For the record, you should be reading this in the same tone as “ we were on a break” and if you don’t get that reference you’re probably too young for this blog anyhow.
I have had a love/ hate relationship with Jswipe. Think Tinder for Jews without the overt sexual overtones. They’re there but just slightly more subtle than your grandmother asking if you really need another piece of cake. When I first discovered Jswipe, it was amazing to explore the dating world in your pajamas. But then you reach the end and it says ‘no more matches’ and you feel utterly and completely alone. And then a couple of people match with you, and you may even go on a couple of dates. And between scrolling on TikTok and Instagram, you swear how much you hate Jswipe because it’s ‘so superficial’ ignoring the irony of this statement while scrolling other visual platforms. So you delete it.
I had ended a short relationship and decided to give Jswipe a chance again. My bio said “mama bear of 4 cubs and lover of sarcasm and cheese’. I knew that most guys wouldn’t read the profile so I didn’t bother putting any effort into it. But I swiped on a man in Ottawa who not only had a full biography but had paragraphs and punctuation *swoon*. His bio said his friends tease him as a lefty and that at this point in time, he couldn’t move. I was so enthralled with the grammar and progressive tendencies, I didn’t pay much attention to the rest.
It was our second conversation that he asked me, ‘What are we doing here? You in Toronto with 4 kids and me in Ottawa with 3”? At this point, I was like ‘dude, I don’t even know how I feel about you, who cares?’ Just another source of evidence that I am definitely not always right in this relationship, or at all for that matter. From day one, the distance alarmed him far more than I. I honestly don’t know why it didn’t worry me. Distance had been a deal-breaker for me before so why was I so flippant about it now? Why wasn’t this fueling my anxiety, the one issue of genuine concern? To be honest, I don’t really know the answer. I know what I’ve told myself but those feel like placations to a kid’s fears of monsters in the closet.
It’s no secret that you can’t get it all in a relationship. The relationship I was in prior to this one, the man was kind but intellectually, we were not compatible. But before ending the relationship, I taunted myself with the idea that we don’t get everything in relationships so maybe I should just accept this and be grateful for what does work. But the parts that didn’t work were so much louder than the ones that did.
And here, it was the other way around.
The things that did work were and still are so much louder than the distance that doesn’t work.
And that’s why we’ve held on all this time. It’s hard. And there are times we both need one another and we simply can’t be there. We routinely have to choose between one another and our kids and of course, our kids win out most times.
The way I see it is that our kids won’t always be young and within the next 10-12 years, they will be old enough to make their own decisions. But beyond those years, when the kids are gone, you really have to like the person you’re with. Not just love, but really, really like that person. You have to be ok with them constantly leaving the fridge open for ‘just a second’(me), you have to accept they may routinely leave the cupboard door open (him), you have to deal with them being mad at you for wronging you in their dreams (me) and starting conversations in their head and continuing them out loud, expecting you to just know what they’re talking about(not shockingly, me).
I don’t want to romanticize the distance and give the illusion that love conquers all. I love the man I am with but without communication and taking honest stock of ourselves, I may have walked away from love. I had to ask myself if this is something I can do? I will, at one point, be married, but still, live alone like a single mother. There will be events attend alone because the weekends didn’t match up. There are financial ramifications to getting married that aren’t supplemented when you’re not living together- is this feasible? These are questions I’ve had to honestly answer before continuing the relationship. I have accepted them, does that mean they are easy? No. Does that mean I always enjoy it? No.
We can make choices and still struggle with their realities. Choosing something hard does not assume hardship is earned but rather it assumes hardship is known.
One day when Covid allows for weddings, I have no doubt this wonderful man of mine will stand up and give a beautiful speech about our love and he will share how many conversations ago, he was the one to say, “I can’t move”! We will all laugh, he will look at me with a mixture of mock frustration and love and we will spend the rest of the night celebrating that love can be hard, it can be messy, it can be beautiful and all those things can be true at once.