December 02, 2015

Before You Leap...

When it comes to love, can you ever really look before you leap?

I'm not the kind of person that walks into something without a plan. If there's a three day weekend coming up, I've got an itinerary. A visit from a bestie who lives far away? My outing options have options. Going to dinner to discuss a major relationship decision? He'll be lucky if my notes aren't lamented. 

I'm the kind of girl who always has a plan, and always comes prepared. 

But in love, can you ever really be prepared?

We all certainly try, don't we? We make our lists. (Right? Tell me it's not just me...) Pros. Cons. Our needs. Our deal breakers. We do this because we need to know we're making the right decision. 

But if there was, a right decision, I mean, then we wouldn't have the saying good on paper. If relationships...


If love was about planning, preparedness, lists, then we wouldn't have the term good on paper. And yet we do. Because it happens to all of us. We meet someone that ticks all the boxes, passes all the tests, and yet something just doesn't quite...


No, it never fits with the good on paper people. The people you should date. The people you should want to marry. The people you should love. 

It fits with the people that make you stop and look at all your lists and ask yourself what the hell you're doing. It fits with the people you told yourself you'd never be into, or the people you swore you'd never fall for again. The people you love in a way that scares you to death. 

You can try to prepare, but you can't predict what a relationship will be like. 

It's like when you're shopping online. You check all your filters, you scroll, and then you find the perfect dress. Cut, color, size - everything you wanted. The price is right too, so you order it, only to take it out of the box, put it on, and realize that even though it's your size, and it should doesn't. And you want it to. So you tell yourself you'll take it in, or even go get it tailored. But after just a few minutes you find yourself fiddling with the receipt and looking for the return instructions because honestly, you didn't buy the dress to fight with it. You just wanted to wear it. 

All that shopping with only disappointing results can be disheartening and even the most fashionable of us sometimes give up. At least for a time. Until one day you're wandering around in the mall and you see something that kind of...just...catches you. It isn't at all what you were looking for. It's not the color you had in mind. The style is your taste, sure, just not precisely what you'd pictured yourself in. You try to shrug it off but your eye keeps wandering back to it so you say fine, and pick it up, while you continue to search for the ideal dress. Like the ones you found online - never mind that they got returned. You find two more dresses after the off one. One is the right color, wrong cut, but why not. You'll try it. The other is a different color but the cut seems promising. 

You hang the eye catcher behind the other dresses when you enter the dressing room because that's not your dress. It's not. You wanted red, and this is a black, lace cocktail dress. Completely off. You try on the two others and it's clear that this whole dress business is a complete waste of time - at least right now. You aren't going to find anything. Maybe if you wait a few months for new items to get shipped. Or maybe you're just looking in the wrong place altogether. Maybe you should move to Paris. Surely the dresses there are more your taste. Except, okay, there's that dress you couldn't take your eyes off of. And you still can't quite go home without at least trying it on... 

Even as you take it off the hanger you know it's going to fit. You just know sometimes. The same way you know it's probably way more than you can reasonably afford and that if you cave and buy it you won't be eating for a week, you know it's going to fit you perfectly. 

It hugs in all the right places before you even get the zipper all the way up. Parts of it looked strange on the hanger but everything falls exactly as it should. You can already picture it with shoes, your hair done up, makeup, the right clutch. Earrings you have at home but since you're out this dress might even warrant a new pair. Immediately your mind wanders ahead, way ahead, getting excited, making plans. It's like that when you find the right dress. 

You pay, you leave, and on the drive home you're smiling. You got the wrong dress. It doesn't tick any of the boxes you set out trying to fill. But it fits. It fits perfectly. And you're happy.

Love is like that, I feel. You want to look before you leap. But the truth is all the filters in the world won't tell you how something is going to feel once you're in it. If it's too loose, too tight, too conservative. You never know until you try it on. 

It's terribly inconvenient, that truth. It doesn't come with instructions. I wish it did. I wish there was a person standing out in front making hand signals, gesturing to my oxygen mask and explaining how to turn my seat into a floatation device. Or a quick spreadsheet I could punch some numbers into, choose a formula and calculate the likelihood of sink or swim. 

But there's no such thing. Only time can tell. And all that faux planning is just an attempt to control the uncontrollable. There is no list to be made, no questionnaire to be answered, no formula to aid with risk assessment or to predict an outcome.

We'd like to look before we leap. But when it comes to love, the only way to know what's down there...

Is to jump. 


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