On Love (Part 3)

This is the third post in a three-part series. You may wish to see On Love and On Love (Part 2) for context.

After writing down the last post, I made a list of changes (all of which had to do with my social skills) and tried to implement them. Most importantly, I worked up the courage to ask a friend out on a date.

What I had once thought impossible, happened - I got into a relationship with an intelligent, mature, passionate, and beautiful person.

By some twist of fate, we had both been deprived of emotional and physical intimacy for roughly the same long time, albeit for very different reasons. Perhaps that is why we were both so exceedingly affectionate with each other. Each day we spent together was better than the last.

On our second date, we remarked how both of us had periods of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts - and how, had we succeeded, we would never be here today, holding hands as we cozily sat side-by-side in a restaurant.

An interesting part of it is the aspect of self-esteem. I used to think that getting dates would boost it (although I phrased it in very different terms - "If only I got dates, it would prove that I'm attractive and worthy!")…but what happened was exactly the opposite - I improved my self-esteem first, and that gave me the optimism1 It is common among intellectual circles to consider optimism to be a sign of naivete. I had unwittingly absorbed this propaganda over the years. Fortunately, having exposure to some optimistic people in theatre circles helped me realized that optimism actually provides a kind of emotional resilience, which results in optimists being able to overcome odds where "realists" give up. necessary to ask someone out. The other person reciprocating my affection only served to reinforce the self-esteem, but even if I were to be rejected, the optimism was enough to keep it from affecting me negatively.

I also discovered further proof that I was mistaken about my evaluation of my appearance - my partner told me that their colleagues all found me attractive when I first met them. As I guessed, it was just a matter of asking someone out.

The relationship ended amicably a few months later, due to circumstances beyond our control.

Still, I was content. I often describe my previous relationship (in college) as one where "I messed up everything that one could mess up" - in this one, however, I'm satisfied with the knowledge that I spared no effort to make it work. I'm also proud of handling the breakup in a vastly better way than my college-time relationships.

I'm glad I was able to become such a positive part of somebody's life. Likewise, it was great to be appreciated and respected to such a rare degree. It has become one of the happiest and most comforting memories of my life.