but he is saying: I’m paying attention to you and what makes you happy.

  1. Making Sure You Get Home Safe

A smiling girl looking at her mobile phone

Like I said earlier, if he loves you, he cares about your well-being. This means making sure that you are always safe and taken care of.

Just a simple text of “let me know when you get home,” or “did you get home safe?” is a small gesture of love. Your boyfriend can’t always be with you, so taking the time to check in on you shows how much effort he’s putting into your relationship and how much he cares about you.

Similarly, if he checks in to ask if you’ve eaten or if you’ve taken your medicine, he’s making an effort to take care of you.

Maybe he’s not saying “I love you,” but he is saying: I worry about you and want to make sure you’re safe.

  1. Letting You into His Life

Portrait of happy young couple on scooter enjoying road trip

While him listening to you talk about your day can be a sign of his love, telling you about his day can also be a big indicator. If he calls you just to unload some stress from work or tell you a joke he overheard, he’s opening up his life to you and he wants you to be a part of it.

Maybe he lets you in on secrets or starts to open up about his family. Whenever he allows himself to be vulnerable or to let down some of his defenses, he’s showing you that you’re the person he can be himself around.

Maybe he’s not saying “I love you,” but he is saying: I trust you and feel comfortable enough to tell you anything.

  1. Introducing You to His Friends and Family

Group Of Friends Enjoying Meal In Restaurant

To me, this is one of the surest signs that he’s falling in love. This is a huge step in merging your lives together and it can, sometimes, be a make-or-break moment.

If he proudly introduces you to his friends and family, he wants everyone he’s closest to to care about you as much as he does. Put simply, he sees a future with you. If a guy is still unsure of his feelings, he’ll try to keep your relationship quiet. Telling everyone he knows is a big commitment; if you break up, that’s a lot of people who are going to have questions.

Maybe he’s not saying “I love you,” but he is saying: I’m proud that you’re mine and I want everyone to know it.

I’m 22, He’s 64–And We’re Crazy In Love!

Mature man with young woman smiling at each other

Don’t judge us before you read this!

It was six a.m., and my regular crowd was keeping me hopping. That was good news, I reflected. I’d owned the little coffee shop for almost three years, and it had served me well. My customers seemed to like the food and the style of my shop. We treated all of our customers special and didn’t rush them through their meals. Most folks appreciated that, and I appreciated their business.

Ever since I’d opened I had tried to develop a rapport with each person. I’d try to find something we had in common, whether it be books or movies or information in the news. I genuinely looked forward to keeping up our running conversations over weeks and months.

But no one person or one day mattered to me as much as Bill and Friday mornings. Every Friday, Bill would arrive early to have coffee and biscuits with his friends. He’d stay late and sip iced tea with me while I took my break. I grew to look forward to our visits. I felt we had a lot in common, and we shared the same wry sense of humor.

Every once in a while, Bill would bring me a box of chocolates or a new magazine, or some such nonsense. Once he even brought me a bouquet of flowers because the Winn-Dixie was having a sale. I knew he’d meant nothing by those gestures, though they meant the world to me. I treasured every bit of my relationship with him.

And I enjoyed our conversations the best. He made me laugh and had a wealth of history in his life that I never tired of hearing about. He flirted gently, mainly just teasing me with his twinkling blue eyes. Once he gently clasped my hand when I was sick. With a concerned gaze, he told me everyone in town could fix their own breakfast for once, that I needed to get home.

I found Bill to be one of the most attractive and charismatic men I’d ever met—and I’d met a lot of great guys during college and in the restaurant. Our only problem was that he was an older man . . . a much older man—as in, forty-one years older. He was sixty-three to my twenty-two. He was married the year I was born. He was old enough to be my grandfather.

And I was in love with him.

I glanced at the clock. Seven a.m. Any minute now the regular early morning crowd would be taking off, and I’d take my break with Bill. As I watched the group of four men depart, I waved to each one, then poured myself a cool glass of sweet tea and wandered over.

“How are you today?” I asked. “Anything new?”

He smiled. “Nope. Though I’d better get moving soon, if you know what I mean.”

His comment took me by surprise. “What? It’s only seven. You always stay until eight or nine.”

He rolled his coffee cup between his large, wide palms. “I know that, but to tell you the truth, I’ve been kind of wondering about my being here so much.”

I scanned his face again. Something was definitely different. “Bill, are you okay?”

“I’m fine, Becca.”

“Then why are you talking like this?” I asked with more than a touch of fear in my voice. “What happened?”

To my surprise, a faint blush rose up his neck and cheeks. “Nothing you need to worry about, Becca. It’s just nonsense about me being here so much.”

On the contrary, I didn’t think he came around often enough. “But you practically only come in on Fridays.”

“I think you and I both know I’ve been here a little bit more than that. Shoot—last week alone, I was here on Wednesday for dinner and Saturday for lunch.”

That didn‘t sound like too much! “A guy has to eat.”

“There are other places, Becca.”

“I know that, but I also know that other people eat here just as often. And I honestly do appreciate everyone’s business.”

Bill took a fortifying sip of coffee and met my gaze. “I’m going to be honest with you, even though it’s hard to say. Becca, honey, if you want to know the flat-out truth . . . I don’t always come in just for food. I come in to see you.”

That made me happy! Really happy. “I like seeing you, too.”

“I’m afraid there are people who don’t see our relationship as innocent as it is. Matter of fact, I’m thinking that some people have turned our friendship into something kind of ugly and twisted.” He laughed hollowly. “People are saying that we’re having an affair. Can you imagine?”

Oh, yes, I could! But I knew I couldn’t say such a thing to Bill, so I scooted a little closer to him and decided to do my best to tell him how I felt.

First, I quickly scanned the rest of the restaurant. Kendra was looking at us strangely, but she was taking care of the two tables in the front. I knew I was going to have to go help her take care of the second morning wave in a few minutes.

“I don’t care that people are talking about us, Bill. I really don’t. They just need something else to occupy their minds.”

“Becca—”

I held up my index finger and daringly pressed it against his lips to silent him. “To be honest, when you come in, my nerves awaken and my whole body feels excited. I do like you, Bill. I like you more than just as a friend.” I leaned forward and met his startled gaze head-on. “I like you the way a woman likes a man.”

Poor Bill went white and looked like he was about to fall off his chair. “You don’t know what you’re saying,” he whispered.

“I think I do. And I think you’ve felt the same way.”

“It doesn’t matter whether I have or haven’t,” he sputtered. “Becca, I’m sixty-three years old!”

I couldn’t help but smile. “I know that. I bought you a puzzle for your last birthday. Don’t you recall?”

His shoulders slumped. “That was you giving a sweet gift to an old man.”

“Don’t you remember what I said on the card?”

He looked away, telling me in every way that he did, indeed, recall my words.

“I wrote that all you had to do,” I reminded him, “was name the date and I’d work on that puzzle with you . . . by your side.”

Bill stared at me silently for a good long while. I knew he was desperately trying to think of something, anything, that would sound reasonable to me but not reveal his true feelings. He had no idea, however, how much his piercing blue eyes revealed of his soul.

