Mr. Darcy...if you're out there...

Ever since I was a little girl and discovered what Romance is I was a sucker for it.  Someone to love, someone to hold hands with, someone to kiss me good night.  The idea of my “soul mate” has always been a wonder! All those chick flicks didn't help either!

My first boyfriend, we’ll call him C, I was totally smitten with.  He was my first real boyfriend.  I asked him to Prom and then shortly after we were “boyfriend and girlfriend.”  We dated all summer!  At the end of summer C started to freak out.  He thought I was too “serious.”  I guess a friend had told him that I was “in love” with him.  Well, over a very serious phone conversation I tried my hardest to convince C and myself that I loved spending time and being with him, but I absolutely was not “in love” with him.  I probably was, but I was 16 and I’m not sure if I really knew what that was then.

As  I went to college I met boys that I really liked, but because I wouldn't “give” them enough of me I wasn't good enough and they moved on.

As I grew up I always seemed to be the “giver” in the relationship.  I cared so much about the other person and making the relationship work, no matter what, that I forgot about myself. Along the way there were a few self-defining relationships.

B was my college boyfriend.  It was a bad situation to begin with.  He was the ex-boyfriend of a sorority sister.  Yes, I now know of the “chicks before dicks” mantra.  Believe me; I've learned my lesson…and what a lesson it was.  It was tough and I was challenged strongly by people that I thought were my friends.  But then again, maybe I’m the one who pushed them to choose sides.  When the situation happened, people kept asking me, “is he really worth it?”  Well, I felt the need to prove them wrong.  I felt the need to show to everyone that he absolutely was worth it.  It turned out that he wasn’t.  Go figure!

When I lived in Los Angeles, there was J.  I met him at the sushi restaurant that I worked at. J is Colombian and Chilean and had a mysterious air to him – leather jacket and motorcycle.  He spoke Spanish fluently and was oh so debonair.  Not to mention manipulative.  The first couple weeks were amazing.  Great dinners, dancing, and he knew people at clubs.   His friends were super cool; one of them was even in a band.  Then the ex-girlfriend came along.  She moved back to L.A. from Florida and I felt threatened.  As it turns out I had every right too.  I didn't even find out from him; I found out from her.  Even though that J and I were not “exclusive” I thought we were.  He kept telling me that he wasn’t seeing anyone, but deep down I knew he was.  The female instinct is always right. He had been cheating on me, lying to me and sneaking around. 

Two year ago I was on and I met a guy that I thought was great; let’s call him A.  After two weeks of dating we were having an extreme argument.  It was almost like we were in the middle of a divorce and I was taking his kids away from him.  It was that bad!  My Bestie will tell you J  It was the first time that I realized that I could no longer put others before myself.  A wanted me to be constantly available for him and at his every will.  After dating J and B, I knew that wasn't who I was anymore.

I used to do everything I could to keep a guy.  I have grown up and realized that my needs can sometimes be way more important…should be more important.

I recently went on a date with someone.  He’s not the typical guy I would normally go for.  He’s shorter than me, younger than me, and a bit “robust,” but ever so the gentleman.  We went on a date about a week ago.  He picked me up, opened the door for me, and paid for dinner.  I had an absolute amazing time!  We had great conversation and he made me laugh.  It was a real date.  It was the most real date I have had in a very long time.  A few days later I was invited over to meet his "crew" and I was introduced to a totally different world.  Not a bad world, just a world that I don’t want to be a part of anymore.  So, P and I talked about it and he asked me how I liked the "crew" and I was honest with him.  Told him everything I just said above.  The problem is, P took it as a challenge.  When I make up my mind about something - my mind is made up.  Especially with something like this.  There's nothing that he can do or say that's going to change my mind about this.  It's frustrating, because I felt like he wasn't listening to me or even taking me seriously.

After everything that I went through at the beginning of the year, there is no way that I will put myself in that sort of social situation again.  No matter how much I like the guy.  I would say it’s a tough call, but at the same time I really need to put myself first.  For so long I didn't put myself first. I would do what the guy wanted, what the guy liked to do, drank as much as the guy drank, but no more.  If I don’t put myself first, then I’ll fall apart and fall right back to where I was a year ago.  I talked to my best friend and my mom about it.  They are both so proud of me for recognizing me and my needs before choosing a guy.  This would be a great step for Erica-kind.  No matter how much I like the guy, I just will not put myself in those social situations ever again.

I’m 30 years old and have officially put myself first.  Sure, with J and B, I realized what was important, but way too late.  At least now with P I realized it upfront after only a week of dating him instead of dating him for weeks or maybe months before I got too emotionally involved.  At that point, I would have been hopelessly lost.

I am still a hopeless romantic looking for love.  I know that I’ll find it one day, when I’m ready and when it’s right. At least I know now that Chivalry is still alive and well.  I know my Mr. Darcy is out there somewhere.  He'll find me!