02.15.24 Publisher’s Desk

I used to try too hard in relationships. I mean really over the top try too hard. I don’t blame myself, though. I blame the movies and Air Supply’s music.

I described this in an article before, but I was a total sap. I loved the idea of a perfect love story, so much so that an ex once told me I was impossible to date because actual life wasn’t like it is in the movies. I didn’t believe him and I tried for years to prove otherwise.

I assume this is why, on more than one occasion a one-night stand turned into a long-term relationship. This is not a dig towards any of my exes, I just wanted a love story so bad I would try to force something to exist that probably should have never existed.

I once thought it was cute to celebrate the monthiversary of every month for the first year of dating someone. Sure, this sounds cute in a movie or a high school, but it was not appreciated in this relationship. Nor did I appreciate that he was out drinking while I was at home waiting for hours with rose petals on the bed.

I tend to reminisce about this around Valentine’s Day. A few years back I had a bit of a breakthrough/breakdown when it came to unreciprocated displays of affection. It was an unusual Valentine’s Day that started by attending a wedding. It was the wedding of Orlando Weekly writer Billy Manes, who would later become the editor of Watermark.

I had enlisted the help of my roommate to decorate the house with too many ballons, too many bears holding hearts and too many cards. This is back when I was a drinker, so I had a few at the wedding. As the drinks began to settle in, I found myself tearing up at the vows shared between Billy and his fiancé Tony. It was beautiful and the love between them was incredible.

I started to look at my boyfriend and think about the surprise waiting for him at the house. I listened to their words, stared at my boyfriend and began to question everything. I didn’t feel like the work I was putting into the relationship was reciprocated. So, why was I putting so much work into it? It was becoming clear to me that I was playing a part in a movie that I thought I should play, trying to find someone who would treat me the way I thought I should be treated.

It wasn’t adding up.

We left the wedding and went to Barcodes with Watermark employee, Danny Garcia. At this point I was drunk, upset and not at my best. I bizarrely bought the three of us assless outfits from the store there so we could change out of our suits and look ridiculous playing pool. And we did.

On the way home it came out that I had the house decorated to surprise him and he hadn’t even gotten me a card. This isn’t an attempt to drag him, just to show the contrast. I was not happy nor in the right frame of mind to handle it like an adult. When we got home I popped all the balloons and threw the decorations away.

Within a month we were no longer dating, and within seven months I was sober. I took some time to work on myself and didn’t date anyone for three years.

I was able to see that my behavior up to this point was designed to show people how I wanted to be treated in the hopes that they would treat me the same way. It was an attempt to control people, something the 12 steps taught me I couldn’t do.

Then I met Dylan Todd. I wish I could tell you that I didn’t come on too strong, but that would be a lie. I managed to sustain my sappiness. What I can tell you is that this time I did it because I really liked him, not to force him to like me. Luckily for me it didn’t scare him off.

When you are lucky enough to find the right person, it just clicks. Relationships take work, but it shouldn’t feel like work all the time. Dylan is my person. He keeps me calm when I start to spiral and shows me everyday how much I am loved.
Now instead of trying to direct my own movie, I can simply relax and star in it. It’s the role of a lifetime.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Dylan. And Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you.

We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.

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