In a few short months, my husband and I will reach a relationship pinnacle, 15 years of coupledom. As we get closer to that date, I can’t help but think about the road that led us to choosing each other forever. And even though my husband prefers to believe that he was my first relationship, there were men before him. He shouldn’t choose to ignore those men, but rather thank them. Those men and those relationships helped shape me into the 24 year old woman he met and fell in love with. So, nameless men, here is my thank you letter to you.

To the first man I loved, I would like to thank you for showing me that I was capable of being in love, that it happens naturally and quietly. Thank you for teaching me that all love isn’t forever love, and for helping me be certain that the love I eventually felt for the man I would marry WAS that forever love because it thwarted what I felt for you. And thank you for breaking my heart, so I wasn’t so quick to give it away again.

To the one from high school I reconnected with, thank you for making my high school self so happy, and in turn, showing me how much I’d grown. Thank you, also, for injecting yourself into my female friendships to make me realize that I needed someone who would embrace my independence. And thank you for the dozens of bottles of Orange Hooch that you bought for me. It was 23 year old me’s favorite!

To the super hot one, thank you for being super hot. As anti-feminist as it sounds, it’s always great for the self-esteem when a super hot guy is attracted to you. Thank you for keeping me company when my selfless act of being a great wingman left me drinking alone at the bar. Thank you especially for blatantly ignoring a girl who clearly felt her stuff didn’t stink, and who I had bad blood with, to talk to me all night. The satisfaction I got from watching her face at the end of the night as she stood waiting, expecting you to take her home, as you walked me outside and we exchanged numbers was fulfilling . Perhaps that makes me a bad person, but, eh, I’m okay with it.

To the one before THE one, you may not know, but I had entertained thoughts that you could have been the one. You were smart, ambitious, made me laugh, and gave me my freedom. But in reality, I chose you because you were going through a divorce and not ready for another commitment. What I thought was an easiness to our relationship was actually apathy. Neither of us made any real effort to develop our relationship, so much so, that after 6 months, the days in between communication became weeks and eventually we just weren’t anymore. You taught me that relationships take work, and if it is an important relationship, you WANT to work at it. But most importantly, it was several months after we stopped talking that I got that call from my friend that you were out and with another girl. I drug myself out of bed and headed down there, searching for who knows what. Instead, I had my first conversation with Chris that night, as he was there with my friend’s boyfriend. I never even sought you out because I was enjoying this new man’s company so much. You still popped up even after Chris and I started dating, each time only further cementing my feelings for him. Several months into Chris’ and my relationship, during a bad patch, you came back into town after moving several hours away. Unexpectedly, you showed up at my door. We talked and you asked me why I never pursued a “next step” with you. All I could muster was that I had started to have feelings for you, and wasn’t ready to be serious. And then you tried to be physical, and even though Chris and I were broken up at the time, I couldn’t reciprocate. I only wanted to be with Chris. The next day, Chris and I talked about my night with you. Just like that, the breakup was over.

None of these relationships were toxic or regrettable, and none of the men were bad people. And if you are reading this and think I am talking about you (p.s. you’re probably not the hot one), don’t interpret this in any way of any ill will. I like to think that I make good choices, and you are one of them. This truly is a note of thanks, as you’ve all played an important role in my life, even if neither of us realized it at the time. And, as I hear or see how you’ve become fantastic husbands and fathers, and hope that I too had some part in that.


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