“At this time in my life, no one is going to pay me much mind. But you—you’re a young girl. A relationship with me, even an overly friendly one, could damage your reputation for years.”

He cleared his throat. “Right now, you might not care about that. Right now, you might be thinking of only today. But I’ve lived a long life, and I’m here to tell you that what you’re suggesting is something that you would regret for years and years to come.”

“I’m not a girl, Bill. I’m a woman, and I know what I want.” Feeling brazen, I leaned forward, close enough that the tips of my breasts skimmed the opening of his jacket. A smoky haze filled Bill’s blue eyes. Instinctively I knew he was just as aware of my body as I was his.

That slight connection sent yet another round of shock waves through me. I felt breathless and exhilarated. “And, Bill, here’s something else to think about: I don’t need you now or tomorrow. I’m willing to wait for you. Until you want me in your life badly enough that you don’t want to wait anymore, either.”

Bill pulled back, breaking our tenuous contact. “I’m going to go,” he whispered.

“See you tomorrow?”

“I don’t know.”

“You can’t hide from what we feel, Bill,” I said with far more attitude than I felt. “It will still be there, just waiting for us to bring it out in the open.”

And with that, I turned around and went back to the counter, keeping my face down so as not to meet anyone else’s gaze. I suddenly felt embarrassed, and more than a little mortified at what I’d just done.

Because I had just realized that I’d probably not only ruined any chance I might have had of being with the man I loved, but now we might not even be friends!

What had I done?

I worked my shift and went home to my lonely apartment on the second floor of an old duplex in town. I usually found it quite cozy; I’d decorated it with shades of blue and green and had a number of soft quilts scattered around for added comfort. But to my eye, just then, my place only seemed rather sad and neglected.

Would I ever be at a place in my life when I actually had time to fuss with my things? To rearrange furniture, or think about painting a wall? It sure didn’t seem like it was in my future anytime soon. All I ever did was go to work, attend church, run errands on my day off, and do an occasional puzzle when time allowed.

Some days I just felt like I went through the motions, never having time to stop and appreciate my life or my accomplishments. With a sigh, I plopped on the couch and tried to read a romance novel I’d picked up at the store.

Days passed, and Bill didn’t show up at the diner. Several of his friends did, though, and they pointedly cast speculative looks at me when I served them their coffee and breakfasts. It was all I could do to keep a lighthearted smile on my face and act like I didn’t have a care in the world. In truth, I was worried sick.

a blonde waitress delivers a meal to her customersSuddenly I wondered if perhaps Bill hated me now. Or maybe he’d made a joke to his friends about my “puppy love,” and they were all laughing about me behind my back. I really couldn’t think of another reason he wouldn’t visit the diner three days in a row. To the best of my knowledge, that had never happened before.

But what if he was sick? I knew he didn’t have family in town; that was one of the things we’d talked about, how we were alone in New London, Texas. What if he was home sick, all by himself, and was too proud to call for help?

I realized I’d have to swallow my own pride to ask the men I was serving coffee about Bill. So what if they laughed at me?

With a determined step, I approached Bill’s friends. “Jim, Mr. Conner? Do any of you know where Bill is?”

All talk at the table ceased. It felt like the whole diner had suddenly become silent. But, to my surprise, neither Jim nor Mr. Conner started grinning mischievously, and none of the men cracked a joke or made light of my inquiry. Instead they each looked at me with concern and genuine affection.

“Come sit a spell with us, Becca,” Jim offered.

Hesitantly, I slid next to Mr. Conner. I didn’t say a word; I didn’t have any idea what they were thinking, and I couldn’t forget that, no matter what happened between Bill and me, I would still see them all on a daily basis. I couldn’t completely forget about the rest of the world.

Finally, Mr. Conner spoke. “Lately, quite a few people have noticed you and Bill visiting quite a bit.” His two bushy eyebrows rose slightly. “And people have been saying it was real friendly-like.”

That, I could answer. “I have been sitting with him as much as possible. We have a lot in common.”

That won a few chuckles. “Is that right?” Mr. G. asked me from the other corner of the booth.

“We both like to read mysteries and do puzzles. Neither of us have family here. I like to cook, he likes to garden.” I shrugged. “I’d say we actually do have quite a lot in common. Wouldn’t you?”

The men looked uncomfortable.

“Becca, Bill doesn’t know what to think of this attention,” Mr. Connor said.

“I told him what I thought of it in a private conversation a few days ago.”

“Bill didn’t share your exact words, but I will tell you that whatever you said did catch him off guard.”

I felt chagrined. “Mr. Conner, I know this is a strange conversation, but what if I told you that I like this man in a romantic way?”

“I’d say you were a fool.”

“What if I said that Bill makes me smile? That I feel comfortable with him?”

“Plenty of men your own age for that,” he retorted. He shared a smug look with his buddies.

I’d had enough. I slid out of the booth and smiled grimly at the quartet of men. I knew they cared about Bill and didn’t want to embarrass him. They cared about me, too—but now that I had admitted my feelings, I didn’t see any reason to hold back any longer.

“Listen, most guys my age don’t interest me. Sure, their bodies may be younger, but that isn’t what attracts me to a man. I want to be with a guy who isn’t trying to figure himself out, who doesn’t have to work sixty hours a week to prove to some middle manager that he’s worth a promotion. I want someone who wants to hear what I have to say and not just tell me his views. Bill does that. We’re close.”

The men looked stunned. Finally, Jim narrowed his eyes at me. “This isn’t some flighty kind of thing, is it?”

“No, sir, it’s not.” I set my hands on my hips. “I don’t know if anything will ever become of Bill and me. Who knows, maybe we’re just destined to be friends. Maybe he looks at me and just sees a child.

“But I know how I feel when I look at him, and I think it’s worth my time to at least investigate my feelings a bit. I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Mr. Conner ran his fingers through his salt and pepper hair. “Do you mind if I share some of this with Bill?”

“It depends.”

He smiled at my spunk. “On what?”

“On what you intend to do with this information,” I said audaciously.

He laughed. “I think I’m going to use it to remind Bill that he’s still got a lot of living to do.”

“Well, in that case, I think you’d better share as much of this conversation with him as you possibly can!” I quipped.

The men chuckled again. I wandered back to the counter, wondering if I had just messed everything up for good. What if Bill now avoided me like the plague? I hated to think that might happen.

I went home from my shift exhausted, took a short nap, then awoke when the doorbell rang. Hurriedly, I smoothed back my long blonde hair just before I unlocked the door.

Right in front of me stood Bill!

“Becca.”

“Hey,” I said, at a complete loss of words.

He stepped forward, then pulled out the puzzle I’d given him, all those months ago. “May I come in?”

I stepped back and watched him gingerly step into my place. Then, as I closed the door, I realized that he had every reason to be wary; we were both on unfamiliar ground.

But the instant I was alone with him I became aware of his tangy, citrus-scented cologne. He was such a handsome man to me; he reminded me a lot of John Wayne. A large, solid male, with piercing eyes and a slow, steady grin. To think that he might even possibly be interested in me the way that I was interested in him gave me chills.

