I was fresh off a broken engagement, having dated my ex for four and a half years. My friend and I were at the annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades, and I'd just posted a picture of us on Instagram. (First step to showing the world I'm out and having fun, right?)
My co-worker texted to let me know she was on the way and wanted to meet up for a glass of Champagne. She was coming with her husband and his cousin, Andrew, whom she said had just seen my #veuveclassic post and thought I was "cute." I drunkenly texted her to "meet me at the first picnic bench." They finally arrived and I was surprised by how attractive he was, especially his eyes.
Before we left, he asked for a kiss and I laughed. "You should probably take me out to dinner before that," I said. "OK, give me your number." He had an attractive amount of confidence. I didn't quite know what my intentions were, but I was excited about the possibilities.
Later that week I received a text about dinner. I couldn't wait. I had this unbelievably excited feeling in my stomach. I literally counted down the days and nights. Our first date was casual, the Woodman in Sherman Oaks. I felt like I couldn't stop laughing, and we probably could have continued talking for another couple of hours. Needless to say, it was a great first date. And the chemistry was out of this world.
We ended up casually dating for about four months until I made a decision: I wasn't interested in dating him while we were both dating other people. He didn't agree. He also just got out of a serious relationship and just wasn't quite ready to jump back into one.
And for some reason, that really hurt.
Was I even ready to be in a relationship again? Or was I just scared of being alone? There was something about him that I couldn't shake off.
We broke it off and I continued to date other guys, convincing myself that all of these dates were fun and exciting. But nobody made me feel the way I felt with Andrew. I constantly wondered if I actually fell in love with him or if I fell in love with how he made me feel and who I wanted to be. Or maybe I was just running away from something, maybe the embarrassment and disappointment I'd felt from an engagement that had ended two months before my wedding.
I later heard that he met a girl and they'd become pretty serious. That was when I felt the knife sink in. Why her? And more important, why not me? The line between my feelings for him and my hurt ego were blurred. I wasn't this upset over my engagement ending. Or any of my other past relationships. How could this be? I barely knew him.
Fast-forward a year.
I received an early morning text from an unfamiliar number. It turned out to be his, which I'd deleted from my phone. It said:
Sad, sad boy wanted to say hi. Let me know if you want to grab a drink.
Was he serious?
I ignored it and immediately felt satisfaction.
I won. He lost. The victory felt so good.
A few days later I received an email with the subject line: "I know my text was dumb but I still want to buy you dinner." OK. Well played. Maybe he wasn't being the callous, unapologetic person I thought he was. I quickly remembered why I felt so strongly about him. His sense of humor.
He followed up with a heartfelt, genuine email about how he was in a different place now and wanted to see if something was there with me. I didn't know if I wanted the same. It had been enough to recover the first time, and I wasn't sure if I ever would if I tried a second time. After a couple of sassy email exchanges, I decided to let him take me out to dinner — as friends.
We had a great time. And I let him have it: I told him how bad he made me feel, and I told him how I'd honestly felt about him. He apologized, not aware of how much I'd cared about him.
I ended things with the guy I was dating. Soon, it was as if no time had gone by, and we started over.
We went back and forth for another eight months, from deciding to be friends and then lovers to not speaking to each other to dating other people but occasionally getting together for hikes in Mandeville Canyon Park.
I didn't know where we really stood, but I knew I just needed him in my life. I wrote him off as a potential boyfriend and decided to be content just having him as a friend. He was good at it. No guy I went on a date with seemed to really care about my job or my family or any of the trips I went on. But Andrew was curious about seemingly every detail of my vacations, my relatives, my career goals and my life.
Slowly, we developed a friendship and an admiration for each other and created a relationship that we'd never invested the time in years ago, when we first met.
I think that's why we're together now, as a couple, engaged to be married.
For the longest time I thought that having self-respect and dignity meant not being vulnerable, not giving someone that "second chance" to hurt me.
But I needed to give this one more chance. One more shot.
And I thank my lucky stars every day for doing so.
The author is a director of digital distribution at an independent television and film studio. You can find her on Instagram @brookemorgan124.
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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