Meant2Be: Till love do us part

Jessica and I realized from the start that ours was not a match made in romantic partner heaven.
October 20, 2016

Jessica and I realized from the start that ours was not a match made in romantic partner heaven. 

She had a prestigious, high-paying job; I was a struggling writer constantly scrambling for work. She lived in a beautiful home in the hills, with a swimming pool and luxury car; I drove a used Ford Taurus and got a break on my humble apartment’s rent by doing assorted managerial tasks for the owner. While she loved having deep discussions about weighty topics, theater, opera, and sharing innermost thoughts and feelings, I was more into popular culture and keeping things light, comedic and on the surface.

Jessica proposed that since we were so different, and obviously not each other’s soul mates, but liked each other nonetheless, why not love the one we’re with — date each other regularly while we continued searching for our true matches? And as soon as one of us met someone where intimacy was about to occur, we’d inform the other so as to end our arrangement. 

Regular romance while looking for one’s soul mate? Suggested by the woman in the relationship? Where do I sign?

As the months passed, neither of us ever brought up the initial agreement, nor did we refer to meeting or dating others. Our agreement just bided its time in the back of our minds. 

Then, about nine months into my relationship with Jessica, I met Sarah. Among her other wonderful qualities, Sarah laughed out loud and frequently at my jokes, which of course is catnip for any comedy writer. While my relationship with Jessica was pleasant, secure and affectionate, the one with Sarah awakened my heart and energized my soul.

I envisioned informing Jessica about Sarah, and Jessica responding, “Oh, thank God. This makes it that much easier for me to let you know about my relationship with Bobby.” Or something along those lines.

What I never anticipated was Jessica’s actual response: tears. I was stunned to discover that Jessica did not want me to leave. She was not dating anyone, she hadn’t even been looking to date anyone. She had grown to love me and wanted me to stay.

I reminded her of our initial agreement, which I added, was her suggestion in the first place.

And then, Jessica surprised me again by sweetening the deal, as it were. She told me she had visions of us living together as a couple, traveling the world. She’d pay for everything and support my writing career. I could just stay home and write, without having to worry about bills or a day job.

Oh, man! One woman tempts me with passion and laughter; the other with lifelong financial security and international travel. I felt like I was living that old Mary MacGregor song, “Torn Between Two Lovers.” I had to make a choice. This was a life-changing decision. Either way, someone was going to get hurt.

I had visions of my future life with Jessica. We’d be in some charming little flat in Paris. I’d be working on my Great American Novel while she read the works of Victor Hugo on the sofa. Off in the distance, a street musician would play “La Vie en Rose” on the accordion. We’d wander down to dinner at one of Paris’ intriguing cafes in the Latin Quarter. Rent?  Job search?  Credit card late payment fees? Things of the past! My main responsibility would be to love Jessica. It didn’t take a genius to see the appeal.

Visions of my future life with Sarah appeared next. We’d travel and take trips, but they’d mostly be local. I could still be a writer, but the writing would have to be done at night and on weekends, wedged in around my day job to pay the bills. And yet, there was no denying that with Sarah, I’d have nonstop, passionate, full-throttle love and laughter.

And there it was. I decided that those were the things I didn’t want to live without, couldn’t live without.

Did I have any regrets about leaving Jessica? Honestly, yes, from time to time. Especially when things got tight financially. But those regrets became short-lived when I considered Sarah’s priceless laughter and love, allowing us to cue “La Vie en Rose” as the two of us slow danced under a streetlight, and she adjusted my Canter’s Deli baseball cap to the perfect angle, in the romantic Fairfax District of Los Angeles.

(Update: As much as I love romantic fairy- tale endings, mine turned out to be short-lived; Sarah and I split up after 4 1/2 years. We’re still friends, but that’s another story. Cue, this time, Nat King Cole’s version of “When I Fall in Love.”)

Mark Miller, a former Jewish Journal dating columnist, has been a writer/producer on numerous TV sitcom staffs. His first book is a collection of humor essays, “500 Dates: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Online Dating Wars.” 

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