“Would you like to sit down?” I motioned toward my sofa and loveseat. “Coffee? Tea?”

He shook his head. “You don’t have to serve me here, Becca.”

“I know I don’t have to, but you’re a guest in my home. Of course I’d like to serve you. Now, may I get you anything?”

“Just yourself.”

Never before had Bill tried to bridge the fragile gap that separated us. Now that he was testing the chasm, I felt like I needed to hold on with all my might.

He sat down on the edge of the couch next to me. “I have to tell you, I haven’t worried about so much in years.” He scratched his head absently. “Even back when I owned the hardware store, I can’t recall staying up so many nights.”

I didn’t know whether to apologize or grin like crazy. Instead I tried to act casual, though I probably failed at that, too. “I’m sorry if I’ve caused you a lot of trouble, Bill. That certainly was never my intention.”

“I know that.” His eyes met mine. “You have nothing to worry about. It’s my feelings that have been a little crazy, I’m afraid.”

“What have you been feeling?”

“Like a silly old man, if you want to know the truth.” His eyes crinkled as his grin widened. “I keep waiting for someone to jump out of a corner and call me an old fool.”

My heart warmed. “There’s no one here but me, I promise.”

And?”

“And the last thing in the world I’m going to tell you is that you’re a silly old fool.”

Our sincerity made us both blush. Frantic to find some common ground, I gestured toward the puzzle on the coffee table. “What did you bring?”

“The puzzle you gave me. I thought maybe we could work on it together, as you suggested.”

“Here?”

“Yeah. Where I live . . . where I live, I’m afraid your visit would be a major attraction.”

I forced myself to step back and see this relationship from his perspective. There was a very real possibility that my campaign to become involved with Bill had embarrassed him terribly.

“I don’t know what you’re thinking,” I said softly. “I don’t know how you feel about me.”

“Becca, I fought in a war; I owned my own business; I was married for thirty years. I also have two children and one grandson. I’ve never felt as uncertain as I do right now. I have no idea how I feel.”

None of that sounded good. I’d practically ruined his life! I needed to let him go before I ruined our friendship completely. “Oh. Well, then—”

“But I know that I like being with you. You’re fun and you’ve got a good heart. And . . . that you’re just about the prettiest thing I’ve seen in a long, long while.”

I caught my breath. “Thank you.”

“I don’t understand why you’re not with a younger man,” he continued, his blue gaze warming. “But, right now, at this time, I’m not going to care. Right now, right this minute, I’m going to take what you’re offering and hang on tight. I’m not dead yet.”

His admission, given so stark and raw, made me laugh. That’s why I liked Bill so much. Slowly, I held my hand out to him. “No, you’re not, Bill. Not by a long shot.”

As our fingers touched, I swear I felt a tiny little spark ignite between the two of us. Suddenly, I felt alive and vibrant. When his time-worn, rough fingers caressed my own, the touch felt more personal and intimate than the craziest night of sex, because we were baring our souls, not our clothes. And our souls were far, far more personal.

I served us some wine and we sat at my kitchen table and worked on the puzzle. We talked about his kids and my job. I told him about growing up as an only child. He told me about Brenda, his sweet first wife, and her battle with cancer.

Before we knew it, it was midnight. Bill stood up reluctantly. “I better get going. If I don’t hurry home, someone’s certain to send out a search party for me.”

“All right. Thank you for coming over. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.”

Bill clasped my hand again and squeezed it. “You don’t need to tell me. I already know.”

I walked him to the door, my stomach feeling as fluttery as a high school girl’s. My hand was still entwined in Bill’s, and I felt as romantic and cherished as if he had enfolded me in his arms and told me I was the world to him.

And, then, all of the sudden, he did pull me into his arms. He pressed his lips to mine, and as I tasted his minty breath and reveled in our kiss, his other hand brushed back my hair from my neck. I felt treasured and special, so many feelings I’d been waiting a lifetime to experience.

“That was nice,” he said when we broke apart after a few minutes.

“You sound surprised,” I teased.

“Not surprised. Bemused might be more like it.” He met my steady gaze. “I never thought I’d feel this way about another woman. I thought Brenda was going to be it for me.”

“I never thought I’d ever feel this way about anyone,” I confessed. “I thought I’d never meet a man who I wanted to be so close to.”

“What are we going to do?”

“Whatever you want, Bill. If you don’t want anyone to know about the two of us for a while, I guess I can deal with that.”

“That hardly sounds fair.”

It wasn’t. I wanted to yell out to the whole town of New London that Bill had just wrapped me up in his arms and kissed me senseless. But I also knew we had a lot of obstacles to overcome before we ever did more than work on puzzles and kiss goodnight.

“I waited a long time to tell you my feelings,” I finally said. “I can wait a little longer.”

“My kids, even though they’re not nearby . . . well, I don’t know what they’re going to say.”

I knew his children were older than me. “Maybe you won’t have to tell them a thing for a while,” I suggested softly.

Bill looked skeptical. “I’ll think about it. And Becca?”

“Yes?”

“I had a great time tonight.”

“So did I.”

I softly closed the door and practically waltzed into my bedroom. Bill had actually paid me a visit tonight—and kissed me passionately! Wonders never ceased.

The next few days were chaotic and interesting, to say the least. I was on the receiving end of more than a few curious glances and whispered comments.

Bill did come into the diner, but he blushed when we so much as exchanged glances, so I kept my distance. As time progressed I began to feel I’d embellished our night to outlandish proportions. Maybe I had just thought he cared more for me than he actually did.

Maybe I had just imagined that he had been moved by that kiss. I made myself face the almost certain truth: Bill had probably looked at himself in the light of day and had decided that nothing was worth the trouble I’d bring into his life.

I resolved to keep a sunny smile on my face, but it was hard because I felt like crying. What was I going to do without him?

And then, finally, after four days of not knowing what to do, Bill stopped by during a slow period at work. His eyes were twinkling and he was smiling.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I’ve been talking to my son and daughter about you. And Brenda over at the cemetery.”

I steeled myself for his rejection. “Oh.”

“I told my kids that I’ve done everything that was expected of me. Now I want to do something for me.” He shrugged. “I told them that at my age, I thought I had that right.”

I still wasn’t really following him. “Am I . . . that something?”

“You definitely are,” he retorted with a chuckle. “And, like a hen at a farm, I went and talked about you to my buddies, as well.”

“No wonder I’ve been getting such strange looks!”

“I don’t think they were strange looks, because my buddies told me the same exact thing that my kids did.”

“And what was that?”

“To follow my heart. Again.”

Hope swept through me. “Really?”

He chuckled. “Really. I’m sorry I’ve been such a fool. I should have done this in the first place, without ever asking my kids or my friends for permission.”

“Done what?”

“This.” He pulled me close to him, right there in the middle of my diner. “And this,” he murmured, right before he kissed me.

“And this,” he finally said as he lifted his lips from mine. “I like you a lot, Becca. Will you be my girl?”

Tears came to my eyes. “There isn’t anything I’d rather be,” I murmured. “I’d love to be your girl. Today and always.”

