Confession: I intended to launch my blog with this article, but it's been sitting in my drafts for weeks until I could gather the courage to press "publish." It's time.
A late bloomer, I didn’t start dating seriously until I was 21. I attended an all-girls high school and an artsy college; neither of those wonderful life experiences afforded me many opportunities to meet eligible men. A few months ago, a casting agent from a reality TV dating show reached out to me through Instagram about being a contestant on an upcoming show shooting in Dallas. Soon after, during a follow-up video interview with the casting director, she asked me to describe the types of men I’ve dated. In that moment, I realized I’ve only seriously dated men who happen to be tall, blonde, former Eagle Scouts.
My first boyfriend charmed me with his sense of humor and desire for adventure. He played hard and worked just hard enough to get by. Weekends with him were spent crawling from pub to pub in Boston and playing disc golf in the beautiful New England woods. He became one of the best friends I’d ever known. We even survived a year of dating long distance between Boston and New York, exploring the city and trying cheap but highly rated restaurants whenever he was in town. Dating him was fun. I tended to be serious and focused; he helped me loosen up and enjoy life while I was trying to navigate the scary world of post-college adulthood. Laughter, relaxation, and vacations are all wonderful, but there needs to be a deeper connection than what we had to sustain a relationship. When it ended, I wasn’t sure I’d ever trust another man again.
The second blonde Eagle Scout came along just when I needed him. He was a friend from high school who had always been kind but slightly awkward. Even though we hadn’t seen each other in ten years, we enjoyed what felt like a sweet, fun high school relationship - the one I'd always wanted at 17. He was much more in shape than I was at this point in my journey and always encouraged my pursuit of fitness. We had lunch dates at my gym where he walked me through the basics of CrossFit. Once I was comfortable, he brought me to his CrossFit box and introduced me to some incredible people whom I still call friends today. Our work schedules never aligned well so we didn't see each other often, but we'd check in throughout the day and talk about our workouts and food. Though we were the same age, I always felt older. I had moved away from Dallas at 18 and spent 9 years in Boston and New York, while he had never really left the Dallas bubble. There were so many moments dating him that I saw flashes of gold (the opposite of red flags). There were things he would do that were so thoughtful and I'd think, "This is the kind of man I should be with." I remember one night I had a late comedy show and he was leaving work. He sent me a screenshot of the Doppler radar, told me to be careful driving home, and asked me to let him know when I was home safely. No man had ever worried about me like that besides my dad. While this guy had so much potential, we were in two very different places in life. He was ready to get out of Texas and start a new phase of life. I was ready to root myself in Dallas. The end…wasn't great. We might have stayed friends if he had been a better communicator. I still maintain he's a good person. He’s just not my person.
The last tall, blonde, Eagle Scout had a smile that could light up the room. The only way to describe how I felt with him, was that for the first time I was dating someone I had a crush on. I had been attracted to his two predecessors, but this felt different. He was also the first divorced man I ever dated as well as the first man I had dated who was a father. We initially bonded over the fact that we had both been cheated on and couldn't imagine ever cheating on a partner. We met during a time when he was still healing from his divorce. Though friends and family warned me he needed more time, I couldn't stop myself from falling in love with him. It was so easy and so fast. We were finishing each other's sentences right from the start. Our ideal dates consisted of hiking, drinking a good beer, and talking about books we'd read. We were both self-improvement junkies. We both believed in working hard but enjoying life outside of work. He valued exercise and nutrition. We swapped workouts and recipes to help each other stay on track and reach our goals. We made each other laugh. We took things slowly and built a friendship that felt like a foundation for a lifetime of happiness. I never once doubted his feelings for me while we were dating. He was a great communicator and was always honest with me.
When he proposed a trip away after a few months of dating, it felt like a natural next step in our whirlwind relationship. We had the whole romantic long weekend planned out. Suddenly, a week before the trip he started acting strangely. He wasn't communicating and it felt like he was pulling away. When I called him on it, he cancelled the trip. I was crushed. Even though I had let him lead and set the pace for our relationship, things still happened too quickly for him. He was not over the end of his marriage. He wooed me, pursued me, got me, and dropped me. He said he wished he had met someone else while he was going through his transition to life after divorce. He admitted that he had only started dating to get practice dating again, but when we met magic happened, yet he wasn't ready. That magic was really difficult for me to let go of. I felt like the lead actress in a play who got cut from the script through no fault of her own. It took a couple of months for me to heal. Then he reappeared without warning and I let the magic overtake me again for just a little while. Thankfully it didn’t take long for me to see that he was still a broken, mixed-up man with nothing to offer. I’ll never understand it, but evidently Eagle Scout #3 doesn’t love himself enough to believe he deserves commitment and joy. He remains loyal to a fault to the woman who mothered his child but repeatedly broke his heart. Of course it was painful to have the recent wound reopened, but knowing that I deserve someone who’s ready, willing and able to go “all in” somehow hastened the healing.
As I get older, my relationships are getting shorter and shorter. I’ve made jokes about it at my own expense, but really I think it’s a good thing. I know myself and what I want in a partner now more than ever, so there’s no need to waste my time or anyone else’s. I used to believe that destiny would lead each of us to find the one person created for us to be with forever, but my perspective has shifted. I think there are probably 20-30 amazing men out there who could collaborate with me on writing our happily ever after. At some point, you pick someone, they pick you, and then you both have to choose to love each other over everyone else day after day.
I’d like to thank the tall, blonde, Eagle Scouts who helped shape the woman I am today. They can take partial credit for helping me earn several worthwhile badges: fun-loving spirit, outdoor adventure, physical fitness, nutrition, self-improvement, and passion. But they also get credit for my disappointment, heartbreak, trust your gut, red flag, being alone is far better than being second best, and self-preservation badges. I’ve lived, loved, and learned. I realize now that I don’t need an Eagle Scout, but I would welcome a soulmate. I can navigate the woods, start a fire, and tie knots that bind all on my own.