‘Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder…’ Thoreau
A little flashback to jog your memories – this past January and February, I participated in Five in Five, a dating experiment (if you will) encouraging singles to go on five dates in five weeks by meeting people through friends, work colleagues and social skydiving rather than internet dating or staying home alone. The initiative raised funds for the homeless and gave young singles the opportunity to try meeting someone new, without the pressure or stereotypes associated with dating.
I went on my five dates, whimsically naming them after celebrities to protect their privacy (and for my own personal amusement) and documented the happenings for you to share (visit week one, week two, week three, week four and week five to catch up).
Following the final date, and still finding myself single, I discovered the quote by Thoreau and wrote about Happily Ever After and just what that meant to me. I was happy with my single status. I was going to use the example set by Five in Five and go on more dates. I would essentially ‘stop’ looking for the happiness that comes from being in a relationship, and focus more on the happiness that comes from just being me and spending time with wonderful people and learning.
And then, without any warning, pre-conceived notions or ideas, love found me. All on its own.
Maybe I was too busy with work, perhaps I was more focused on finding five dates in five weeks, but whatever the reason – my attention was turned to other things and all of a sudden there was a butterfly sitting on my shoulder.
The stereotypes are apparently true. You will find love when you stop looking. Where you least expect it. When you most need it. Your mother was right all along. It will be with someone you were friends with first. It won’t be the Disney fairytale you imagined, but it will be a fairytale. Forget everything you have seen in romantic comedies – the reality is (seemingly) harder to achieve but the results are so much better.
So here is the summary. And in order to protect his privacy (apparently I am not meant to be using our life as material for articles) and in keeping with the theme of naming my beaus after celebrities, let’s call him Prince Charming. This is my fairytale after all.
I met Prince Charming in November, through a mutual friend, when I happened to be at a work function and had checked in at the venue on social media. A mutual friend noticed we happened to be at the same venue, phone calls were placed and introductions made. Before we knew it, our impromptu party of five was bar hopping to Richmond where we made quite the night of it. On a school night no less. (Those unplanned nights are the best, aren’t they?) Needless to say, the following morning many emails were exchanged noting the headaches and tiredness that resulted.
Weeks of group coffee catch ups, brunches, drinks and endless emailing followed, and by Christmas, our little friendship group was solid. After all, you can never have too many friends, right?
By my birthday in February, we were catching up less as a group and more one on one – yet they were still just friendly get togethers. I was five-in-fiving every week and work was as busy as ever. Seeing Prince Charming was a stress free, calming presence in my life – he listened to my concerns about my work hours and general neurosis and went out running with me after dark when I needed to clear my head.
And then, just like that, somewhere between learning about each other’s thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears, over coffee or brunch, or maybe a lap of the lake, we realised that maybe we were more than friends. That when Prince Charming went home, we continued to text, or talk on the phone, until we saw each other again. That we were spending more time together, than apart.
While Prince Charming and I continued on for a little while, protecting our bubble of happiness by keeping it to ourselves, we fell into a relationship. I discovered the Disney fairytale of dates and flowers and gushiness doesn’t exist – but what does is so much better.
That feeling when something good happens and you want to call him right away. The feeling of wishing you didn’t have to go out with your girlfriends or your family on any given night because you would rather be at home with him. Watching his football team play more than your own, because it still means spending time together.
By the time we started telling our friends and families we were together, we had been ‘dating’ for two months. And then just to mix it up a bit (because people were not happily surprised enough) we moved in together after just three months.
So five months on and I’ve crammed a decade into half a year. While I spent close to ten years worrying about never finding the one, I’ve discovered that no movie you will ever see, no book you will ever read, will help whatsoever when it comes to the real thing. Everyone’s story is different and every person unique – there is no rulebook, instruction manual or guide you can study that will make how this happens any easier. There is no right or wrong.
When it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. Call it fate, or destiny, or what you will – but one thing is for certain: it seems Thoreau was right. I found my happily ever after.
PS In addition to meeting my Prince, I also met several wonderful girls through shared Five in Five experiences who have become wonderful friends. To the three girls in particular who shared my journey offline, and have continued to be confidants and are always available for laughs, drinks and general mayhem, thank you for being fabulous. I hope that the four of us live happily ever after.
Image credit: Kathryn Sprigg