And that is how I fell in love with a man old enough to be my grandfather. And just in case you’re wondering what happened to us, we just celebrated our first anniversary last night. Things between Bill and I are just absolutely wonderful.

Thank goodness we both were brave enough to share our feelings one day, so long ago. Thank goodness we looked in our hearts to find out what we had in common . . . rather than focus on our dates of birth.

Make Him Fall For You In 10 Easy Steps

Couple on steps in rain, man carrying young woman, eyes closed

Sometimes it can be difficult to find that perfect man you’ve always wanted to share your life with. If you’re in love with a man and you want him to have the same feelings, there are things you can do to increase his fascination for you. You should not change your personality just to make a guy you’re attracted to feel comfortable. If you really want to make him fall head over heels, you must try to understand him and his way of being, and use that to your advantage. But keep in mind that the feeling must be mutual. How to make your love life better without getting hurt? These 10 strategies can help.

1. Be attractive

When you’re in the company of the man you love, dress attractive so that you can grab his attention. If you see him smiling or not taking his eyes off of you, you have an advantage. If he sees those around admiring you, it will make him want you even more. Men can be very competitive when it comes to women. Try to make yourself noticed and he will be all yours.

2. Appreciate and respect him

Men are looking for appreciation and respect. When he organizes something special – be it something small or big – let him know that you notice and greatly admire him for his effort. If he sees that his gestures make you happy, he will never stop adoring you and you’ll have everything you ever wanted – love in marriage and in a relationship.

3. Make eye contact

Passionate eye contact can make people fall in love in a second. When you’re talking with him, gaze into his eyes; he’ll know that he caught your attention. It will flatter him for sure and he will desire you with all his being.

4. Soft touches

Girl sitting on boyfriends lap.

If there’s a way to make a man fall in love with you, this is it! Men can’t resist a woman’s soft touch. When you are with him, make simple gestures like hold his hand, hug, or just flip your hand through his hair; let your soft touch persist for a moment and he’ll inevitably be wowed by you. A warm touch can be extremely exciting for the man you love, and you’ll spark a dreamy attraction in no time.

5. Don’t let him see you’re in love

Men love to divide and conquer. They need some time to admit their feelings, but when they do, there’s no way of going back. To make someone fall for you, let them know that you’re attracted to them; but don’t become too clingy – men hate persistent women. Always make him feel uncertain about how serious you are, and let him make the first step into a real relationship.

6. Don’t approve him all the time

A perfect relationship is based on compatibility; this doesn’t mean that you have to accept everything he does or says. Sometimes, a petty disagreement can make him see your strong personality and respect your point of view. Don’t let common relationship problems others have get in the way of your happiness.

7. Have intellectual conversations

Couple on Yacht

Flirty discussions are cute and delightful, and he will adore the fact that he can make you blush. On your romantic dates, connect with him on an intellectual level. Talk with him about career opportunities, aspirations and ambitions, and let him taste the feeling of sheer happiness. Exploring intimacy in relationships is also fundamental to building a strong, unbreakable bond.

8. Showcase your talents

If you want to make a man fall in love with you, surprise him! He certainly likes you for who you are; but to completely impress him, let him know that you have many hidden talents waiting to be discovered. Amaze him with things you like to do – be it dancing, cooking, singing, or any other foolish things you’ve never showed anyone. Give him an opportunity to discover the real you.

9. Be charming

Men can’t resist a charming smile. Be warm, loving and sweet when you’re around him, and he’ll end up adoring you. If you want to win a man over, blush when he compliments you or flirt discreetly by flipping your hair and smiling. If he is attracted to you, he will want to wow you with his sense of humor and epic stories. Don’t forget about communication in relationships; this is key if you want him to commit and be happy.

10. Don’t be offensive

Men don’t like arrogant, proud women. They certainly love a woman who can have an opinion, but if she wants to exude her arrogance and superiority, for sure he’ll refuse to fall in love with her.

Are you ready for a long-lasting relationship? Are you ready for love and marriage? Then you should put yourself out there. Make him fall head over heels with the tips we’ve mentioned above, and you have the highest chances of attaining genuine happiness.

By Sylvia Smith at Never Liked It Anyway

(From Never Liked It Anyway, the number one destination for all things break-ups and bounce-back! It’s the place to buy, sell and tell all things ex! Sell your breakup baggage, tell your story and join the community of rock stars bouncing back better than ever! )

Starstruck Romance

As her Second Acts Dating Service truly takes off, Cynthia Amas discovers that in the heady world of high-end Hollywood romance, with success comes complexity. In this wildly seductive romp through the lush canyons and lavish neighborhoods of Los Angeles, the line between business and pleasure quickly blurs in a dizzying rush of sex and celebrity.

Just as our heroine’s uncanny genius for matching up her growing roster of exclusive love seekers continues to deepen, her own love life reaches a fever pitch.

Things get complicated. And funny. And excruciatingly sensual.

Read More

Reviews:

From Kirkus: An intrepid young matchmaker in Hollywood sparks chemistry with an old flame, an ex-flame and an A-list actor, all while finding love for her clients in this engaging romance. Cynthia Amas has no trouble juggling her new dating service and a slew of fresh clients from among the Hollywood elite. Her best friend, the outspoken Lolita, has her hands full running a dog-grooming business catering to the stars and managing her three dogs of varying sizes and temperaments, who bring her juicy gossip (at least she hears them talking!) Read More

News

Love, Lies & Dating: Will This Relationship Go Up in Smoke?

Dear Second Acts;
I have been seeing a gorgeous guy for a while. He’s a trial lawyer and a good one. He is passionate about his work and about me. There’s really just one problem, but it’s a big, fat, stinky one. He smokes cigars. Now I know there are lots of women who like cigars, or at least pretend to. I know they’re supposed to make a man look powerful and sexy and all that, but I find them unbelievably disgusting. Read More

7 Reasons Some Women Think They Won’t Find Love

Sad girl is holding heart symbol by her finger

No one should ever give up on finding love, it doesn’t matter if you are sixteen or one hundred and sixteen there is still the possibility of finding love and embracing it. Sadly, many women have been hurt and are afraid of falling in love again; they may have been searching for love with no success and have now reached the conclusion that they will never find lasting love again, these are the reasons why this can occur:

1. Hurt

When you are in a relationship you put your all into it and expect it to last forever. If the romance in marriage or in a relationship fails you are left disenchanted and emotionally hurt. You may well blame yourself for the failure of the relationship and even feel that you do not deserve to find love again. All of these factors are simply a way of dealing with the failure of the relationship and the hurt which goes with it. By deciding you will never find lasting love, you are protecting yourself from the hurt of a future failed relationship.

2. The Real Issue

In fact, falling in love is easy, what really worries the women who think they will never find love again is the idea of falling in love with the wrong man, again. Unfortunately they do not know of any other way to fall in love or even meet men; instead of trying an alternative solution they simply give up on the concept of love in marriage.

