The Timing of Love {A Guest Post}

Posted On: 02.24.15


the timing of love

by Evelyn Lauer

My entire life I’ve subscribed to the notion that when the time was right things would work out in terms of love.

I fell in love for the first time at 16, and since my boyfriend was a year older than I was, he went away to college first. For three months, we tried making a long-distance relationship work, but it didn’t last. He broke up me with over the phone right before Christmas. This was my first lesson in timing. It was not the right time for us. He was in college; I was in high school. We were not meant to be – not then. And even though we tried later in life to make it work, we couldn’t. There was a still a distance between us: I was in graduate school in Iowa City and he was working in Minneapolis. We let this distance and “time” of our lives control our love. After awhile we gave up trying. He met someone else and married her.

When I was 21, I fell in love again with my college boyfriend, who was two years older than I was and graduated a year and a half before I would. He was ready to get married – and I was not. I felt like the time wasn’t right again. I pushed him away because I was scared to make a commitment. We, too, tried to make our relationship work later in life – for ten years we tried and failed.

I was in love with both of these men. I wonder sometimes, now as I married mother of two in her late 30s, if I could have made it work despite the right time. As life continued in my 20s, my relationships seemed to be riddled with wrong times. I wasn’t ready; or he wasn’t. I dated men who were in their 30s who were ready to settle down when I still wasn’t ready. And when I was 28 – and finally felt ready – I dated a man who was 22 who was definitely not ready.

Is love really about the right time?

When I met my husband, I was 28. I had enough relationships behind me to know what and whom I wanted. I met him at the right time. He was the right person at the right time, but what if I would have met him five years earlier, would it not have lasted as my other relationships didn’t?

This is not to say that I wish to go back in time and redo my high-school romance (or others) and try to make it work. But I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if I did. I wonder about people who have different relationship stories than I do – stories of falling in love at 16 or 19 or 22 and making it work with that person no matter what. I thought with my head more than my heart. I had life goals that I wanted to reach before I settled down, before I thought about having kids. Perhaps this is the wrong way to love.

As someone who has been working on a memoir about love, these are thoughts that consume me. I’d love to hear others’ opinions on this. How much of love is about the timing of it? What’s your love story? Did the right time come into play at all?

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8 Comments for: "The Timing of Love {A Guest Post}"
  1. Hi Evelyn, I love the questions you raised. My husband and I met in college as I was coming out of my first and only other long-term relationship. I am one of those people who says I knew on our first date he was the one. How did I know? I cant even put it in words. I chose to follow him to his grad school when I didn’t get in to my own, and then years later I left a job to follow him again when our kids were babies.

    I wonder about timing. As I ponder my career choices or lack thereof, it occurs to me timing in my life comes down to using the “say yes” dictum of improv comedy. I’ve arrived where I am from going with my gut and not over analyzing decisions, but that philosophy doesn’t work for everyone, including probably my own husband! I am a meaning-seeker, as Viktor Frankl would put it; although I can’t control what happens, I can control how I feel about it. As happy as we are now, and though I’d say things worked out well for us, without some good marital counseling we never could have made it here. Our therapist gave me the gift of compassion, for which I am so grateful. For me the marriage equation comes down to: success = love + perception + compassion.

    Thanks for inspiring me to analyze!

  2. Thanks so much for your comment, Justine. I truly love hearing other people’s thoughts on this topic because it is one I wonder about. I also love what your therapist said! Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Kathy

    Hi Evelyn! My first love began when I was 14 years old! We dated until we were almost 22! We were high school sweethearts that attended different colleges. He stayed home at a local university, and I went away to one. We were mature enough to realize at various times we needed a break here and there because of a crush someone had on someone, and cheating was never an option! In between our sophomore and junior year of colleges two of our best friends died in a car accident. Everything changed. My boyfriend drove up to my dorm that next fall, and broke my heart. He proclaimed his love for me, but our friends death left him philosophical about life. He hoped perhaps one day the journey would leave him back to me.
    I graduated college, and took a job where one day in walked the most handsome man I had ever seen! He was a sales rep for one of the manufacturers we would go on to purchase from. He stopped in at our store cold calling, because of grand opening banners that hung outside that caught his attention. We were supposed to have taken them down months before. We started dating after some flirting, a phone call, and our first dinner date. He is 7 years older than me. We have been married 25 years!
    The first love came looking for me after I had started dating my future husband, he wanted me back. Two years had passed. I told him I never cheated on him, and I certainly would not cheat on the man I was dating even for him! He married a girl that had a crush on him since they were in elementary school together! She always hated me!
    My parents have been married 59 years, and my in laws would have been married 60 this past February, but my mother-in-law recently passed away. All of our marriages are hard won. We stay the course, ride out the difficult times, and appreciate the good ones!

