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#Delete by Sandi Lynn (1)

Eloise

Men. They all come from the big genetic whirlpool of douchebag central and their brains are all wired the same when it comes to women. More than half of them don’t even have life figured out, and the ones that do carry around baggage that is so over-packed the airlines would make a fortune off them. Do I sound bitter? Maybe I am. No, I know I am because growing up, the only thing I ever wanted was a relationship like the one my parents had. They’d been married twenty-seven years and were as in love with each other as the first day they met. They were a mirror for what a relationship should be. But as I found out, starting in my teenage years through my young adult life, my father was a rare find. One, who by some fate, escaped from the whirlpool of douchebag central.

Jerry and Anna’s relationship wasn’t perfect by any means. I mean, come on, is any relationship ever perfect? Is perfect or perfection even real? No, of course not, but their relationship was as close to perfect as it could be. To this day, my father still buys my mom flowers every Friday and tells her how much he loves her.

So there you have it. That was what I grew up seeing and believing. I believed that every man was like him and I’d meet the one who would sweep me off my feet and treat me like a queen, the way my father treated my mother. Growing up, I took pride in the fact that my parents were happy and stayed together when all my friends’ parents were divorcing.

I honestly didn’t think or expect men to be so fucking complicated. They’re like a big rubber band, stretching out towards what they think they want, then snapping back when things start to get too comfortable. I had a talk with my mom about this very thing and she couldn’t relate because she’d never experienced it. Lucky her. It was all I seemed to experience over the last, oh I don’t know, ten years of dating.

I had my first boyfriend at the age of fifteen. Did he really count? After all, his brain wasn’t anywhere near mature enough to comprehend relationships with girls. The only thing they focused on that young was how quickly they could get into our pants. They would do or say anything to make us swoon and eventually we’d give in and have sex. But that wasn’t me. I was nowhere near ready for sex at that age.

I waited until I was sixteen when I met “the one” and his name was Kyle Stone. We’d dated for a couple of months, had sex, and then he suddenly broke it off with me when the new girl, Taylor Bradford, transferred to our school. The devastation he left behind was unbearable. My first heartbreak, and we all know first heartbreaks are the hardest. We can’t even begin to comprehend what the hell happened, let alone question ourselves at what we did wrong. It took me over six months to get over Kyle and that kind of heartbreak was something I’d never forget.

After spending the next couple of years dating different guys and failing at any type of relationship, I gave up and went off to college, focusing on my passion: photography and writing. I was a natural. My father told me I was born with a camera in my hand. Silly man. I knew I wasn’t, but he said I had a gift at capturing people’s real emotions. People may lie about how they feel, but the camera never did. I could photograph the happiest of couples, but sometimes, their pictures told a different story. When I took countless pictures of my parents over the years, they still looked the same in every one of them, a reflection of their happiness and love. Okay, you get the point about my parents and how I was raised. My expectations were high, maybe too high and unrealistic.

While I was in college, I took on a job as an assistant to Gerard Truman, one of the greatest photographers in New York. He was edgy, cool, and had a great eye. He told me I had a promising future and he could see magazine shoots such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and even Time. I dated here and there in college but never would commit to any type of relationship. Ha, who was I kidding? It wasn’t me who couldn’t commit, it was the variety of boys—and yes, I said boys—I dated. After numerous rejections and totally feeling like a failure in the dating world, I decided to take a good look at myself. Maybe I was too needy. I didn’t think I was, and I certainly didn’t act like it. I was a strong, independent person, and neediness wasn’t a trait of mine. But, after the countless rejections, I began to think there was something wrong with me and that I was the problem, a cycle that went on throughout my college years before I discovered I knew better.

