Perhaps my most unique relationship I’ve ever had was with “Heather.” Unlike any other relationship I’ve been in, we actually knew each other for quite a while before we started dating. For one, I was in a relationship with “Whitney” at the at the time we met, but an even greater reason why it took a while as because she was in high school and I was in college when we met… which made her much too young! In college I began coaching at a high school that was just a couple miles from campus. Even though I only worked with a small handful of athletes, I knew just about everyone on both the boys and girls teams. During that time, there were athletes on the team that I knew I would try to keep in touch with after they graduated, and Heather was certainly one of them. She was always very thoughtful and always had a treat left over for me after handing them out to teammates. When we were both in college we kept in touch by email every now and then and our schools were about 30 minutes apart, so I saw her in person a couple times a year until I graduated and got a job further away. (Note: In EX-Factor posts the timing of when a relationship happened is crucial to understanding the story. If you need a visual- visit the TIMELINE.)
Two years later, I was in the second year of my career and Heather was a junior in college and we were still in touch every few months. She told me that she was coming into my area to visit some friends, but also wanted to see me if I was around. I happened to be in town that weekend, so she stopped by and we caught up for quite a while. We talked about all the different things that were going on in our life at the time and since she was going into the same general career as I was we had more to talk about. During this visit was the first time things between us got flirtatious. I wasn’t seeing anyone at the time, so I started to consider the possibility of pursuing this new “spark” could go. On her next email, however, she called me out on it and not wanting to risk making her feel uncomfortable I dismissed any feelings I was having. It only took a couple more months to think about how sweet and thoughtful she had always been towards me over the years, I decided to take a risk of loosing a person I considered a friend at the chance of having something more…
The next time I was visiting her area, I told her I’d swing by to visit her this time. This time I promised myself that if things got flirtatious again, I would make a move and see if she felt the same way. As I pulled up to her place, I couldn’t have been more nervous! As the evening went on, things did turn in the direction of flirtation and I leaned in for a kiss. All was going well, when suddenly she stopped and said she couldn’t keep going. Apparently in all those emails and conversations over the years, the one things she never mentioned was that she had a boyfriend! My heart sank and I felt terrible. Sensing this, she immediately told me that she had been interested in me for a long time, but never thought I would feel the same way. She also said that her relationship had not been good for quite sometime as her boyfriend was going to school out East and she barely ever saw him. With all of the emotions that were going on, I still managed to give her the best advice I could give to someone in that situation. I told her that first and foremost she needed to think about whether or not she could have the relationship she wanted to with her boyfriend, and in the meantime she shouldn’t even consider me as an option. I followed by saying that if she did decide to break-up with him, she should take some time before considering whether or not she wanted to start seeing me. She didn’t take the advice. Before I left, she told me she planned to break up with him and then she would be in touch.
A couple days later she called me with mixed emotions, she was hurting badly as she ended her relationship with a confession that she had cheated on him. Still, she wanted to see me as soon as possible. Now right about that time I actually had my tonsils taken out, which isn’t a big deal for someone who is younger, but it puts you out for quite a while as an adult. After a long weekend at my parents, and a couple miserable days on my own, Heather visited my place for the second half of her spring break to take care of me. I had a great time spending time with her even though I could barely talk, and she was a total sweetheart the entire time. By her last couple days there I was finally starting to feel better and the intimacy began. There was certainly a instant connection both physically and emotionally and one I’ve never been able to forget since. In short time I started falling for her.
The rest of the time we’ve known each other I would say we both fell victims to much of what I brought up in my post “Hindsight is 20/20”. Most of what I say from this point forward has been after years of processing, because at the time I don’t think either one of us could have explained why things happened the way they did. Most of the time, Heather’s demeanor towards me was sweet and thoughtful, but every once in a while she do or say hurtful things to me. Looking back I strongly believe that she was still hurting from her break-up and she often took it out on me because the timing of me approaching her is what lead to her break-up. In spite of our occasional bumps in the road, I was just excited to be in love again. It had been two years since the break-up of my first love, Whitney. After feeling like I lost the ability to have strong feelings towards anyone I had dated since, I was so happy to have those feelings like those again. Somewhere in the mix of my emotions, the wires got crossed and one morning while Heather and I were cuddling, I called her Whitney. As soon as it happened it was like everything was in slow motion and I wanted to reach out and shove the sounds back into my mouth, but obviously I couldn’t. She packed up her things and left despite me begging her to stay. Eventually told me she didn’t love me anymore and didn’t want to see me anymore. Apparently that was a final straw for her in a three month relationship that didn’t go as perfectly as she had once imagined.
