So much has happened since last year, relationship-wise, and it struck me that as thankful as I am for what has happened, I'm equally thankful for everything that didn't.
That's right, I'm thankful for that bad date that left me shaking my head, for those terribly dull IM chats and for that awful phone call that left me wanting to fall asleep.
I'm thankful to all of the "almosts" and "not quites" that I've experienced this year; after all, if I hadn't experienced those, I never would have found my way down this twister path to my beshert.
There is a great line in the movie "Because I Said So," when not too geeky to be hot Tom Everett Scott is asked why he is still single. He replies with the standard "Just haven't met the right girl" line, but then adds "There are a lot of great 'almosts' out there ..."
Everyone out in the dating world has met or has been an "almost." The differences between "almosts" and "beshert" are subtle, sometimes taking months or even years to be discovered. It's like someone else making your mom's Thankgiving turkey recipe. It tastes good, but is just not quite the same as how your mom makes it. There are subtle differences, some nearly untraceable, but to the sensitive person they are there, sitting and waiting to be discovered.
Being an "almost" is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, most "almosts" are really great people. People with whom, for a portion of time, you saw yourself for the long run; you envisioned your happily ever after -- dating, vacations, weddings, kids.... You imagined your life around this person. And things were great, for a while. But then those little missing ingredients started becoming more and more apparent -- little details that started to tear things apart.
I dated my "almost" for more than a year and a half. We dated, we laughed, and we fell in love; he braved the family seders, and I vacationed with his friends. He welcomed in the High Holy Days with us, and I experienced my first Christmas eve with his friends and pseudo-family. But then, little by little, things started to change. The details of life started to overwhelm the happy relationship that we had had for so long.
The most difficult part of dating an "almost" is the time when you start to recognize that's what it is. It's really a three-part process -- the realization, the battle, then, lastly, the acceptance. The acceptance is by far the hardest part; it takes courage and a crazy amount of strength to tell yourself -- as well as your "almost" -- that things just aren't working. As they say in the song, "breaking up is hard to do ..." And when you are breaking up with an "almost," it can be devastating. It's so scary to let go of something that has become bigger than just the relationship -- friends, shared activities, weekend jaunts, all your memories with your "almost" become tainted. It's so hard to be so close to something you've always wanted, only to realize that it isn't meant to be.
However, the uplifting thing about an "almost" is the realization that there are good people out there, that if someone exists who is so close to your ideal, then your ideal might be just around the corner. Dating an "almost" gets you primed; you've experienced how good life can be, and now you are aware of those key ingredients that need to be properly measured. That extra bit of laughter, that dash of silliness, and that little pinch of understanding, all of those things you learned from your "almost." As time passes, the memories that you built with your "almost" lose their tainted nature, and you can once again smile at them. Life changes, and before you know it, you walk around the corner and into the arms of your "beshert," and all you can wish for is that all of your "almosts" will find theirs as well. So while I'm sitting around with my family this Thanksgiving, I'll be sure to add a silent thank you to all of my "almosts," as they helped me find what I've been searching for.
Caroline Cobrin is a freelance writer living in Van Nuys. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.