Often dubbed the “Butterfly Effect,” these subconscious feelings of romance and love are a condition of love-sickness. You make eye contact with a stranger across the room and BANG, your stomach is fluttering, heart is thumping, and mind is racing.
Before I met Ryosuke, I had a (not terribly long) string of relationships – none lasting more than a month or so. I’m not proud of my dating history, but I’m also not ashamed. Each started out as a potential candidate, someone I sincerely wanted to date. The first couple weeks were fun and magical; every joke he made was funny, every move he made was graceful. I was in the Butterfly Effect; I was drunk on love, with butterflies in my stomach that kept me on cloud nine. But then the butterflies faded.
Sometimes I noticed it right away, like all of a sudden, I realized he wasn’t particularly funny. Or smart. Sometimes I took a little longer to figure out, like when I looked at my phone and saw a new text, I sighed rather than smiled. No matter how it happened, as the days continued, I stopped seeing him in the love-struck rose colored glasses I had donned earlier in the relationship and started seeing him like, well, everyone else saw him.
I never liked the result.
So we broke up.
I don’t remember how many times this cycle repeated or how many “hearts” I broke because of the Butterfly Effect (I do actually feel bad about this now). All that mattered was the fact I felt cheated. I was on the hunt for my soulmate; I wanted someone who my equal; I wanted to settle down with 7 children and travel the world. No one was matching up and it was driving me crazy.
No matter how the relationship was going, as soon as those butterflies faded, I realized once again I had fallen in love with the idea of love, rather than with the boy I was holding hands with. I would get that sinking, panicked feeling, like I was slowly drowning every time I heard them speak. So I ended the relationship and moved on. Freshman year of college, I had had enough. I promised myself no more relationships unless it was the real thing. No holding hands, no hugging, not even a kiss unless I was sure he was “the one.” Or at least a strong contender for the position of soulmate.
I’m not going to lie, it was pretty lonely. I cried myself to sleep some nights and spent other nights clutching my stuffed rabbit tightly while watching romantic comedies. I was still on the hunt, but this time I had a “three month” rule. If I liked them constantly for three months (three times the usual shelf life of any of my relationships), then I would act on it.
No one passed the “three month” rule.
The first day of my freshman year of college, while I was busy unpacking, one of my good friends threw open the door to my room in excitement. “Grace! You’ve got to meet the Japanese exchange student, Muscles! He’s like. He’s like WOW. He’s like Japanese me. You will love him. He’s so cool!!”
Before I could say anything, he was gone. I met Muscles, (aka Ryosuke) later that evening; a group of went out to dinner. My first impression of him was the fact he was bald, had a huge mole on his chin, and wouldn’t stop smiling.
I don’t remember when I realized I loved Ryosuke. It all stemmed from something I never had in any of my other relationships: trust. I not only trusted him, but also trusted his decisions, hobbies, and thoughts on life. When he got down on one knee at Tokyo Disneyland with my mother’s old wedding ring clutched tightly in his trembling fingers, I never even stopped to think.
I’ve never looked back; I’ve never thought about what “we” are.
A couple months ago, when one of my friends was having dating problems, I realized I haven’t felt the “first-love butterflies” on months. I don’t know when they stopped. Surprisingly enough, the thing that has killed all my previous relationships hasn’t even made a dent on this one.
Looking back, I can’t think of a time I didn’t love Ryosuke; I can’t remember a time when I didn’t value his opinion as much as my own; I don’t understand how I was able to make major life decisions without his straightforward thinking, carefree logic, and positive thinking; and I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life without him – butterflies or no butterflies.
Then, sometimes, when I take a step back and catch him digging through the wooden cabbage rack at our favorite grocery store, weighing the two cabbages with his hands, trying intensely to figure out which is the better, I feel a little flutter.
It’s just a small flutter, but it is real. The butterflies aren’t dead, they’re just sleeping. They know I don’t need them anymore; I prefer the eternal bliss to the quenching flutters of the “first love butterflies.”
I prefer Ryosuke.
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