Starting Over…Again—by Jamie Levine

After eight months of dating, I finally mustered up the guts to call “gym guy” my boyfriend, and the moment I let down my guard and relaxed, he decided to call it quits. He claimed we were in different places and wanted different things, but after hearing him tell me for months how scared he was by the intensity of his feelings for me, I knew the truth: He was a coward and he ran away.

I’ve been in this place before. It seems I have a knack for dating noncommittal men who surprise themselves by falling hard for me and opening up to me, and as soon as I reciprocate and begin to “fall in love with their potential,” they bolt. I should have known gym guy would follow suit. And now that he’s gone, I realize the things I loved most about him are the characteristics he tried the hardest to hide: his honest, doting, vulnerable side—the parts of his personality he showed me at the deepest, most intense point of our relationship, when we spent the greatest amount of time together and when I felt the closest to him. Ironically, the person he likes to show most of the world is a person I’m not as fond of; I mean, that person isn’t exactly a creep—he is a fun, likeable guy who is always making people laugh—but he’s also very self-consumed, and not the man with whom I fell in love, so since he’s the personality who’s around most of the time, I guess it is best our relationship is over. I want to be with a man who has the guts to hold on tight to me and not let go—and to always be himself. No matter how scary that is.

Despite my acceptance of my break up, it’s not easy being single again. I hate starting over. I just spent countless years reinventing my career, and I’m finally getting paid to be a speech-language pathologist. Enough is enough. Why do I have to start over and begin dating again? And, after doing it for over 25 years already, when am I ever going to get it right? One thing’s for sure—I can’t ever let myself fall in love with someone for their “potential” again. And it’s time I start running first—if I get asked out by a noncommittal man.