3. Awareness

Couples Dancing And Drinking At Evening Party

Sometimes a relationship ends because your partner has changed and they have moved on; other times it is simply because you were an incompatible match. It is often the case that women are attracted to the classic bad boy and this kind of relationship is not good for them. However, it is natural to repeat the cycle and you keep having failed relationships because you always go for the same type of guy. This can lead anyone to giving up on love. The end of a relationship is a perfect opportunity to take stock of yourself, your personality, your likes and dislikes and, most importantly, what you want and need from a relationship. You will then be able to work out the right type of man for you and chase the right bloke.

4. The Lesson

Many women feel that they are failures after their relationship has broken down, particularly if it was a long term one. However, the lesson to learn is not that other women are more attractive and worthy. It is better to realize that something was wrong with the bond and welcome some relationship advice; review your past relationships and you will realize there are one or two factors which are responsible for the breakdown of all these relationships. If these factors relate to you and the way you deal with a relationship then you can do something about it!

5. Giving Up

It is easy to try a new relationship and then give up, bemoaning the fact that you will never have a lasting relationship again. However, it is normal and helpful to sample different relationships and learn what works for you. You will never have the same relationship which you had with your old partner, but you can have a better one! The trick is to keep trying; no matter how many times you fail you will learn something each time and, eventually, find the right one to stand up for unforeseen relationship problems and work with you to fix them.

6. Sending Out a Message

If you have given up on men you will, unknowingly, send a message out which tells men to stay away. This means the majority of men will do that, the only ones who will approach are those who see you as a challenge; a way to build their ego. These men are after the chase and not love and marriage; it provides another opportunity to engage in the wrong relationship and believe you will never find love.

7. Believing they don’t want to love again

Couple fun in the city

Many women give up on love because they think they do not need it and will never find it again. This is actually a reaction to the break-up and not something that will last long term. At some point you will want to love again and you must believe that this is a possibility. Instead of believing it is not possible you should look to how you can make it better next time.

Women don’t believe in long-lasting love because they don’t want to get hurt. They’re afraid to open up. Truth be told, if there’s communication in relationships, we can all be happy. We just have to dare and take that leap of faith.

(From Never Liked It Anyway, the number one destination for all things break-ups and bounce-back! It’s the place to buy, sell and tell all things ex! Sell your breakup baggage, tell your story and join the community of rock stars bouncing back better than ever! )

It’s Me Or Your Junk—One of Us Has Got To Go!

Woman sitting on sofa surrounded by clothes.

“No! Don’t you dare take one step into this house with that—that thing!” I screeched—and after ten years of marriage to Jared, I could really screech.

“But, hon, this time I think I’ve found something—a real antique!”

I tried not to roll my eyes. I didn’t want to mention for the tenth time that the house itself needed renovations, not more junk. It would just make me sound like a nagging spouse again. I didn’t like what I was turning into when I spent time with my husband.

Today he was trying to sneak past me with some kind of “antique”, as he called his junk. This one was leaking some kind of oil and he hadn’t even bothered to wipe off the cobwebs before he got it into the car. I could actually hear my teeth grinding.

“Calm down, Sandra,” my mother would say. “In every good marriage, you have to learn to pick your battles.”

She was right, but this was one battle that I found myself battling more and more.  We had so much stuff in our two-car garage that we hadn’t been able to park even one car in there for five years now.

And it wasn’t just the normal stuff that a family accumulates, either, like bikes and skis. There were things Jared had brought home from garage and auction sales. He also picked up any old piece of furniture that his buddies wanted to take to the dump, but somehow Jared couldn’t bear to see them destroyed, so they inevitably ended up in our house.

We now had five complete sets of living room furniture cramped in the basement, the garage, and the attic. I refused to let him replace our nice set that I’d brought a few years earlier. If I didn’t watch him like a hawk he would take our good stuff to an auction house and use the money to buy more junk.

I kind of felt like that little Dutch boy who had to hold back all the water in the dam by himself. Jared just didn’t seem to realize that our home was fast becoming a junk store. Except that in junk stores at least some of the stuff disappeared out the door occasionally.

“Sandy, it’s my only hobby,” he said. “It’s not like I spend thousands of dollars on this. Look at Mark. He likes to golf, which wouldn’t be so bad, but he likes to golf on courses all around the world.”

Mark and Brenna were our neighbors. They’d worked hard all their lives and now had enough money to retire in style.

“All right, then. Why don’t you save your hobby for when we retire?” I asked.

“One day you’ll be sorry you’re not more supportive, Sandy. One day I’ll bring something home that will be worth a lot of money!”

“In my dreams.”

Most of our arguments ended with me trying to get away from Jared and his “hobby” for awhile. I’d go up to our room and read or I’d take my new car—the first car I’d ever owned—out for a long drive in the country.

I was sure that my sweet husband had crossed the line into mental illness. This wasn’t just a case of a wife not being able to put up with her husband’s junk. I couldn’t even walk through the hallways without having to dodge things laying around. There was just no other place to put them. Couldn’t he see what was happening to us?

Some people had a rule that when they brought one more thing into their home, something else would have to go. But Jared couldn’t bear to part with anything once he got it home. I’d overheard his friends offer him good money for some of the stuff, but he’d refused.

Still, I tried to understand. This was obviously something he felt strongly about—or something he couldn’t control. But I knew that he’d gone too far the day he started piling old shelving up in the corner of our bedroom.

“Jared, what are you doing? that stuff is dirty, and who knows how many insects are in that old wood? I don’t want it in our bedroom!”

He gave me a look that meant he wasn’t listening to me. His mind was on the next sale, the next “bargain”.

It didn’t stop there. The next day when I came home from work, half our bedroom was filled with old lumber and light fixtures that he’d gotten from a demolition team that had been tearing down an old office building.

“Jared, I can’t sleep in here with this mess! Please, get rid of it.”

“It’s only temporary, Sandy, just until I can bring in that used tool shed I bought from Hal. Then I can put all this lumber in there.”

“Jared, please listen to me. This is not normal. No one lives with this—this dirty old junk in their bedroom. Nobody except us.”

garage of an abandoned house

But he either wouldn’t listen or he didn’t know how. For the first time since all this had started, I was seriously considering leaving him. The thought of that nearly broke my heart, but when was he going to see reason? I was at my wit’s end.

I would have asked his mother for advice, but that poor woman was in a world of her own. Jared was devoted to her, calling and visiting her every other day. I’d learned the truth about Millie about a year into our marriage: she was an alcoholic. She could barely live on her own in her small house. She wouldn’t be any help to me in understanding her son and his bizarre behavior. Jared’s dad had died many years ago, when he was about fifteen. The two of them had been alone since then.

My heart went out to my husband. I sat on our bed staring out at the old bricks and boards stacked up around our bed and cried. How could something so good have gone so wrong?

When I met Jared, he was a sweet and vulnerable man. His jock friends would tease him constantly about his devotion to his mom and his nerdy ways. But when we started going out, he was considerate and polite, never seeming to get angry about anything. I thought he was just too good to be true.

At that time I thought it was kind of sweet that he saved things, like his leather jacket from his eight grade school basketball team. It was just something that men did, I thought. They seemed to have a need to hang onto things that women would typically consider junk.

