While working at Wendy’s, when I was 16, I did one of the first epically romantic things I had ever done. I recorded Sting’s Fields of Gold on a cassette tape, and then dubbed my own voice on top of that. I had the general manager play it over the loud speakers as we cleaned and closed the restaurant. “Linda,” I said in a deep and macho a voice as I could, “I can’t get you out of my mind, girl…” Dramatic pause… “It would be my honor if you would go to prom with me.” I had flowers waiting. She said yes, not that it matters. That’s not what this post is about.

That was one of hundreds of gestures I’ve made over the decades to try and woo women and make them feel amazing once they were wooed. I’ve purchased more bouquets of flowers than there are days in the year. I’ve taken women on special trips to incredible places. I’ve written songs for women. I’ve made a public fool of myself to make women feel special. I’ve written so many poems now.

I remember one time, I had just had major surgery and was in a world of pain. I was limping to the car and before getting in, I went to my then-wife’s door to open it for her. She told me I didn’t need to do that in the state I was in, and I said there was never going to be a time when I wouldn’t open her door for her.

Another time I was leaving for two weeks and I left a secret trail of sweet things around the house for my girlfriend to find, one day at a time. Pictures. Notes. Poems. Sweets. Even jewelry. It took me days to put it all together.

One friend (who I used to date) reminded me over this past weekend how I once went to the store just to buy a blanket so that we could go out and look at the stars at the park together.

I’ve made homemade pop-up cards.

I’ve drawn portraits or other art to give as gifts.

I’ve made up choreographed dances and composed songs.

I’ve canceled plans that would have been amazing just to stay home and take care of the person I was dating when she was sick.

I will even admit that FOUR different times now I had the cutest idea and I gave the same gift to four different women during four different relationships because… Damnit. The idea was awesome and just because we broke up shortly after I gave the gifts doesn’t mean it can’t eventually work with someone

What I did was buy one of those collage photo frames with 16 different sections for pictures. I printed one and only one picture of the two of us. I inserted it into the first slot of the frame. I wrapped the entire thing. And then I wrote a sweet note to go with it that said something like, “I can’t wait to fill the rest of these with awesome memories together!”

Cute, right?

Sigh.

I used to always be such a romantic. I had my faults, sure, but good or bad I just did that stuff. Constantly. When things were particularly good or particularly bad, I would find a way to up my romantic game. Valentines Day was my favorite holiday, by far.

But, now…

I don’t know what happened to me. I don’t know why being romantic is a difficult thought.

Did I just get hurt one time too many? Did one too many people cheat on me? Did one relationship too many go sour? Did too many heartaches take their individual tolls? Did one too many women catfish me? Was it something else altogether? Or was it all of it, or a bunch of little things, that all stacked up over time?

Honestly… Did I just give up on love somewhere along the way? I don’t think that’s it. I have always believed I would find my forever someone. If I reach deep down and ask myself if it’s still true, it is. So what is it, then?

I jokingly told my friend today who asked if there was anything she could do to help me out that I just needed her to find me someone to get me laid, and I needed that person to just walk in, not say a word, have her fun with me, then take off without any work on my part whatsoever. “My heart just can’t handle love,” I said.

We had a good laugh. I was joking. Mostly.

Obviously that happening would be the complete opposite of romance.

Lately, the thought of putting effort into finding love just gives me all sorts of anxiety. The thought of spending more money on more women makes me roll my eyes. The thought of going through the work that it takes to truly get to know someone enough to actually have a meaningful connection so that we can eventually have a connecting romp in the sack is like… Ugh. No thank you.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, I just kind of became a little too bitter about love. And I will tell you right now that I don’t like that bitterness. It feels like a nasty cancer.

I actually like being a romantic when I’m with someone I care about. I don’t do the romantic things I do to get laid. I don’t even do them for brownie points. I do them because I like making the person I’m with feel special. No other reason. That’s what I miss. I miss wanting to constantly do that for someone else.

I have no idea how to get the romantic motivation back, if I’m being honest. Do I just need to thoroughly heal and is it even possible to fully do that without meeting someone new? Do I need to buckle down and start meeting lots of new people so that my dating world fills with hope again? I canceled three of the last four dates I was supposed go on because I was hit with a wall of anxiety. I don’t even know what I was scared would happen. They were just first dates. They weren’t big deals.

But… I guess I also know that second dates don’t happen without first dates. Third, and fifth, and tenth dates don’t happen without first dates. Girlfriends don’t happen without first dates. And heartbreak also doesn’t ever happen without first dates.

It’s not the first dates I’m worried about, I guess. I think I’m worried that we’ll both want that second date, and that we’ll both want something after that, too.

I do miss buying “just because” flowers, though. I miss random stops at the store to buy that special someone her favorite chocolates. I miss writing poems that only she will ever read.

Getting laid would be really nice. But having someone to do all the romantic things for again would be sublime.

I just have to figure out how to get over that bitter, hurting, tired-of-it-all hurdle.

And, I will. I don’t know how I will, but I will. After all, if I truly am a romantic, then getting over those things is something I will just have to do. Isn’t that what makes someone a hopeless romantic, when all is said and done?

I don’t know, but I do know that I’m going to get back to that eventually.

Dan Pearce | Dan Pearce Was Here

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