a letter to my future significant other
Two things to note. Once, I wrote this over the course of many months so the timeline and where I am does not always track. It jumps around a lot. Second, The gender of this fictitious person is not the point of the essay. I wrote this to a man, to simplify the use of pronouns, but I am a firm believer that sexuality is a spectrum and I may not end up with a man.
To my significant other,
I’m not sure when I am sharing this with you. Maybe it’s the day I decide that I love you. Or maybe I’m reading this as our wedding vows. Or giving this to you the night before our wedding. I don’t know. Because the truth is, at the time I am writing this, I don’t know you. I don’t know how we met. Or when. I know that right now, I can’t wait to meet you. I know I will share this with you. I know I will meet you. I know that I cannot wait for our lives together -and the life we create, side by side.
I am mostly happy right now, but my heart hurts thinking about how you’re not here with me right now, in Berlin. I feel lonely but I don’t want just anyone to fill this void - I want you by my side.
I’m in Budapest right now, alone, and I miss you dearly. I went to the bath houses today and saw couples smiling, splashing, and laughing. My heart hurt that you weren’t here. So, I spent the day thinking about us traveling to unknown countries together. I thought about us getting lost in cities together. I imagined us going to places you’ve been but I have not, and you show me the best spots in town, unknown to tourists. We will swap stories of trips we took before we knew each other, laughing at the hijinks we got ourselves into, but silently grateful that we don’t have to travel without each other anymore, if we don’t want to.
In the pool of the bath house today, I daydreamed about our trips where we to do nothing but lie in the sun and sand, playing in the water; but my favorite part is listening to the waves, reading, next to you. I thought about how our hair gets sandy, salty, and mine is knotty and how I return to our home with pink skin and extra freckles. You said it’s cute when I inevitably complain (but really, I’m searching for a compliment).
I’m back in the US and it’s wedding season. Every photo on my Instagram feed of a beautiful bride in a gorgeous dress kissing her loving husband stings a tiny bit. Not because I don’t like that couple. Or that I’m jealous. But because I’m so scared that I won’t meet you. Or because I miss you so much. I am yearning for you to look at me the same way I see these newlyweds look at each other. But you’re not looking at me that way yet. So, I keep thinking about our future together.
The other day, I thought about us in our home. Our walks with Daphne on sunny Saturdays. We might do different things, separately with our own friends. We will spend nights and days apart. Doing our own things. We will never police each other. We’re confident in our relationship and we don’t have to control one another. And when we’re not, we can tell each other that.
I envisioned our laziness too. Lying in bed reading on rainy Sundays. Sipping coffee. I hope you get coffee and bagels before I wake up. I’ll do it for you when I wake up first, but that’s just unlikely to happen.
I thought about nights out and how you never tell me that I’ve drank too much. Instead, you will notice when I am too drunk to be in public, order a pizza and a cab, and then tell me that you’ve scheduled a pizza to arrive at the exact moment we get home. You will help me devour the pizza. When we wake up the next morning, you won’t make me feel bad for something stupid I did while drunk. I love that about you. But while we’re we recap the previous night’s funny moments you do impressions of me from the night before – making me laugh until my stomach hurts.
It’s hard loving you and not knowing you. But I do. I know that you have this unconditional love for me too, because I’m a mess, and you would not stick around for this mess unless you really loved me.
You know everything about me and still love me. You won’t judge me for my debt or the number of men I’ve been with, or how much I drink. You know that my greatest fear, before I met you, was not meeting you and dying alone. But you’ve alleviated that fear. And you make sure to remind me in some way every day, that I never have to consider that again. You know that my greatest fear is being ordinary and you make sure that never happens. You know that my second greatest fear is not living up to my father’s expectations. You console me when this inevitably happens.
You’re not scared of me or us or commitment. You’re not threatened by feminism. I will never be too much for you. You don’t mind when I’m loud, big, or angry. You won’t call me moody or abrasive. You might not always agree with me but you know that my emotions come from my passion and empathy and are always grounded in love. You’re not scared of my light. You know there’s enough light for both of us. And you will never make me sacrifice myself and who I am in exchange your love and affection.
You’re never intimidated by me or threatened by my intelligence, confidence, or success. You love me because of those things. But you love me more because I don’t ever know where to harness my energy, intellect, and passion. You will have the same conversation with me yearly, monthly, or maybe weekly, about what I should do, and you are always supportive.
I think about you reading my writing. You love it because you think I am talented and you genuinely enjoy my work. But you also love to celebrate me, put me first, let me shine, dream alongside me, and fearlessly know me.
You never asked me to take your last name. And you will never ask my dad for my hand in marriage. Because I’ve told you my aversion to these antiquated sexist traditions, most likely on our third date during a drunk diatribe.
I know we won’t want to have kids. But I imagine after three to five years, we will consider it because we were so in love, but immediately stop considering it. Then we’ll consider it off and on for the next decade until it doesn’t seem plausible. We will enjoy our child-less life. I hope we move a lot. I hope we’re always talking about where to settle down. Neither of us can figure it out. We’re nomadic by nature. I don’t know where our home is, but I know it is cozy and filled with laughter.
As much as it hurts, I am grateful for this time without you. I’m glad I did not meet you in college. Or my early twenties. I need this time alone to heal from the past. I need to experience others to figure out what I want and need from you. I am so thankful for all of the men who disappointed me before you, because they all taught me something. Something that made me stronger, more self-realized, more confident.