I was falling in love with him. When he asked me to marry him, the world just took on a fairy tale quality. All these good things just couldn’t be happening to me! I was the one who wasn’t supposed to make anything out of my life. I had an older brother and sister who were very successful professionals. As for me, I’d barely passed high school and had to work hard for everything in life.

But meeting Jared—that was like bringing magic into my life. He treated me like I was the most special person in the world. We loved each other so much in those early days. We didn’t need anyone. We’d take long walks and spend the whole day talking, stopping for a quiet picnic lunch and laughing over the antics of the ducks on the nearby lake.

As for his mom, she was polite to me but didn’t seem to be all there. Jared looked out for her, always asking if she remembered to take her medication, if she’d eaten. It was only later that I learned he knew she was an alcoholic and wouldn’t eat for days at a time unless he reminded her. He wasn’t honest with me in those days. He would only say that his mom had been sick for years, but he was vague about what sort of sickness it was.

I did find it strange that neither Jared nor his mom seemed to have a picture of his father anywhere. They never talked about him, either. Whenever I asked about what he was like, I’d get the same blank stare from them both.

Still, Jared was the man of my dreams. I knew from the start that he liked to collect things. He had almost every toy he’d ever owned—and in mint condition, too.

When we got married, I surprised him by having a special cabinet built to hold all of his toys. When he saw it, he was elated.

“Sandy, you don’t know how much this means to me,” he’d said. “Thank you, honey. I knew from the moment we met that you were the one for me.”

It was quite a collection, too. Not only did he have his own toys in it, but there were some of his father’s toys, too. Jared admitted that much to me, although I had already guessed that the old cast iron piggy banks, wind-up toys, and a small teddy bear were much older than Jared. But that was about the only thing he’d ever said about his dad to me.

At first, I was the envy of my friends. Imagine having a man so sweet that he still had his teddy bear! They envied me that I had the nicest guy in our little circle.

But I didn’t know that his innocent-looking hobby was the start of something that would tear us apart. At first, he wanted to add to his toy collection. He’d buy books on the history of some of the toys. I was proud that he had a hobby that he loved. Some of my friends’ husbands spent their money on beer and gambling, but not my Jared.

But the toy collection became an obsession. Instead of spending time with me, he spent more and more time poring over his books on toys. Then it gradually spilled over into other things; he went to shows and conferences, becoming interested in comic books, baseball cards, you name it.

We began arguing about the cost of his hobby. He told me that instead of buying new clothes for himself, he’d rather spent it on buying his valued collectibles.

There were no more long picnics by the lake. There was very little time together at all.

“Sandy, why don’t you and Jared come over to our place for supper on Saturday night?” Brenna would ask.

But I knew it wouldn’t do any good. Jared’s life was equally divided between work and his hobby. He didn’t spend any time with me anymore. We just coexisted, with me watching television or reading and Jared taking inventory of his growing collection. Every weekend was taken up with antique and collector shows and sales.

Someone suggested that I try to get involved in his hobby, too. I would have, but I suspected that this wasn’t just a pastime for Jared; it was a real obsession. I didn’t want to contribute to that, but to wean him away from it.

But it didn’t work. I was spending more time on my own. After all, by then we’d been married for several years. I couldn’t expect the first heady feelings of romance to last forever. Married people had separate hobbies and interests, after all.

But we weren’t spending any time together at all. At that time I decided to have a talk with his mom, even though I doubted it would help.

It was an eerie feeling, talking to Millie. She was polite, but I could have been anyone who’d just dropped by her place instead of her only daughter-in-law. She was forgetting things lately. Jared was worried about her and was spending more time with her when he wasn’t busy with his collections. I didn’t begrudge him the time he spent with his mom. After all, she needed him, and it had been one of the things that had made me fall in love with him in the first place.

Millie didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know. She did talk a little about Jared’s dad, though. “Jared’s a good boy. His father knows that, deep down.”

I frowned. She was talking about her dead husband as though he was still alive. I was beginning to worry about her. I knew that Jared came to her place each evening to turn off the breaker switch to her stove so that she wouldn’t get up at night and try to cook something. Several times he’d walked in and found something burning on the stove.

Pretty soon Jared and I would have to talk. Should we bring her to live with us? If we did we’d have to get rid of some of his junk to make room for her and make renovations. Truthfully, I couldn’t see her living alone for much longer. The good thing was that Millie wasn’t drinking so much nowadays. Maybe she was even forgetting to do that.

In any case, I knew I was alone with my problem. In fact, his mother’s condition only made Jared worse. I hardly ever saw him now. He spent much of his time with Millie, and the rest of the time he was furiously collecting everything that he thought might be valuable in the future. From toys he’d jumped to furniture to glassware to postcards, all in the space of a few months.

But it was all still collectible items, things that other people considered to be valuable. The day he started to stack newspapers on the kitchen table, I knew that there was something really wrong.

“Sandy, these will be worth something. If we can just keep saving—”

“Jared, I’ve heard that before. We just can’t save everything for thirty years or so until it’s valuable! What do you think this house is? A museum? We have to live here, too.”

Later that week I noticed a box full of used paper cups in the hallway. This time I didn’t even bother to confront him about it.

But the old, molding lumber in our bedroom—that was the final straw.

“Jared, I want us to go for counseling. We need to talk about this obsession of yours. And we need to talk about your mom, too.”

“What about my mom, Sandy?”

“Jared, can’t you see that she’s a danger to herself living on her own?”

“No counseling, Sandy, please. We can sort out our differences by ourselves.”

“No, we can’t. You don’t seem to think you have a problem.”

“No counseling,” he repeated. “A shrink would only bring up bad memories, anyway.”

“What bad memories?” I asked, but by this time Jared had stopped talking to me.

I didn’t know where else to turn. What do you do when there’s a serious problem in your marriage and your spouse refuses to acknowledge it? How were we going to start to make it right?”

I had no choice. One day, when Jared was at work, I wrote a note and left it on his pillow. By this time I had to tiptoe over old boards with rusty nails sticking out just to get to his side of the bed. I had to leave, if only to shock him into seeing that we were in crisis.

My worst fear was that he wouldn’t even know that I was gone. I spent that first night at a hotel. I didn’t want to stay with friends and admit that my marriage was crumbling, especially when they all thought I had the ideal husband. I thought of all the times I’d been so happy that my husband didn’t fool around our stay out to all hours with his buddies. I’d thought our marriage was as solid as granite.

The second day I found myself a small bachelor apartment near my work. I called Jared to tell him that I was okay and where I was staying, but I had to leave the message on the answering machine. I realized that if I went through with the divorce, it would no longer be my business to know where my husband was.

I was abandoning him when he needed me most. But the thing was, he didn’t see that he needed my help—or anyone else’s.

I didn’t know what to do about Millie. Jared and I had both looked after her. She didn’t have anyone else in the world. Did I continue to check up on her, or would he think that I no longer had the right to do that? I didn’t know what to do.

Millie hardly ever answered her phone anymore. A few years ago we had put our number on her speed dial so it would be easier for her to call us if she needed anything. I phoned several times, but she didn’t answer. I considered going over there and giving her my new number, but I thought it was likely that Jared hadn’t told her that we’d split up.

