Because they are so rarely profiled, I’d like to share two stories that illustrate what this kind of love looks like. I’ve protected their identities by altering the details to ensure their privacy, but I assure you that they exist.
Also, in both scenarios, it is the women who left the relationship. I’ve purposely chosen these two illustrations to challenge the widespread belief that men are more likely to leave a relationship before women do.
Kate and Tanner
“Before Tanner and I met, neither of us had ever stopped long enough in our careers to even think of settling down. My commitment to being a reporter necessitated that I be away from home for more than I was there, and often without much warning. My friends and family knew that my bags were always packed and my keys were on the counter, ever-ready to embrace any new adventure.
I only had a few relatively serious relationships that had promise, but my work came first for me. In my twenties, it didn’t matter. I was fine the way things were.
Then, somehow, I stopped long enough to look at the clock. I was thirty-five and everyone I’d known since forever was planning a future with someone they adored. I began to wonder if I had truly missed something.
Tanner was only a 10-year-old kid when I met him. He was my best friend when we were young and androgynous.
Later, I met him again at a mutual friend’s wedding. The night morphed into weeks and months of what felt like genuine and true love. He was an artist and loved the times I was away so he could paint without feeling that he was neglecting me.
My family and friends loved him. Everything seemed perfect.
We had never discussed a family and, seemingly out of nowhere, he was more connected to time and knew that, if we were going to have a family, we’d better get going. At first, I thought he was just musing, you know, kind of like, “shouldn’t we have a kid, Kate? I think it’s time.” So, I pretty much ignored him. Until I realized that he meant it. We began to argue. The conflicts escalated and it seemed that was all we talked about. I kept sweeping it under the rug, focusing on what was still so good and easy between us, pretty much refusing to take him seriously.
I came home one day to find all of his things gone. The note was simple: ‘I will always love and treasure you, Kate. I believe in your hopes and dreams. But they are no longer mine. I’ve met someone who is more in line with my desires. I would never have started an affair without leaving first. The honesty we’ve shared has fed my soul and it will always be that way. Stay on your path, Kate. Hold onto your own light.’”
“Loving you was easy. Hating you was hard. Falling out was insane.” – Dominic Riccitello
“I loved Kate when she had braids and a face full of freckles. We were just kids but life was always more fun when we were together. She was my best friend until I went to boarding school and she worked hard enough to get into a great college. But we always kept in touch.
My folks wanted me to be a doctor, but art held my heart and I persisted. I dated enough women to know that I wasn’t ready to commit, and maybe never would be. Maybe I just never found anyone who touched my heart in the same way.
Until that wedding.
When Kate walked in, my heart stopped. I hadn’t laid eyes on her for almost 15 years. She was an amazing kid, but a phenomenal woman. Smart, beautiful, charismatic, welcoming. I tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around. It was a mutual synergy. We hugged and talked throughout the night, and never left each other’s sides for a decade.