Now timing is an extremely important factor in the rest of the story, so I will share parts of other stories so that it makes sense. Anyway, the summer after my break-up with Heather was when Whitney came into town for that interview and we started seeing each other again. After that ended I was doing a lot of reflecting about relationships. I was feeling bad that my actions the previous winter lead to Heather breaking off her relationship. Additionally, I felt terrible for fact that I put our friendship on the line for something that ended up not working out. When I got in touch I was very surprised with the tone of our conversation. Based on how things ended I thought she wouldn’t really want to hear from me, but instead she was very excited. She admitted that she got back together with her ex-boyfriend that summer and that it ended on it’s own this time and she didn’t hold any hard feelings against me. For obvious reasons I did NOT tell her that I got back together with Whitney.
It wasn’t long before Heather wanted to see me again and I agreed, so she came to visit. I really just wanted to re-kindle our friendship, but a lot more than that happened. Caught up in the emotions, we started seeing each other again. That’s when the tone changed. From then on, she never seemed happy and often said hurtful things to me. Looking back years later, I think she was still very upset about a combination of how things ended with us the first time, and still the hurt of her break-up with her ex-boyfriend from the year before. After about another month of this I couldn’t take it anymore and broke things off. Surprisingly, she was completely devastated. In an emotional plea she admitted she was purposely pushing my buttons all this entire time. She said couldn’t explain why she did this, but she told me that she still loved me deeply. Over the course of the next couple weeks she sent me some of the most thoughtful and loving emails to re-gain my trust. However, the combination of the past month along with Whitney leaving me for another guy just a couple months earlier I was emotionally numb. I told her I just wanted to be friends again, and she gave me an ultimatum that we either had to get back together or we should never talk again. Disappointed I wished her luck and told her she could get back in touch anytime.
Most would think it would’ve ended there, but it didn’t. In the fall almost three years later, I sent a mass email to everyone in my address book that I was switching to a new email. I nearly took Heather off the list, but kept her on in case she ever wanted to get back in touch someday. Well someday came very quickly as she responded almost right away. The emails were friendly and we were catching up quickly, and it wasn’t long before she wanted to meet up in person again. A couple weeks later met half way between our cities and hung out for the day. Now she too was out of school and working, also in a similar career to myself, and we spent the entire day hanging out and didn’t want it to end. We decided to go back to my place, so we both drove an hour in order to spend the rest of the night hanging out. Based on our past you would think we hooked up, but nothing happened. Why? Well like most girls, Heather isn’t the type to make a move, and in spite of the feelings that started coming back, I promised myself I wouldn’t make a move on Heather ever again until I was totally emotionally available.
As usual, the timing was terrible. Just months earlier in the summer, I had ended a two year relationship with “Shana” and I was not handling it well. I was in the middle of what even today I would consider my biggest dating binge of my life. It wasn’t just the quantity of girls I was dating, but the fact that I was having intimate relationships with all of them. I’m not proud of what I did, but at the time that was my way of dealing with my disappointment. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have agreed to meet Heather while this was going on, but I was curious and didn’t expect the feelings to come back as quickly as they did. I knew it was a matter of time before my situation fizzled off, so from then on I kept Heather at arms length and only talked to her over the phone and by email.
Everything that happened in the course of the next two months set me up to finally feel ready to settle down again. The dating binge gradually came to an end and it was out of my system. Additionally, I regretted cutting myself off emotionally while proceeding to have relationships and told myself I wouldn’t do that again. That was also the time I finally made peace with Whitney and no longer felt an romantic connection to her. With all of that behind me, I decided I would visit Heather in person again. We met up shortly after that, but the tone had changed. She seemed completely disinterested in pursuing a relationship anymore. I was finally ready, but she had grown tired of waiting around. I was so ready to be in a relationship, that less than a week later I met “Sara” on New Years Eve and dated her exclusively for the next three and a half years, despite the fact we really didn’t have a lot in common. That, of course, is another story.
Still to this day I wonder if Heather and I were simply two good people who were just really bad for each other, or if we were a great couple waiting to happen if the timing was ever right. Every time end a long-term relationship, I tell myself I’ll get back in touch when I get my emotions in check. However, as a dateoholic, I always meet someone before that time happens and before you know it I’ve got another situation developing. Regardless, Heather has always remained the girl from my past that I’ve never been able to stop thinking about.