It's not just a Bachelorette fantasy. It happened for me, too.

By Jen Kirsch
Oct 26, 2020 @ 11:50 am
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Credit: KELLY CHIELLO/INSTYLE.COM/ABC

When news broke that Clare Crawley, ABC’s Bachelorette, was backing out of the show’s production, #BachelorNation was baffled. As was I. Just 12 days into filming, she had fallen in love with contestant Dale Moss, and was no longer interested in the other men.

Not only am I a long-time fan of the series, but I’m also a seasoned dating and relationship columnist, podcaster, and on-air personality whose job it is to advise on how to navigate relationships. When I read the spoilers posted by Reality Steve at the end of August, and all the headlines that followed about the couple’s whirlwind relationship and engagement, I couldn’t help but wonder (hello, Carrie Bradshaw) how Crawley, 39, could fall in love at first sight, and be so sure about someone so early on in production. Especially, since there were so many others vying for her attention.

And then, a few days later, I found myself in an unexpected romantic situation that emulated hers. Gulp.

After embarking on a whirlwind romance of my own, I watched the two-hour premiere. This was my first time away from my new boyfriend since we met at an outdoor music venue six weeks earlier, and my phone was off the hook for the duration of the show. Notification after notification came in from friends and followers commenting on the uncanniness of our mutual storylines. And boy, was I aware. I found myself nodding my head in agreement and even clutching my heart anytime Crawley gushed about Dale, visibly lit up in his presence, or uttered sentences like, “When you know, you know.”

One thing I’ve noticed on the interwebs (what up, Twitter!) is how obvious it is to everyone that Crawley and Moss have that je ne sais quoi. That kinetic connection. That palpable attraction. That mutual admiration and respect for one another. I, too, had that certain something the moment I met my now-partner, and I have yet to meet someone that hasn’t commented on it. The chemistry is next level. It’s the most fulfilling feeling. It feels like home, at last. Clare and Dale are two adults with their own individual histories who have come together at the right time in their lives, better and ready for however their situation will unfold. Same goes for me and my boyfriend, who have gone through our own experiences in life and love separately, and are better for it — more aware of what we want and what we don’t. More able to notice the gift of what our surprise meeting has brought us.

For those who either don’t understand how two people can connect so deeply – to the extent that they feel the other person is the love of their life — within such a short period of time, I have two words to share with you and that can help guide you in being in an honorable relationship like this one: radical transparency.

Credit: Courtesy

What is radical transparency when it comes to romantic relationships? For me it has been showing up as myself in front of my partner, flaws and all. It is being purely authentic and genuine in my words and actions, no matter how vulnerable that makes me feel; how messy it might make me look. It is communicating with my partner in the moment when something bothers me (I could give y’all examples, but radical transparency within a committed relationship is all about trust and honoring each other's privacy.) All this is to say that any time discomfort arises in our relationship — warranted or not — I communicate that with him in a non-threatening way, coming from a place of loving kindness. A place of respect. 

It’s sharing our inner-most feelings without judgment and truly listening without reacting, so we both can develop a deeper bond, and not as a means to an end so either of us can get our way or “be right” (a nice feat considering my boyfriend is a Taurus!). It’s sharing our past, our fears, our boundaries, our expectations and being open to hearing theirs, day in and day out. It is loving without condition. It is honoring one another to share all of ourselves. And to be in a relationship of this kind is the most freeing feeling of all. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like myself because no longer am I paying mind to my ego or my insecurities. I no longer have that protective wall up because I am who I am and with the right person on the same page, they too can be who they are – together we do the work to lift one another up, to hold space for each other and to be accountable, come what may.

Before I met my boyfriend, I used a lot of my time in quarantine to reflect. I decided I am finally happy and full as an individual, at long last. I’m not claiming to be happy all the time (hello, anxiety and depression), but I have come to the place where I know my triggers and how to cope in a healthy way. At the time, just before my other half walked into my life, I was happy being single, meeting others, dating and being a general (Covid-safe) free-spirit.

You see, like Crawley, I’m in my late thirties and I, too, have dated many a dud. I dated guys who I either didn’t respect or care for, or guys who I wanted to save. I dated guys who would string me along. I dated guys who weren’t necessarily a match, but they were hot or cool or had some superficial trait my naive self found appealing, which made my ego think that I was, too. Looking back, I was anything but. I was weak. I depended on partners at various times for the wrong reasons, and I’m grateful for those experiences because I wouldn’t have done the work to understand who I am at the core and what I deserve: Love. Respect. Authenticity.

After years of therapy and reflection and healing (and tarot readings, and trauma work, and psychic visits and and and,) I came to a conclusion while quarantined: I’m happy alone. I appreciate my own company. I was surrounded by my favorite things — books, music, and time spent with those I love (in person or virtually, thanks to the pandemic). I came to the realization, finally,  that I don’t need a romantic partner. A husband. A love of my life. 

Until ... I met him.

As the summer neared its end, I was introduced to my now partner and I knew the minute we locked eyes (and held them for what seemed like a lifetime), that he was The One. An amazing thing happens when you treat yourself and the one you love with the utmost respect and with radical transparency; you end up inviting them in and creating a deeper bond than two living, loving humans can ever share. Now that’s a rose worth accepting!