I am thankful for the firefighter for teaching me that I love big strong legs and that it is okay to want a man with a strong sex drive.
Thankful for the boy from Bumble for teaching me that I don’t have to lower my standards just to alleviate my loneliness. Never again do I need to be with someone who doesn’t ask questions about myself. Or shows little interest in me. I deserve more than a guy giving the littlest amount of effort. He taught me that when I ask a man to hang out and he says, “maybe” or “IDK” or some other bullshit answer, that he’s not my person and I don’t have to stick around to see if it gets better or try to convince him that I’m enough for him.
Thankful to my ex in Chicago; for teaching me not to lose myself in you or anyone else. How important it is to stay true to who I am and pursue my dreams. To never submit to someone else. That being in a relationship doesn’t mean I am a caretaker. Through him, I learned to look for a partner.
Thankful to the man I loved harder than anyone, until I met you, for teaching me that I need to find a partner with courage, someone who is not scared of his feelings for me. I now know that I want someone who is ready for me. I don’t have to beg for your love.
Right now, long before we’ve slept together, I sit here at the bar thinking about us in bed. You love my body. You think every inch is perfect. The stretch marks, cellulite, and rolls on my belly and thighs. You love that my right breast is larger than my left. You adore the moles on my face. You point out the freckle on right butt cheek. You love running your fingers through my hair when we kiss. When I’m sleeping, you trace the outline of my tattoos with your forefingers. After a few years, you’ve memorized them and can do it with your eyes closed.
I think about how you will have temptations and urges and want to explore, all of which is healthy. I will too. If we need to, we will have a conversation about it and come up with a solution that works for us. Because we will never hold resentment against one another.
Last week was hard for me. I was depressed, anxious, scared, mean. I cried a lot. In public. I fought with my parents. I wished you were here. But you weren’t here, so I thought about the way you will treat me when I am having a hard time.
I thought about you rubbing my back while I have a panic attack. You do not just tell me it will be okay, you sit with me in my pain. You know that I can be a negative person. Who suffers from depression and anxiety. Who has to take an antidepressant cocktail every day to stay sane. That won’t bother you. You love me harder. And when I have dark days you know when to leave me alone and when to come lie beside me while I cry. You’ll also know that I can be the happiest person, full of life, who seeks out adventures. You love that I love everyone and how I tell them often.
I will drive you nuts. But you never doubt your love for me. You’re never weary on commitment. When you met me, you knew you wanted to spend the rest of your life with me.
I know that we inspire each other to be better versions of ourselves, while at the same time accepting each other for who we are. We take risks and go after our dreams. Encouraging each other. When it seems impractical, we get creative and try to find another way. We work hard. Individually and collectively. We teach each other things. We inspire each other.
We grow together. You are not my long-lost soul mate, completing me. I don’t make you whole. We are two separate beings, perfect on our own. We don’t rely on each other to go places or fix ourselves. We take ourselves places.
When promotions at work and potential moves and risks come up, we talk about them together. You support my career more than your own. Because you know that I support yours over mine. And you know that this is the ultimate sacrifice for me, symbolizing my belief that you are the love of my life, who I am supposed to be with for the rest of my life.
I know we will fight. But more often than our fights, we are open and honest with each other, about our fears, insecurities. I hope our fights are weak and infrequent. I am confident that we will work on our marriage. We will talk through things, give space when we need, and always love each other.
I know that we will experience failure, job losses, mistakes, we have each other to inspire each other to jump back. We will see our family members get sick and pass. Our businesses will fail. We will have financial hardships and when life is unbearable, and it doesn’t seem like we can’t go on, I know our love can summon the strengths for us to get through it.
What I can’t stop thinking about is the way you look at me, which is weird and difficult, because I don’t know what you look like or how you could possibly look at me. But I imagine your eyes light up as I walk into a room. I think about how you smile at me as I pontificate. And if I’m lucky enough to have a camera capture it, when we are close for a kiss, I can see the joy beaming across your face.
Today, I am thinking about how I sometimes look at you – you don’t know I’m watching you - just think to myself that I’m the luckiest girl in the world.
The Nation has a song, “Twenty Nine”, and there’s a line in it: You know I dreamed about you/For twenty-nine years before I saw you/You know I dreamed about you/I missed you for, for twenty-nine years
And that’s how I feel. I’ve been dreaming about you for as long as I have lived. I love you right now. I miss you right now. I don’t know how long I will have to wait, but I know I will never be a young bride. But when the day comes, I don’t mind how long I had to wait; every day will have been worth it. To be here with you. Because the way you look at me makes it all worth it. The way you look into my eyes and smile.
Stephanie DeLacy unapologetically shares what it’s like to navigate the world as 20-something white girl, with humor, profanity, and raw vulnerability. Stephanie recounts stories of her travel, mental health, and the journey to loving her body. Her descriptions of dating are bawdy but incredibly relatable. She courageously describes her dysfunctional childhood, healing from trauma, and how she’s evolved as a survivor of sexual assault. At times, heart wrenching, her stories will evoke raw emotion and connect to you on the most guttural level. She hopes to inspire authentic living and human connection. Stephanie lives in Cleveland with her dog and two cats.