I met Ramona in Vegas.
We only spent a couple hours together the night we met. Yet, neither of us had ever connected so deeply with another human being in such a short period of time.
We didn’t even have an actual conversation until I called her a few weeks later. I was so nervous, I felt like I was back in middle school calling a crush for the first time. I invited her to come down to San Diego the next week.
All the giddy little school kids in the world had nothing on me the morning she arrived. She went in for the kiss, and I awkwardly hugged her. I stumbled over my words. I couldn’t even hold eye contact with her.
I finally managed to relax, and the rest of the day couldn’t have gone any better. I loved being with her, and yet, I was uncomfortable being myself around her. Her presence made me want to be more than just myself.
A week later, she came to see me while I was in Los Angeles, and we went out to a bar with some friends. I was suffering from a cough, and without so much as a hint from me, she got up and returned a few minutes later with drinks for us. Smiling, she said, “I asked the bartender to make you something for your throat.”
It was such a simple gesture, but it meant the world to me.
Later that week, I went to see her, and while we were lying in bed, those three little words almost slipped out.
Whoa. At this point, I was afraid I might be falling faster than she was, so I backed off. I decided I’d try to get her to chase me. Because back then, I still thought that if a woman were interested in me, she would pursue me, too, right?
Unfortunately, she didn’t. And the longer we continued to see each other, the more often I asked myself, “How can she tell me she’s never felt this way around someone before and yet never call me or text me to chat or make plans? Why am I always the one initiating those things? Why am I always the one chasing!?”
From then on, things between us were rocky. We never fought. We just gave each other a few weeks of space each time one of us thought the other didn’t care. I could never tell how she really felt about me, and she could never tell how I really felt about her.
Months later, she suggested that we sit down and talk. Of course, I knew why.
Everything always felt perfect when we were together. And that evening was almost no different. She was hesitant at first, but eventually the words escaped:
“I don’t want to enter into a relationship knowing it won’t last.”
Won’t last? How could she possibly know it won’t last?
Because I literally told her it wouldn’t.
For the six months we were seeing each other, I did nothing but reinforce the idea in her head that I didn’t want anything more than to see her on a casual basis. I was trying to get her to chase me, and all it did was make her think I didn’t care about her. On top of that, I told her that although I wanted to be with her, I only saw relationships as temporary life experiences to help me learn more about myself.
Good job, self. You’re an idiot.
Deep down, however, I knew that if I were to be in a relationship with her, it would last. And that scared me. I didn’t want to give up my single life. But I never considered what I’d be gaining and how worthwhile it might actually be.
I foolishly argued with her that evening, not comprehending that she had already made her decision. She left that night, reluctantly and in tears, but I’ll never forget what she said to me:
“I’m truly happy around you. That’s why I don’t want it to be temporary.”
I tried to sleep, but it had been a long time since I cried that hard. I didn’t think the tears would ever stop. I passed out and woke up an hour later, only to scramble for my phone, hoping to see a missed call, or a text message. Anything. I didn’t want to believe I just said goodbye to the only woman I’d ever cared so deeply for.
Three days later, I finally realized how madly in love with her I was. Even though it had been so obvious to my friends, I thought it was too ridiculous to be true. I had told her that the night she brought me those two drinks was when I realized I really liked her. But I was lying, to her and to myself. That wasn’t the night I realized I really liked her. That was the night I fell for her.
I took a few days to think about what I wanted to say, woke up early one morning, and drove up to see her. My plan was to make myself completely vulnerable to her, in hopes that she would let her guard down and allow herself to feel the same way. She agreed to see me, and she heard me out. But after everything was said, she sat there, confused. She told me she had no idea I felt that way about her. She didn’t understand how she could have such amazing chemistry with a guy, yet go weeks without hearing anything from him.
Regardless, she was happy to see me and asked me to spend the rest of the day with her. On the outside, I calmly obliged. On the inside, I was celebrating as if I had just gotten down on one knee and she had said yes.
I was the happiest guy on the face of the planet when I woke up the next morning and found her in my arms. I finally gave it my all, and it paid off.
Or so I thought.
She asked me to give her some time to explore her feelings. She never let herself get too attached to me, so she wasn’t sure how she felt anymore.
Two weeks later, I received the call. She told me what I had already prepared myself to hear, but was still terrified to face.
It was over.
I may always consider Ramona “the one that got away.” But in the end, my experience with her helped me to understand how I fucked up so bad. The deeper I fell in love with her, the more I held back. And the more I held back, the harder she tried not to get attached. She never knew just how special she was to me until it was too late, until her feelings had long since faded.
I know now that those women worth keeping in my life, the women worth exhausting every last effort to be with, are the same women who won’t sit around and wait for me to stop playing my games.
So from now on…
If I am interested, I will pursue her.
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