It took a long time for me to get into a new pattern of living. Most days my mind was more on Jared than it was on work. Then I seemed to cross a line where I didn’t want to think of him at all, concentrating instead on work.

But my friends at the office knew that something was wrong. I confided in a couple of them that I’d left my husband. They took me under their wing, inviting me out after work and on weekends, which was the worst time for me. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

I finally got up the courage to go and talk to Jared a few months later. There were things I wanted to know if I should go ahead and press for divorce. Surely any judge would clearly see that we had irreconcilable differences.

“Jared? Jared, are you here?” I called out. The front door was open so I’d gone in.

What I saw nearly knocked me to the floor.

The house was spotless. There was no junk around anywhere.

I must be dreaming, I thought. I went into the kitchen and saw a man working on the kitchen counter, laying down new Arborite—something I’d been begging Jared to do for years.

“Hello,” I greeted the contractor.

Kitchen

He turned and smiled at me. “Hello. You must be looking for Jared. He should be right back. He said he had to take some more things to the dump.”

To the dump?” I repeated, laughing. Maybe I’d walked into the wrong house!

I went to the living room to wait, still amazed that Jared had hired someone to redo the kitchen. What was going on here?

My curiosity got the better of me. I went upstairs. The first thing I noticed was that there was no more junk blocking the way. Jared had a habit of even putting stuff on the stairs. At first he would set things down on the very edge, but soon there would be hardly enough space to put your feet. Now the stairs were clear.

The upstairs hallway was empty, too. I crossed my fingers and sighed as I went to our bedroom, now Jared’s bedroom.

The whole room had been redone. It was beautiful. I’d shared my dreams for this room a few years ago with Jared. I wanted soft, relaxing colors, and here they were. There was a sage green carpet, off-white gauzy curtains, a twig chair in one corner. And a new bed! My hands went over my mouth in shock.

What had gotten into my husband? Or was this his way of starting a new life without me?

“Do you like it?”

I whirled around to see Jared standing in the doorway.

“Troy told me you were here. So what do you think?”

I stared at him, wanting to know if there was hope for us. “Jared, what’s going on?”

There was stress in his face, stress that hadn’t been there a few months ago. Had I caused all that?

“The day you left me was the worst day of my life, Sandy,” he said softly.

The guilt rushed in. I couldn’t talk right then. He looked at me for a long moment. “It wasn’t the best night for me, either,” he said. “That night, Mom set fire to her kitchen.”

Fire raging in domestic kitchen at night

“Oh, Jared, no! Why didn’t you call me?” But then I remembered that he didn’t know where I’d gone. I didn’t call to tell him for a couple of days.

“I didn’t go to see her that night.” He didn’t have to tell me that it was because of me. “The police called me. There had been a fire.”

“How is she?”

“She was fine. She was trying to cook dinner for all of us. For some reason she thought we were going to her place for dinner. She left a pot on the stove and it boiled over and started the fire. When I got there, I couldn’t find her, Sandy. I couldn’t find her. There were cops and firefighters all over the place. Finally, a neighbor approached me. Mom had gone over there as soon as she saw all the smoke.”

“Thank God,” I said, letting out the breath I’d been holding in.

“Yes, thank God.”

“So what about the house . . . destroyed?”

“The kitchen was gutted. I decided it was as good a time as any for Mom to try out a nursing home. I found a private place for her where she has some independence, but she has supervision, too.”

“Jared, I’m sorry. So sorry. For everything.”

“I’ve had time to think since you’ve been gone, Sandy. I never really thanked you for what you’ve been doing for Mom over the years. I thought I was the one who looked after her all by myself. But I was wrong.”

“I’m just sorry that this had to happen, Jared.”

“No, don’t apologize. There’s more—much more. Sandy, remember that I was always telling you that one day one of the things I brought home would make us rich? Well, it happened.”

“It . . . did?” That explained the renovations.

“Do you remember my toy collection, especially the older toys?”

I nodded. How could I forget? When we were first married, I’d been proud of Jared’s collection—until all the craziness started.

“I hit pay dirt. Almost every one of my dad’s old toys was worth a lot of money. He had those old piggy banks, remember? And all those tin toys, some from his own father. I even had a couple of dolls from his mother. But it was the teddy bear. Remember that bear? It was worth the most.”

I looked around. I could hardly believe it. Even so, I wondered how Jared could bring himself to part with his treasured toys.

“But you loved those toys, Jared. It was the only thing you had to remember your father by.”

His face twisted in a bitter smile. “Oh, no, Sandy. You’re wrong about that. I have memories from my father. Hateful memories. Do you know what drove Mom to booze? It was him. He beat her, and when she couldn’t prevent it, he beat me, too.”

He lifted his shirt. There was an old scar on his ribs. I remembered when I’d asked him about it years ago he’d said it was a childhood injury.

“This is where he burned me, when I couldn’t recite my tables fast enough,” he said quietly, pulling down his shirt again. “That’s the truth about that.”

“Oh, Jared.” The tears were coming fast and furious. I couldn’t help it.

“There’s more, but it doesn’t matter. Mom’s got a lot more scars than me. Every day with that man was a day of terror. Thank God he left us when I was about fourteen.”

“He left? Then he might still be alive?”

“If the booze hasn’t got him by now. I don’t care, Sandy. He’s out of our lives.”

“Jared, why didn’t you ever tell me any of this before?”

“I didn’t figure you’d understand. When we started dating, I could see that you came from a nice family. You lived in a good neighborhood and your parents cared about you. I envied you, Sandy.”

I could hardly take this all in. There was so much about my husband that I didn’t know. No wonder he couldn’t talk to me about his past! And no wonder he had such a bond with his mother. The two of them had survived that misery together.

Jared told me that most of the money from his father’s toy collection went to pay for his mother’s care.

“Then how did you pay for all this?” I asked.

“We had saved for it, remember? You forgot about the account you started years ago. Then each month I’d been putting some cash aside, adding to it. It’s grown quite a lot over time.”

“But, Jared, why now? I mean, I’d left you.”

“I know, Sandy. But I wanted to get you back.”

“Jared, you didn’t have to do this to get me back. What really impressed me was the fact that all the junk is gone! How did you part with it?”

“I thought about what you’d said. Here I was, sitting alone in a house full of junk. It wasn’t an investment, it was just trash. I knew that I’d either have to get a handle on this obsession or I’d lose you for good. And I don’t want to lose you, Sandy.”

He came to me and gave me a hug. It felt so good. We just held each other tightly for a long time. I missed his scent, the way he felt in my arms. I’d missed him with my whole heart.

“The bed is empty now,” he whispered softly.

“I can see that.”

“Lots of room for . . . whatever you might have in mind.”

“Oh, I have a lot on my mind right now,” I told him.

Just then we felt another presence in the room. We looked around and saw the contractor standing in the doorway.

“I—er, just wanted to tell you that you had a phone call, Jared,” Troy said. “Some lady from the nursing home? She says to get over there right away.”

Jared and I stared at each other. Something must have happened to his mom!

“I’ll go, Sandy. You stay here.”

