Love

I Used My Former Affair Partner As A Yardstick

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woman and man talking

At the time of this post, I’ve been on 57 first dates. Some of the guys I met for second and third dates. Some I dated for several months. With a few, we parted as friends, but over time the relationships dwindled.

Needless to say, I still haven't found the guy I’m seeking.

And I’m beginning to wonder if I’m going about this quest to find Mr. Right all wrong because, with each guy I meet, I’m using my former affair partner as the yardstick.

Is that fair? And is he even a good yardstick?

Here are the metrics I've been using:

Feeling like I’ve arrived home

The first time I ever hugged Mr. Affair I heard the word home. Seriously. I heard that word rise up from a place deep within me. I felt like I’d arrived in a place that was safe. Accepting. Warm. Cozy. I felt like I belonged there.

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Did that feeling crop up when I hugged any of those 57 dates? Nope. Although in all fairness, there were a number of them I never hugged. But I had no desire to get close to any of those guys so I doubt I’d have heard anything resembling the word home.

A sense of ease balanced with excitement

With Mr. Affair, being with him felt easy, like on some level we already knew and understood each other.

Yet this ease wasn’t ever boring. It was balanced with feelings of excitement every time we got together. Every time he saw me he said, “It’s really good to see you.” And I know he meant it because I felt exactly the same way.

Being together felt both easy and exciting.

Open communication

Mr. Affair and I were able to have open and sometimes difficult conversations — ones where we listened and worked to understand each other.

Neither one of us shied away from these conversations or dismissed what the other was feeling.

Sometimes we said things that were really hard for the other person to hear — things that hurt — yet we stayed connected.

Amazing sex

Oh la la the sex. It wasn’t just mind-blowing. It was like our bodies were perfectly matched. 

There were a few preferences to learn, but for the most part, we instinctively knew what to do. I’ve never felt bliss quite like the times we were together.

I never knew sex could be that way although to be fair, I had only been with my ex before getting involved with Mr. Affair, so my experience was certainly skewed.

When I learned what sex could be like, I thought I’d experience this with other guys as well. So far, not so much. Nothing has quite matched the intensity and chemistry.

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All of this has me thinking. Is it fair to use Mr. Affair as a yardstick?

Were the feeling I had with him only because the relationship was forbidden? Secretive? Did that add a spin to our connection? Was my experience with him what real love feels like or was it just lust?

One of the guys I dated described long-lasting love as a deep well — a rich and full place that can be added to in good times and drawn from during hard ones. He’d had relationships that were wide with no depth and ones that resembled geysers — ones that erupted big then fizzled out.

Is that what Mr. Affair was? A geyser? I’d say when the relationship ended it felt more like a tearing apart than a fizzle. It felt like two strips of velcro being torn apart.

Rrrrrrrip.

Our parting almost had that sound. The loss was tremendous. And like two separate strips of velcro, at first I felt weaker without him. Flimsy. Unsupported.

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That feeling has changed as I realize that my strength comes from within me. He just provided the spark for its growth.

I know I’ve grown and changed a lot since Mr. Affair and I were last together.

I’ve often wondered if we’d stayed together or ever met again if the magic would still be there. I haven’t seen him in 3 years. The last contact we had was when he called me on New Year’s Eve and that felt a bit like a booty call. But was it? I don’t know for sure.

I do know that toxic relationships that can color our views on things.

It becomes a familiar way to relate and we sometimes end up looking for a similar relationship because it feels normal. It’s what we’re used to. And toxicity may wear the mask of excitement when it should register as being there and not going to do that again. Sometimes I wonder if I mistook toxicity for excitement and chemistry.

I don’t have the answers, because I’m not certain if what Mr. Affair and I had was real love. And if it wasn’t, I’m not certain I’ve ever experienced deep abiding love.

I feel deep love for my kids of course as well as my siblings and a few friends. But obviously, none of these relationships involve romantic love.

So I’m putting the question out there. What does real long-lasting love feel like? Does it feel like arriving home? How’s the sex? What’s communication like? Do you feel a sense of ease balanced with excitement? Not all the time of course, but the majority of the time? What should I be looking for?

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Kasey Sparks writes about making mistakes, gathering lessons, and sparking curiosity. Read more of her on Medium.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.