Love or Something Like It

I went to a wedding this weekend. There’s something about weddings that makes me want to track down all the people I’ve ever been in love with, or even all the people I just thought I was in love with, and tell them that I’m sorry for all the ways I wronged them, or that I forgive them for all the ways they wronged me. There’s a brief moment during every wedding ceremony when I start thinking I should get back together with all of them: everyone I’ve ever broken up with, everyone who’s ever broken up with me, everyone where we’re not sure who broke up with who. I imagine tracking them down one by one and asking each of them if they’re sure. Are you sure you don’t have any second thoughts about breaking up? Are you sure you made the right decision marrying that guy you met after me? Are you sure you’re really a lesbian?

I was an incorrigible romantic as a kid, even before I had hormones. As a teenager I came up with a bunch of creative proposal ideas without even really meaning to—I don’t even believe in grand proposals, philosophically speaking, but coming up with ideas for them is still fun. Between the ages of 12 and 22 all it took for me to fall in love with someone was thirty seconds staring at the back of their neck in class. And occasionally they would even turn around and fall in love with me back.

But then I graduated and entered Adult World and all of a sudden there were a million women I could date for fifteen minutes each and the possibility was so intoxicating that it took me way too long to realize it had never been what I wanted in the first place. When I finally lifted my head up, falling in love somehow wasn’t as easy as it had been before. Maybe I was older and wiser—or maybe I was just out of practice.

One side effect of writing this newsletter is that any woman I go on more than three dates with asks to read it. Sometimes that feels uncomfortably intimate, but how can I tell someone I’m dating that she can’t read something I send to 500 strangers? Besides, at this point I might as well just put it all out there right away. I used to think of dating as a game that you won by getting the other person to like you as much as possible. But now I lead with my flaws, since the ones who like me anyway are the ones I hope stick around.

Besides, I’ve never been very good at knowing which parts of me are the ones other people like. Sometimes you spend so much time trying to hide the ugly bits, only to realize you were covering up the wrong things all along.

Yours in, well, I’m not sure,

Max