He’s the one. You just know it.
When he smiles at you, you feel your heart flutter. As you talk, it feels like you’re the only one he can hear. He’s absorbed in you, and he tells you how you’re his whole world.
Conversations between the two of you are witty and captivating. He has a mysterious, interesting quality that you just can’t get enough of. And when you tell him about yourself, he gives you his full attention.
You’re flattered and complimented. Your wish is his command. You tell yourself that you’ve never felt a love like this, and that you’re sure you’ve found your “happily ever after” – your soulmate and forever friend.
You’re on cloud nine, and things are looking up.
Then, you notice that some things begin to change. Not all at once, like a flash of lightning that streaks across a dark sky. It happens gradually, signaled by low, menacing rumbles of thunder.
It’s not something you see immediately, but instead it’s a foreboding that you begin to sense just a little too late.
Some days, he doesn’t seem quite as interested in what you have to say. He begins to interrupt, and changes the topic to something else. You figure that he’s just opening up more and has more to say since you’ve grown so close.
When you’re on a dinner date, you catch his gaze wandering around the restaurant. At first, you think it’s because he’s trying to capture the memories by taking in the scenery of romantic moments. But something tugs at you especially as his gaze lingers on the waitress.
Again, you tell yourself that he’s becoming more comfortable around you, and that this is really a positive thing. The two of you must be bonding.
I mean, you’re still the center of his attention, right?
A week later, you reiterate how you don’t enjoy going to bars. You’ve mentioned this to him dozens of times, but on tonight’s date as you pull into a parking lot, you see a bar sign in neon lights. After reminding him of your feelings on the issue, he sputters, “Oh, I forgot. We’ll just stay for a little while. You don’t mind, right?” Of course, you want to prove your love to him. You think that maybe you’re just being picky and that you really need to be reading your Bible more and repenting of this selfishness. You walk into the bar with him.
On another evening, he scans you up and down as you walk down the stairs. “Are you really going to wear that?” He raises an eyebrow. You glance down at your burgundy dress with a keyhole neckline and lace sleeves. To smooth things over, you hurry to change your clothes.
“I’m glad that he’s finally honest about his taste in clothes. That must mean we’re past the honeymoon phase,” you think. Still, you can’t seem to push away a twinge of sadness as you slip off your favorite dress.
A month passes and you don’t know what happened.
Nowadays, when you talk to him, you feel saddened instead of encouraged. You seem to talk less often. He either stops asking to spend time with you or he wants all of your attention – especially if you plan to spend some time with friends.
Your heart feels unsettled, but you can’t identify the cause. You assume it’s because the both of you “just aren’t connecting lately.” You find yourself self-examining, wondering what you’ve done wrong.
“I must be missing what he needs. I’ll try to be less clingy.” You feel your anxiety and confusion building as you try to unwind twisted thoughts. You try to anticipate his needs and feelings, afraid of feeling inadequate when you fail to see what he wants ahead of time.
Then one day, you break. You confront him, explaining that you’ve felt hurt and afraid. You’re met with a mix of biting anger and subtle condescension as you hear that you’re really the reason he’s been annoyed and that if you would just “shape up,” things would be okay.
But things aren’t okay. You hear your mind mumble something that you never thought you would think.
“If this is happily ever after, I don’t want it.”
How does someone so charming, intuitive, and attractive become the reason that a woman finds herself damaged, alone, and confused?