I am an empowered woman of the 21st century: I run a company, have a master’s degree and earn a handsome six-figure salary.
Yet at heart, I am and have always been a lover of old-fashioned romance.
There’s always been something very endearing to me about the idea of a man stepping up to claim me. It makes me feel special and cherished when someone makes an effort to win my heart, surprising me with flowers or jewelry or picking up the bill on a date — not because I can’t afford to pay for myself, but because he enjoys treating me.
I realized early on that this is how I wanted to date. I wanted to be courted. I wanted someone who would make an effort. I wanted a man who was willing to commit and offer me a ring — without taking years to decide if I was the one for him.
So that’s what I set out to get when I first met my husband, Chris.
After eight weeks of dating, Chris wanted me to be his girlfriend. It was very clear that we liked each other, that there was attraction and compatibility, and for him, exclusivity was the natural next step. But I thought his offer was weak.
With me as his girlfriend, he would get full access to me. He would sleep in my bed, lean on me for emotional support, show me off to his friends and enjoy my company at family gatherings. That would all be very nice, but it wouldn’t give me any assurance about the future, which was what I needed to feel safe. The offer I wanted included a proposal and being told I would forever be his one and only.
In his defense, you might ask, ‘How could he know so soon? He needs time to get to know you.’ That’s exactly my point. Why should I shut down all my options while someone “tests drives” me? I know many women don’t mind that risk — and often want the trial period with a potential partner themselves — I hold no judgment against them. But that path wasn’t for me. My past experience had taught me that once in the girlfriend zone, I started to hope the relationship would lead to marriage. And every time it didn’t, I got my heart broken.
So when Chris asked me to be his girlfriend, I refused. I told him I really liked him, but I didn’t want to be exclusive. I would continue dating him while also spending time with other men. And if things started to get serious with someone else, I would let him know — but I made sure he understood I didn’t plan on being any man’s girlfriend, so he didn’t think my refusal was just about him. My philosophy: May the best man win.
Lo and behold, the best man did win — and he turned out to be Chris.
After nine months of seeing me, Chris got down on one knee with the most gorgeous diamond and sapphire ring I’d ever seen and told me he couldn’t imagine his life without me. Today, we’re blissfully married and have been blessed with a healthy baby boy. I have everything I ever wanted.
We often sit together and laugh about how hard it was for Chris to date a woman like me, but also how powerful an experience I had created for him. He says I inspired him to dig deeper into his heart to consider whether I was the right person for him. Other women before me had been much easier to date, but they never forced him to think about settling down. And, he confesses, he was scared another man would sweep me off my feet if he didn’t gather his guts and commit.
Was all this easy for me? Hell, no. It pushed me way beyond my comfort zone. There were times when it was hard to believe there could be a man on the planet who would gladly accommodate me. A part of me feared my experiment might fail and leave me alone and heartbroken again. And yet, it felt so empowering to stick to what I wanted in love, to be able to articulate it, to draw boundaries — and, for once, not to care about what made a man happy, but what made me happy.