Monday, July 14, 2008

Stark Contrast

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.

13 comments:

Dingo said...

*sigh* Isn't it great when you find The Right One? Mr. Dingo tells me he loves me every day. I can tell in big ways and small by all the things he does for me.

I am so happy for you and Mr. W.

Anita said...

As one who had waited hmmmm about 3 years for him to say the L word (I know, I know, it's like a world record), I had to tell myself that actions spoke louder than words all the time. It comforted me that I could feel it even if I hadn't heard it yet. And to just open another can of cliche, I will end with "good things come to those who wait."

brookem said...

aww, very sweet. you're lucky to have found someone whose showing all the right actions that = such a wonderful relationship for you guys.

Angela said...

This entry definitely made me say "aww" because you found someone who really listens to who you are and acts accordingly. That's always special.

geekhiker said...

Crap, I think I'm more like your exes: I fall to quickly and pronounce too loudly. Sometimes I soooo wish I could get my brain, and the mouth it's attached to, to shut the heck up...

Mel Heth said...

Dingo - I hope (think) he's the right one. Time will tell. Mr. Dingo is a precious lamb.

Anita - I didn't know it took 3 years! Woman, you have patience! Damn - I should've been calling you when I was getting antsy. I LOVED your post today, btw. :)

Brookem - It is really nice to be surrounded by those kind of actions. Especially when you've never experienced it before.

Angela - Yeah, there's not much more we can ask for than that. :) Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Geekhiker - I assure you, there is no way you're like the ex. I would guess that you back up your talk with action - which makes you another Mr. Wonderful. :)

Jane Moneypenny said...

I swear, your last one sounds like all my exes combined. Seriously. That's sick.

Nilsa S. said...

Oh how we learn through the years, eh?!? So glad you found This One. :-)

Lara said...

That's what it's really supposed to be like. :) All the words in the world can't make up for someone who truly loves and respects you.

Michael C said...

Slow down here. I'm taking notes. Provided I can read my writing later, my wife is going to be so happy. Thank Mr. W in advance for me.

;-)

Mel Heth said...

Jane - Seriously, what is wrong with these boys who blab away and make you think everything's great when it's falling apart?

Nilsa - I wish I'd done more learning in my earlier years!

Lara - Loves and respects me like you do? XOXOXO

Michael C. - Whatever, like you need to take notes... I'm sure your hilarity alone keeps your wife happy as a clam...or some other highly content sea-dwelling animal.

justrun said...

Ah, yeah, that's good stuff. If only I knew to shut up and pay attention when I were younger. Then again, better then than now.

charlotteharris said...

thanks for reminding me to think about what I love about my own "this one"