Love in the fast lane… exciting and dangerous at the same time, wouldn’t you agree? I’ve written about love, some of my blogs have even become a reference for me as a point in time in which clear thought prevailed. A well written memory is valuable because it marks a moment in time, a forever captured tale, a lesson learned. This blog, I believe, is one such moment of clarity.
It’s true, I have admitted (to the horror of some) falling in love some seven times. Over the course of my life I have figured out a philosophy that works for me but scares the hell out of most, I call it Fast Tracking a Relationship. Remember it, learn it and it will save you from certain disaster in making poor long term choices. I will stand by this philosophy every time because it absolutely works as intended.
Here is some background and the first piece of information to understand Fast Tracking a Relationship. My first wife and I knew each other through our church’s college group. It was an active group and for the time, a very exciting place to be. I’d become friends with her, I’d even say very close friends. It never dawned on me to consider her as a life partner until a roommate friend of mine observed how upset she was that I’d go around flirting with the other girls on the bus during the long ride to and from the Grand Canyon on one such outing. You see, as we departed on the trip I sat with her initially but only considered that I was sitting with a friend. My buddy suggested I should start to think of her as a potential mate and not be so careless with her feelings. (I won’t go into why his observation was a value judgment about me and an effort to give me his brand moral guidance, which could fill another essay entirely.) From that point on I started to date her, after all we were such great friends, it all seems logical and even in God’s plan.
After three months I proposed to her. We planned on getting married a year later but moved it up four months on pressure from her parents because of their planned move out of state prior to our date. I reluctantly agreed, we were married sooner than planned. By all standards of measuring such things we did this the ‘right way.’ We had the blessing of everyone; all predicted a wonderful life for us.
Tragically the marriage went bad very quickly but due to religious pressures I remained in it for 15 years. How could this have happened? I married my best friend after all, not someone I didn’t know.
After my divorce in 1995 I found myself, despite being in counseling, going in and out of relationships. In the first year, I notched two more love relationships, admittedly both were rebounds but both were glorious in that I felt love for them that never existed in my first marriage ever. (If you are keeping track from my earlier admissions that’s 3 of 7 loves.) These burned hot quickly and ended as quickly, but what a ride! On the advice of my counselor I committed to NOT let my heart go to anyone for a year, minimum. This, he reasoned, would help to reground me. For the next 18 months I dated a much older woman with whom I was sure to not fall in love with. Point of fact, I was remarkable detached and managed to avoid true romantic feelings for this woman all while she made amazing efforts at winning me. She moved on, I moved on but very good friends just the same and to this day remain close.
While attending my 20th high school reunion I reconnected to a woman with whom I’d had feelings for so long ago, although we were never a couple back then. We both sought out each other’s company. First phone calls, then quick dinner dates, and finally accepting that fact something bigger was happening. This one felt really good. The chemistry was all present and we seemed to have enough common interests to ‘next level’ it all. I soon proposed and we planned to elope within about two months, her idea not mine for those of you taking notes here and I know some are. There will be a pop quiz tomorrow some time!
I broke off the engagement just days prior to our planned elopement as some critical issues had finally surfaced, deal killers of course. Neither of us could hide these things, it’s the Fast Track ya know. To the amazement of my family I asked another woman out on a date just one week later. Without any real explanation as to the ‘whys’, we hit it off. The chemistry was amazing, overpowering even. Two weeks after dating her I knew I wanted to marry her and so I proposed. She’d been avoiding marriage for the past 10 years but without hesitation she accepted my proposal and we planned a wedding date some five months out. I’d actually known this woman from church for about 8 months prior to dating her for the first time. (Ok score keepers, add two more loves to the list, 5 of 7 now.)
We married just six weeks later. My love for this woman did not waiver for seven years. Although this marriage did not endure, I don’t consider it a failure. People change. The ‘hat trick’ is to find someone that will not leave you out of whatever new direction they are moving too. Marriage, after all, is best characterized as a hand in hand adventure into the unknown with the person you trust most! It was a struggle to put the love aside but considering the details of how the marriage concluded it was the healthy thing to do. That diminished flame ended up being safely stored in a quiet room in my heart with other such loves.
Fast Tracking a Relationship. At first blush, the idea of fasting tracking something so important seems reckless; however, I disagree with that notion. I have found since embracing this idea that a faster pace make’s it tougher for a person to hide shortcomings, or quirky behavior as has occurred for me in relationships that built up slowly, over time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting a sprint to the alter, far from it, cutting to the chase with regards to intentions has helped everyone involved to become clear on the value of the relationship. I have little problem waiting to get married, it’s the build up to the decision that has always nagged me.
Even friends hide things. Ever have a circle of friends in which you tend to disclose things to the different ones in that circle? Then you discover the person you thought was your closest, dearest friend withheld sharing something with you in favor of another person. I keep this lesson in mind because once the stakes get high a friend will know how to hide things from me because I would never suspect them of doing this. This is exactly what happened while romancing my first wife. She wanted me, even at the cost of withholding ‘deal killer’ information about her. I was oblivious.
A broken romance is better than a broken marriage. While I don’t fast track each new dating relationship, I do reach a point when I can actually ‘see’ a future with them or not. If the future looks bright and chemistry exists I may choose to amp it up, Fast Tracking it at that point. The ride is amazing even if the end result is one of us jumping off. I count as some of my dearest friends those whom I’ve been on the Fast Track with because, at least for a time, we shared a vision of what the two of us could be together.
I’ve Fast Tracked two relationships since my second divorce (7 of 7 now folks), both ended without marriage of course and I consider both situations a victory for that reason. Since life is so short, isn’t it better to find out the important stuff sooner than later?
Everyone has a choice on the Fast Track, to ride or not. Ain’t love grand!
Thanks for reading this far.