Ex-Factor Project: Cool Dude – Part 1
To review what the Ex-Factor Project is about, you can read the introduction here.
Well, first profile up on the project is CoolDude. We had known each other for a long time before we even started dating. He worked with a lot of my friends as well as friends with LloydGuy’s friends at a grocery store that happened to be smack dab in between both of our towns. We still had some mutual friends when I eventually ran into him into an iconic dive bar about a year after I had been back in town for a year after college. We had seen each other experience relationships before and we knew all of the guilty (and non-guilty parties). For some reason, that night, since I guess I had moved back to our hometown, and the “epic” fairytale that was LloydGuy and myself, he had assumed we were still together.
When I told him how crushingly that had eventually ended, I expected pity and sentiments that he understood how hard it must be. But instead, he said, “Well, you were too good for him, but I know it must have been hard to let go after all this time. I always hoped you would be single again someday, though.” I smiled and wasn’t sure how to react so simply asked why he would say any of that. He shook his head and stated, “Because. You are beautiful, smart, and funny. And, although you are too good for me, too, I want to take my chance.” I was sitting there in shock. I never had any clue he ever thought about me in the least. I told him I was flattered and he convinced me he was serious and asked me out on a date. I agreed, but I also worried about how all of our mutual friends and groups would take it. There were some hurt feelings that lingered with some people, and I was unsure how everyone would react to us even going on one date.
But even on that first date, everything was just so comfortable and easy. The familiarity and trust we had already established as friends and knowing so much about each other (good and bad) seemed to just make everything click. We had seen one another at what we thought was our happiest, and we had seen each other get our hearts absolutely decimated and broken beyond what we thought was repairable. Yet, we were both brave enough to take a chance once again. Our relationship was very strong and surprisingly supported by most of our friends. Things seemed like they would work out.
After I moved to Maryland, a few months later, we were prepared to work it out long-distance because we both believed we had something special together. We would try to see each other as much as we could and figure out the future later. We just both knew we were not ready to end our great relationship. He helped me move, riding with me as we pulled the trailer with all of my belongings south of the Mason-Dixon Line. He stayed with me that entire week, helping me to get settled and enjoying getting to know my new town with me. He had only gone back home for about three days when he said that he didn’t want to have a girlfriend in another state. My heart sank. I think I almost immediately exclaimed, “What do you mean? I thought we talked about all of this. I thought we were on the same page!”
There was a pause on his end until I heard him laugh quietly and say “I’m not breaking up with you, silly. I have decided that I want to move down there, too.” He had seen a good job that he wanted in Columbia, and already had a phone interview scheduled. We had the typical talk – don’t do it for just me, are you sure you want this, etc., and he eventually convinced me that it was the right thing for him. We were smart and did not move in together, but just wanted to be near each other to try to make things work, even though our relationship was never our main motivation for relocation. It felt very healthy. We both worked retail at the time, so the only full day we could always manage to schedule off to spend time together was Sundays. But those Sundays were magical. We would usually get up early and just get in the car and drive around, trying to get “lost” so that we could discover hidden gems of our new town, and just enjoying our conversations and observations of our new surroundings. At night, we would curl up together and compare notes about our new community. It always felt like this adventure belonged to both of us, even though we still managed not to rely too heavily on each other for our survival. We had our own lives, but sharing them felt special and important. And we loved it.