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'Do you have romantic feelings for me, yes or no?'

'Do you have romantic feelings for me, yes or no?'
He looked at me and said, "You make me so happy… You're my favorite." (Veronica Grech / For The Times)

I was walking into the Echoplex in Echo Park when it hit me: This could be the night. This could be the night when I finally kissed my best friend. We had been hanging out together for nine months — inseparable — and tonight we were meeting at one of my favorite parties in L.A., Soul Slam: Prince & Michael Jackson.

As much as Leon and I were “just friends,” I had undeniably fallen in love with him. And as far as I was concerned, there was no better way to move things from friends to romance than sweating on the dance floor in between “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.”

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There he was, just as excited to see me as I was to see him. He grabbed my hand and we went straight to the dance floor. And instantly we were having the best time. Deep in each other’s arms, we were the closest we had ever been. I felt like I knew him in a way that I knew no one else, and he was smiling ear to ear. So I asked him, "What are you smiling about?" He looked at me and said, "You make me so happy… You're my favorite."

I smiled back and said, “And you are mine.”

And there it was.

So the shaman was right.

She wasn’t your typical shaman — she was young, hip and she hugged you like you were her best friend. I scheduled my appointment with Mona months in advance, but my appointment fell just days after I impulsively told Leon that I was falling in love with him. And according to Mona, he was in love with me too.

Not just in love with me, he was head over heels. I had changed his life and his understanding of love. She told me he was a soul mate. And the only thing I had to do to ensure this great love of mine was to … stay the course.

Stay the course?

Those three words possibly might be the worst thing you can tell a woman who’s been single for eight very long years. Eight years of online dating, one-night stands and broken promises.

But in the eight years of putting in the work, of reading “Getting to ‘I Do’: The Secret to Doing Relationships Right!” and “Calling in ‘The One’: 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life,” I hadn’t felt anything close to the butterflies, the constant laughter and the ease that I felt when I was with him.

And I was willing to do whatever I needed to make sure this feeling and this man weren’t going anywhere.

He was amazing. Smart. Brilliant. We went to art shows, we’d go on long walks, just talk, and he constantly reminded me that I was special. We held hands, we touched — but we never kissed. It was in some ways the most intimate relationship that I had ever had, but we never had sex. The closer we got, the more we were entangled into each other’s lives, the more my feelings grew, and I couldn’t keep it in any longer.

When I told him I was falling in love with him, he didn’t flinch.

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He smiled and told me we had something special, something that he had never experienced, something that he cherished. He made me feel understood, listened to, accepted.

But he never said that he was falling in love with me too.

And when I pulled away, confused, saying that I needed space to figure out what to do next, he told me he was afraid to give me that space because he feared we would come back to each other and be something else than what we were right then.

My appointment with my shaman fell right in the middle of all of this. She said “Stay the course,” so I did.

And there we were, right in each other’s arms, singing our hearts out to “Raspberry Beret.” But the night ended as every night did, minutes of holding each other, delayed goodbyes but no actual kiss.

As much as I’m a woman who wants to be cherished and cared for, I am also a woman who wants and needs to be rubbed up on. And here I was feeling as if I was getting used for my mind, and my body was being completely ignored.

Somehow, I found the courage to ask the one question I was afraid to ask for months: “Do you have romantic feelings for me, yes or no?” He paused and said “No … but ...”

But I didn’t have room for “but,” so I stopped him and asked him to let me go.

And just like that, the magic stopped.

And two people who couldn’t go a day without talking to each other all of a sudden were no longer speaking to each other.

The truth is, I believe there’s beauty in ambiguity. There’s a place where you can roam forever and get lost in something great. But that place is not in my love life. And the course that we were on wasn’t my course. It was his.

These months without him, they hurt.

I settled myself into the reality that it’s completely OK if he doesn’t think I’m sexy. Because … I do. I think I’m sexy. I know that not only am I worthy, that it’s 100% possible to find a remarkable man, who recognizes that I am remarkable and wants to blow my back out too.

I think the shaman was right. I do think he was in love with me but I was Olympic and he was Pico. Two roads that get mistaken for each other all the time, two streets that people believe take you to the same destination — but they’re different.

So… I’m staying the course, but this course is mine.

The author is a writer and storyteller living in Los Angeles. She is on Instagram at @amuseishere.

L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.

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