    • Kathy, Thanks for sharing your story — and I apologize for my delayed response. I love what you say about “all of our marriages are hard won.” Yes, thank you for that. I totally agree.

  4. Jenny B

    After nearly 30 years of marriage, I have come to believe that relationships are mostly about commitment. Timing certainly plays a part as do all sorts of other variables. However, every day for the last 29 years, I have made the decision, conscious or not, that no matter what, I’m going to make this relationship work. Some days it really feels like a very conscious decision!!!

    I met my husband when I was 20, my junior year abroad in Paris. He was a 23 year old, handsome, art student. And French. I was smitten. At the time, I had a deeply rooted aversion to people in suits with “real” jobs, so he met all my juvenile criteria; creative, troubled, handsome, moody, French. Every red flag that flew up in my face, I buried, convinced that I could fix anything and anyone broken. Right…

    It hasn’t been a smooth ride and the path has been anything but of-least-resistance.
    I won’t say I’m not still trying to “fix” him, but as I approach 50 I remind myself that I’m fixer-upper myself . I’m committed to this relationship and lo-and-behold, he’s stuck by me through some truly, insanely difficult times and losses. OH, and I do owe him these two amazing children we have – except for the days when I get to blame him for all their flaws which clearly can’t be traced to my double helices (is that the plural?).

    Over the years, we’ve weathered more storms than I can count. Deaths, births, more deaths, financial disasters, health issues and so much more. The stress of life can get so deep that, sometimes, I need to remind myself of why I love this man and put up with his chaotic, messy, flakey ways (apart from the obvious – that he does laundry, cooks like a chef and is still looking handsome – I know, what am I whining about?).

    We couldn’t be more different, one from the other and I find my self wondering, if I met him today, would I run the other way?

    No way to know. It’s like that, “If I knew then what I know now” scenario that is ultimately meaningless.

    What I do know is that sticking it out has at times been a very conscious decision (that and the fact that we can’t afford two apartments and a divorce – at least we joke about that). Others may not have made the decisions we have made and could very well have parted ways at any number of times. We each have our breaking point and our priorities. Keeping my marriage together, no matter what, is something that I’m committed to. This may seem antiquated and downright odd to some, but it’s who I am. My husband may be stuck with me just because he can’t seem to get his act together – something which drives me nuts, but may well be serving me well for the purpose of keeping this thing together!

    29 years together and it’s still one day at a time.

    Good luck everyone and thanks for making me think about this and write it down! 🙂

    • Jenny,

      Thank you so much for this, for sharing your story here. I apologize for my delayed response, too. I love what you say about commitment and conscious choice to make it work. I feel that too. At some point in my life, I said, I’m going to stop running and make it work. Yes. Yes. xo and thank you for reading and making me think!

  5. ch

    Evelyn, I love this topic and I am looking forward to reading your memoir when it comes out!

    I think about timing and love all of the time (no pun intended 🙂 ) When I was a teenager I met a man who was much older than I, and while there was a definite connection between us there was no way for us to have acted on it then. there were times over the ensuing years that I felt compelled to reach out to him for one reason or another, but when I would sit down to write, I would never send the letter (or, eventually, email 🙂 ) Many, many years later I did finally feel it was the “right” time to contact him, and I did, and even though our lives were filled with obstacles to our developing a relationship, we did. Interestingly, the timing was very right – but also very wrong. The timing may never be right for us, and that is a heartbreaking reality of the love we have for each other. The way I try to make sense of it is to try to think about *why* a love that feels very right, very beautiful, very important, might develop when the timing really is problematic.

    • Oh, I love this comment. I feel that too about the man my memoir is about — the tragically the timing was never going to be right for us, admitting that to myself was the hardest thing. Thank you for reading and sharing your story. xo

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