“Are you kidding? I’m going, too.”

It was a good thing there were no cops around, because we must have broken every speeding record getting to the home. As Jared pulled up in front I noticed that it was a very nice place. I told myself that nothing bad could happen to her in a place like that.

“I’m Jared Spencer. Someone called about my mother,” Jared told the woman at the front desk.

The receptionist said she’d page the nurse in charge. It seemed like forever until a petite woman in a uniform came out to us.

“Let’s talk in here, Mr. and Mrs. Spencer,” she said, leading us to a quiet room.

I could tell that Jared was just barely keeping control. I knew he wanted to shake the truth out of that nurse. What had happened to his mother?

“Mr. Spencer, you mother is missing,” she began.

Missing? What are you talking about?”

“She’s missing. We think she’s been gone for a couple of hours.”

“A couple of hours! Why didn’t you call me before?”

“We did, but no one answered,” the woman explained.

“I know what happened, Jared,” I said. “Troy was working on the kitchen counter, there was a lot of noise. He probably didn’t hear the phone ringing at first.”

Jared turned to the nurse. “That doesn’t matter now. Where’s my mother?”

“The police are out searching for her. Do you know where she might have gone?”

“Maybe to the old house. She might have gone there. I was having it fixed after the fire so we could sell it.”

He took me by the arm. “Come on, Sandy. I have a feeling she might have tried to get back there.”

We drove to the old house. Along the way was the river. I didn’t want to look down as we drove over the bridge. I didn’t want to think of my mother-in-law trying to cross the bridge on her own—or worse still, coming to the riverbank and trying to wade across. From what Jared was saying, she was no longer thinking clearly anymore. But when we got to Millie’s old house, there was no one there.

We went inside. The workers were almost done with the repairs to the kitchen. There was no sign of the fire anymore. We walked through the rooms, thinking that somehow she might have climbed in through a window and was hiding somewhere.

It broke my heart to think of her yearning for her old home. I knew that Jared had to put her in some kind of home, especially after I’d left him. Who would have looked after her when he was at work? She was obviously a danger to herself when she was alone.

I made a vow then. If we found her I would find a way to work this out with Jared. I didn’t want to think of her living among strangers all day long. I could cut back on my hours at work so that she could come live with us.

I didn’t know how it was all going to work out. But judging by the look on Jared’s face as he searched the house, I knew I had to try something. We were a family, the three of us.

“Honey, we’ll find her. We will,” I assured him, drawing him into my arms. I could feel his back convulse with sobs. He really loved his mother. “And when we find her, I want to bring her home with us. What would you say, having both your favorite women under the same roof?”

He nodded, but I could tell that his mind was on finding her.

“Let’s call the police. Maybe we could help in their search,” I told him.

The hardest thing to face was the night. The police kept looking on city streets then, but they didn’t look in wooded areas until dawn, when it was lighter out. We had a very long, sleepless night.

“We wanted to know how this happened. How, when she was supposed to be in a secure place, could she just walk away without anyone knowing?

“It happens,” the nursing home director told me. “Your mother-in-law didn’t look sick; she didn’t look like she had dementia. We suspect that she just walked up to a visitor and left at the same time. The other person likely had no idea that she was one of our patients.”

It seemed incredible to me that it could happen. Another family might be thinking of a lawsuit, but we just wanted Mom back. I knew that my husband wouldn’t eat or sleep until she was found.

The next day, Jared opened up to me. He told me that he loved me, and he held me so tight I wondered if I’d have bruises afterward. But I’d been waiting for this moment all of our married lives. We were close again.

“I can’t lose you again, Sandy. When we find Mom, I want to hire a companion for her. I’ll build an apartment onto the house—there’s still enough money for that. And Sandy, I want you to follow your dream, the one you’ve been holding inside ever since I met you, and even before.”

“My dream? You’re not talking about that little design business I wanted once?”

“Yes. Why not? Haven’t we got proof, right here and now, that life is too short to pack away for dreams?”

“But I don’t even know if I could do that now.”

“Just think about it, honey,” he insisted.

“All right. I’ll think about it later. After we bring Mom home.”

We talked far into the night. Neither of us could sleep, and we wanted to be right by the phone in case the police called to say they’d found her. Jared told me that he’d started counseling right after I’d left. The counselor told him that his junk addiction had something to do with his father’s abuse. It was like he hadn’t been able to let go either of his father or of the “priceless treasures” that he’d started to hoard.

Jared himself wasn’t sure how it all blended together, but he was finding that the more junk he threw away, the freer he felt. He found he could think about his father now without all the terrible emotions.

“It’s like I feel numb, almost like all of that happened to someone else. But it happened to me. I have the scars to prove it, both physical scars and emotional. But now I know that my obsession was driving you away, Sandy, and I don’t ever want to do that again. You’re the best thing in my life.”

He told me that he realized how much it must have hurt me, someone who loved interior design, to see my house go from a lovely place to a makeshift junkyard.

“I think I’m ready to be a good husband now. But you’ll have to help me. The only role model I had for a husband wasn’t the greatest,” he said.

“I’ll give you all the time you need, babe,” I said, smiling and holding his hand tightly.

Suddenly, the phone rang. I waited while Jared spoke to the police. His face lit up.

“They found her! Sandy—they found her!”

We rushed to the hospital where they’d taken my mother-in-law. I still held Jared’s hand on the drive there and when we rushed to the emergency entrance. We found her laying on one of the curtained beds.

“Mom!” Jared cried as he hugged her.

“She’s broken her hip,” the doctor told me. “We’re just calling the surgeon now to repair it. We’ll give you a few moments alone.”

Millie looked confused and pale, but other than her broken hip, she seemed to be all right. I was right about my premonition on the river: The police had found her trying to cross it. She’d fallen down the bank and was half in and half out of the water. No one knew how long she’d been there, but thank God they’d found her.

Jared blamed himself for putting her in the home; I blamed myself for not being there for him. In the end, we both agreed blame was useless. We brought her home, where she recovered from her hip surgery. When she was well enough we hired a part-time companion for her as a respite to me while I worked on my new home business of interior design. That summer she was well enough to travel, so we rented a beach cottage and had the best time of our lives.

She lived for a year and a half after her fall by the river. We had some good times, the three of us. I comforted Jared at her funeral, and by that time Millie and I had grown so close that he needed to comfort me, too.

I think about the time I left him and I wonder what would have happened if I’d gone through with the divorce. Not having Jared in my life would have been the biggest mistake I’d ever made. But these days we’re joyfully talking about growing old together.

I’m certainly looking forward to it.

3 Stories from Losing It For Love: TruLove Collection

Always there to motivate each othrer

All of us long for true love. Unfortunately, however, some of us despair of ever finding it. Often it’s because we live with a gripping sense of defeat brought on by some unwanted feature. Usually our nemesis is our weight, although sometimes it’s a particular part of our body, like a nose or a chin that is undeniably out of proportion to the rest of our face.

There are more than enough thoughtless or shallow people in the world who may insist upon defining us by our single most troubling physical feature. We’re fat, we’re ugly, we’re not sexy.

Here are three stories from Losing It For Love:

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