People always say, “actions speak louder than words” in relationships. This used to drive me crazy. I’m a writer, after all, I think words are extremely important. And heck, actions can be interpreted different ways, right? And really, isn’t the expression of words an action? It all seemed so muddled.
The Last One started out saying all the right things. On our second date he confessed that he’d been waiting for a girl like me his entire life. He didn’t even know me yet. He said he didn’t want to see anyone else—he was going off match.com because he only wanted me, the girl of his dreams. I met his mom that night, and in front of me he gushed to her about how cute I was. A couple weeks later I listened to him leave a voicemail for his friend, wherein he bragged about the incredible girl he had met.
The night he held my hands across the table at dinner and told me that if we "ended up together, he would promise me a life of adventure,” I caved in and slept with him. (It was only sleeping, Mom, shhh don’t cry.) The next night, I waited for him to call. I felt vulnerable and uncertain. Had I jumped the gun? He’d said all the right things… He called eventually, after he had “tied up some loose ends.” Although he’d been the one to ask for exclusivity on the second date, he hadn’t found the time to “call it off” with all the girls he was dating—so the day after we slept together, he took one to dinner to “let her down easy.”
The day before he moved out, we were looking at pictures on my computer. “That one would make a good engagement announcement,” he said. I was giddy. The very next day, sobbing into his hand, he told me he was going back to Orange County and he wasn’t sure what it meant for us.
A week and a half before we broke up—and I found the letter about his relationship with the married girl—we were on vacation in Washington and Oregon. We were ambling through the Mt. St. Helens visitor center when we came upon a little boy telling his dad about “hot lava shooting out of the volcano!” Adorable. The Last One grabbed me around the waist and said, “I want to have one of those with you.” Little did I know that he might have one with another already. (The results are still out on that one, by the way.)
Words, words, words. If only I’d plugged my ears.
When This One came along, I was both fascinated and afraid of his verbal restraint. I found myself wondering how he felt. But then I told the questioning voice in my head to shut up, and started to listen with my eyes and my cheeks and my lips and hands.
I can hear his respect in the way he shows up on time, doesn’t mention exes, makes plans for us instead of just trying to get down to business. (That just made me chuckle as I typed it.) I can hear his affection in the way he reaches over while he’s driving to grab my hand and kiss it. His gifts—flowers, an Easter basket, my favorite candy, a Batman toy—speak volumes. His willingness to spend time with my friends and family is a shout of sincerity. But perhaps the loudest action of all is his silence. His ability to listen.
I love him for being quiet and talking to me without hollow promises and regurgitated poetry. I love that for the first time ever, I don’t need someone’s mouth to tell me how they feel about me. And it’s really nice to finally understand what everyone was saying when they told me actions spoke louder. They were right.