If I'd Met My Husband This Year, We Probably Wouldn't Have Gotten Married

Jessica Wildfire

There's a lot of luck in love.


Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

Sometimes my husband tells me little secrets, things he’s ashamed to admit. For example, he fell into a mild depression before we met. Eager to show him how to love, his older sister tried to snap him out of it. “You’re sabotaging yourself,” she said one night.


“I don’t know,” she said. “You just are.”

Believe it or not, that didn’t help. Next she tried dragging him around to all her favorite bars and coffee shops, places he would never go on his own. She tried introducing him to her friends…

Still, nothing.

It’s almost like he was waiting for me to come into his life. At the time, I think I was eating churros on sidewalks in Madrid and crying myself to sleep, filled with anxiety about my future. If we’d met just a couple of months earlier than we did, I’m not sure what would’ve happened. Neither one of us was really in the right headspace for a relationship.

Love is like a joke I guess.

Timing counts for a lot, maybe everything.

There’s no real formula.

The truth is, I don’t think anyone really knows how to date. Back in my teens and 20s, it was never that easy to tell the difference between a date and hanging out with someone.

You just lived and met people, and took your chances. Sometimes you tried to avoid artificial scenarios like “dates.” You spent time with someone you found attractive until one night you were listening to records at their place, and you started making out on the couch.

People don’t like to hear that, though.

They want formulas and recipes. They want to remove the serendipity and the spontaneity. That’s how you wind up with cookie cutter advice, which isn’t field tested at all. It fails because it was dreamed up in a Hallmark lab by a bunch of marketers. They care more about selling stuff than putting people together and keeping them that way.

When it comes to the best relationship advice, so much of it really comes down to avoiding mistakes. Even if nobody knows how to date, we still know how to scare someone away.

Love takes improvisation in the moment.

Luck has a lot to do with it.

My husband and I didn’t meet through a dating app. We didn’t lock eyes from across the room at a bar. Our friends introduced us. They set us up. They were even the ones to suggest we get married. “You two are perfect for each other. You know that, right?”

At the end of the day, I’ve got to admit…

We got lucky.

We were lucky to have have friends, and we were lucky to meet at a relatively peaceful time in human history.

Love rides on serendipity and spontaneity. You make plans, but then you improvise. Things just seem to work out. Until they do, you just keep trying different things and making mistakes. You do life the best you can, and hope it runs into someone else’s life.

For some people, love just doesn’t work out. Nobody can explain why. The harder we try, the dumber we sound.

This year wasn’t so lucky.

Sure, it was technically possible to date this year. You had to put more thought into it, but you could’ve formed a little romantic quarantine bubble with someone if you really wanted to.

You just had to make sure they weren’t some anti-masker conspiracy theorist. You just had to constantly worry about accidentally exposing them to a virus if your coworkers didn’t wear their mask right.

Oh, and you just had to build up the emotional energy to make it through a cup of coffee without talking about death or politics.

That’s all…

Relationships are harder for everyone.

You can’t blame yourself for not finding someone.

Even those of us already in fulfilling relationships struggled a lot this year. We had to figure out how to love each other again, and to pretend like everything was normal enough to get through a few hours at a time. We had to completely rethink how we did everything.

If I were single, I don’t think I would’ve put a lot of energy into dating this year. I don’t think I would’ve had to capacity to start up any new relationships at all, romantic or otherwise.

I would’ve sat this year out.

It’s even hard to talk to friends.

This is going to be embarrassing, but I’ll tell you anyway. Right now, I’m not even sure I want to call up some of my very best friends.

These are people I’ve known for 10 and 15 years.

I’m debating.

I don’t know if I want to hear how their 2020 went. I’m not sure if they’ll want to know how mine did for that matter. I’m not sure if I can stand to pretend I’m in a decent mood for longer than I already have to, you know, with my own extended family.

I’m betting a lot of people feel the same right right now, or I’m hoping they do — because I don’t want to be weird.

It wasn’t your fault.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I’d tell someone like my husband, who’s been blaming themselves for their loneliness. It feels like there’s no advice to give and nothing to say. Nothing except, I’m sorry.

It wasn’t your fault.

You just had too much to deal with.

You weren’t just navigating the labyrinth of a quarantine dating scene. You were busy processing bad news on a scale we haven’t seen in a long time. Maybe you were wondering if the world that emerged from all this would be one where you even wanted to love at all.

It’s going to be tough for a while.

Sometimes optimism is just irritating. So let’s be honest, we all know dating hot spots aren’t just going to magically snap back next year. Behind every date, the ghost of the past will loom.

Dating is going to bring extra stress. Every time you kiss someone, every time you invite someone back to your place, you’ll be thinking about mortality and fate a little more than you would’ve been. It’s going to take just a little more energy to have a good time.

Love is harder now. And it’s going to be.

You deserve an apology, not more advice.

Just like my husband learned, dating advice feels like insult when it doesn’t take reality into view. You’ve probably had enough. Nobody really knows what they’re doing when it comes to love, which means we need lots of room to mess up and screw around.

Sadly, that’s exactly what we didn’t have. The spontaneity and serendipity that drive love is chained up right now. So if anything, maybe what you need isn’t advice, but an apology:

I’m sorry. It wasn’t your fault.

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