This wasn’t supposed to happen.
At least, this is not how I envisioned things happening. I’m not supposed to be engaged now. I’m not supposed to be in love. I’m not supposed to be planning a life with someone. I’m not supposed to not be able to envision a future without her in it. But I am engaged. I am in love. I am planning a life with someone. And I am uninterested in envisioning a future without her in it.
None of this was supposed to happen because I’m supposed to be single now. At least, that is what I told myself two years ago. Newly single, I planned on remaining single. I didn’t have a set amount of time to stay single—doing that would have felt too arbitrary and inauthentic—but I knew I did not want to be in a serious relationship again any time soon.
Why? Well, the best and most attractive part about being single is the most obvious. You’re single. Which means you’re free. Often, the activity that can be a product of this freedom is touted as the best part about being single. I disagree. The freedom itself is the best part. The ability to do whatever, whenever, however. And with whoever. Or not. Freedom isn’t dating multiple women. Or eating cereal for dinner. Or staying out until four every weekend. Freedom is just the freedom to do these things if you choose to.
This freedom is intoxicating without any of the side effects associated with intoxicants. There is absolutely no downside to it. None. People often blame bad decisions on freedom. Which is silly. Freedom doesn’t make you do anything. If it did, it wouldn’t be freedom. Freedom doesn’t cause anything. It just is. Blaming freedom for bad decisions is like blaming oxygen for asphyxiation.
This freedom is why I get why some people choose to stay single longer than society would like to dictate. It’s also why, for many of us, the common narratives about why people in our generation (men and women) are choosing to stay single longer than our parents and grandparents did seem all wrong. It’s not about a fear of commitment. Or narcissism. Or selfishness. Or even a lack of love. It’s just that, for many of us, a “free” life equals a better one. The benefits of love and companionship are known, valued, and appreciated. The benefit of being free are just valued and appreciated more.
Anyway, I dated a few women during this free period. I even grew to like one of them very much. Very, very much. So much that when I learned I wasn’t prepared to give up that freedom for her, I started to think it would never happen. I was fine with that. As I said, I planned on remaining single and staying free. But I also planned on not liking anyone that much, and when I did and still felt the urge to be free, I figured this commitment to freedom was for real.
And it was.
Until she happened.
And when she happened, I no longer felt that urge to be free. There was no ambivalence. No second thoughts. No pulling away. No anything else but her.
We were friends. Great friends. Best friends, actually. And then, we were no longer just friends. I know that sounds too simple. And I debated adding details to give the story more meat. To make it more realistic. But that would just obscure the suddenness and the violence of how it happened. One day I was alive. And then the next day the rest of my life began.
I was free before her. But now my life is better. This isn’t a knock on freedom. I was happy. Very happy. Freedom is unbelievable. Freedom is fucking great. It’s just that she’s just so much better than it.
I proposed November 30th. We’ve been together for a year now, which is how long we’ve both known how much we both wanted each other. The ring is just a way to let everyone else know.
None of this was supposed to happen. I thought I knew what I wanted. But it is happening. And I thank God I was wrong.
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)