After I graduated, I got a job at a photography studio. But, working for someone else didn’t sit well with me, plus a studio setting wasn’t my thing. I felt trapped and my creative abilities felt stifled, so I decided to start my own freelance photography business. I updated my portfolio and pounded the streets of New York, showing off my work with the hopes it would catch the attention of someone, anyone who would hire me. I created a website and advertised on every social media platform I could find. Slowly, business started to trickle in, and with the help of my event planner friend, Natalie, I photographed birthday parties, anniversary parties, weddings, and any other event she was hired for. Word about my work spread, a couple small magazine companies hired me, and after a year of getting my business off the ground and making decent money, I was able to move out of my parents’ home and into an apartment of my own. I not only had the income from my photography business, but I also earned money monthly from my blog: “The Dating Adventures of Eloise.” It was fun, sassy, and all me. Women loved to hear about my failed relationship after relationship because they could relate and somehow it didn’t make them feel so alone.

I was twenty-three years old, an entrepreneur, and I lived on my own. My life was great, but I still felt like something was missing. And that something was a man/relationship. I had a lot to offer and why wouldn’t I want to share that with someone special? I was independent, had my own business and my own money. After taking a brief hiatus from the dating world, I was ready to dive into it again. How bad could it be? I was older now and the men I would date had to be more mature. Shit, was I wrong.

Two years later, still treading the dating world and with no luck at finding Mr. Right, it had become apparent to me that all men were assholes and all built from the same genetically defected douchebag cloth. My photography business was on top, my blog was even bigger, but the men I dated all sucked.

My self-esteem over the years went to shit from these experiences, as did all the other women’s that were part of my blog. One day, I woke up and finally realized it had nothing to do with me. The moment I decided to take a break and focus on self-love, I met a man named Luke. He was older, divorced, and had two kids. The older part didn’t bother me because older guys generally had their shit together. Right? He approached me, introduced himself, and we got to talking. Besides being super cute and adorable, he had a great and fun personality. We clicked right on the spot, but there was something about him that wasn’t sitting right with me. My intuition was telling me things I didn’t want to hear and I was in no way listening. We had a connection and that was all I cared about.

We exchanged numbers and had some deep conversations. Then the flirting started and it was exciting. We went on a few dates when he didn’t have the kids and I wasn’t busy, and generally texted each other every day. Sometimes all day long. The more I got to know him, the more I found how broken he really was. My intuition was still on point, but that didn’t bother me. We had a connection.

He had just started a new job he didn’t feel was up to his potential, his financial situation was in the toilet, and his ex-wife was a total bitch. Did I mention he drank? It seemed to be a daily thing with him. So the fact that he might potentially be an alcoholic crept inside me. Here I was this confident, independent, and financially stable woman, dating an older man who had way too much baggage. Ask me why I didn’t run as fast as I could. Again, I was blinded by the fact that we had this weird type of connection thing between us and that maybe I could save him. I saw a glimmer of hope because it was what I did. I attracted the type of men who needed to be saved.

Then one day, out of the clear blue, the text messages became scarce. He wasn’t texting as much as he did and I felt like I was doing all the talking when we did text. Because my intuition was still kicking me in the ass, I decided to call him one day to find out what was going on. It was then he told me he felt we were getting too close and he needed to figure out his life and focus solely on that and his kids. Needless to say, I was blindsided by that one. I had fallen for a man who had made mistake after mistake in life, was seemingly depressed, and drank himself to sleep every night. He told me that he wasn’t in any position to date at that moment. Then why the hell did he pursue me the way he did? He even went so far as to say that maybe he shouldn’t have asked me out the few times we saw each other. Who the hell says that after the fact?

The real kicker was the day before our enlightened conversation, he told me how much he really liked me and even called me his angel. I couldn’t understand for the life of me why I could have my life figured out at the age of twenty-five, yet I couldn’t figure out a man and why he behaved the way he did. After pulling back for a couple of weeks, he wormed his way back into my life and I let him. Mistake number two. The flirting became heavy once again and then he did the unthinkable act: the plunge and lunge. He kissed me, not once, but twice, then disappeared.

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