A Lesson in Every Frog: Adventures and Discoveries on the Road to Real Love
Oh, if I only had a dollar for every time someone on The Bachelor (or any Bachelor Nation spinoff) said “I’ve got to follow my heart.”
And were wrong, wrong, wrong.
Listen – our hearts aren’t always that smart. Sorry, but it’s true. Our hearts can fool us. Especially when you mix in a few hormones and a mixed-up sense of what love is.
How did I come to this insight?
I simply made every romance mistake known to woman – oh, yes -until I started to see a pattern of repeated misjudgments and began to pay attention to my head, just a little bit more.
Poor brain. It gets a bad rap on reality shows and romantic myths.
So - I want to;
- Share some of those insights with you, and
- Thank every single frog I kissed (more, or less) on my way to marrying my present husband because, without knowing you frogs (in my case it’s guys, but that’s just me. Finding love, same-sex or other-sex, the lessons still count.), I’d never have figured out what I really want, need, and deserve when it comes to love.
Brief background: While some women I know found true love in high school and built from there, I did not.
I now know I had plenty of obstacles in my way – namely fear, and maybe not the best model for what marriage is from my parents. Water under the bridge – but believe me, I have taken the swim.
So, I had crushes but no real boyfriend, in high school and college, and affairs but still no real boyfriend through most of my twenties.
I was trying to be a star, you see. Then, I thought, I’d be worthy of love. But that’s another story.
I did finally marry at the age of 29, went on to have two kids with said husband, and when he left us all to lose himself in alcohol (another long story) I raised my kids myself – and started the journey to find out how I’d gotten myself into a marriage with a well-meaning addict in the first place.
I had to learn how not to make the same mistake – and as a bonus, I wanted my kids to see what “healthy” looked like too.
Sixteen years between husbands. I call it “Relationship High School.” But I was not a teenager. I just had some elementary lessons to learn.
Yes, helped by my friends, my work, some therapy, some books, and workshops.
But it was the rehearsal time (i.e., actual dating) that taught me the most.
The most important turning point was when I decided to love men, that there were good men out there, and that the ones that were wrong for me were just that: not for me.
It didn’t make them bad. Just not a match.
And I turned resentment and regret into gratitude. Gratitude for the lessons they taught me, intentionally or not. Then I could sort out what it was I truly wanted.
So, on to my frogs (many of whom turned out to be someone else’s Prince, but hey).
I am grateful to you for the lessons.
This is not a comprehensive list. Think of it as a highlight reel.
FROG 1: High School Mr. Nice Guy – (okay, there were a few of these) – thanks for having a crush on me, thank you for your courage to buy me little gifts, thank you for laughing at all my jokes. I’m sorry I put you in the friend zone. Truly. I had a crush on you too, but you were too easy. I thought love had to be difficult to be real.
LESSON: True friendship should be the foundation. Pay attention to the nice guys. The ones who have your back. The ones who will kiss you even if you ate onion rings. The ones who ask if you are okay if you cry. Just because Beauty’s love changed the Beast, doesn’t mean it’s your job to win over the Bad Boys.
FROG 2: First-time Fred (not his real name, btw) You had me convinced that this was true love. And time to take the leap away from virginity. I also wanted to tell my friends I wasn’t a virgin anymore. It wasn’t that great.
LESSON: The first time is only the beginning. There is a lot to learn about sexuality. And always a next time to have a better experience. But – for me – “it’s empty without love” was a lesson learned more times than I’d like to admit. If I could do it all again, I’d say no more often, and not feel like I“owed” anybody anything. Plus, you know, diseases and all that.
FROG 3: Every gay guy I had a thing for. Don’t. Just don’t. Love the friendship and the fun but push away those fantasies of “converting” anyone.
LESSON: Fun and laughter matter in relationships. It just may not be enough (duh). You showed me that I wanted to be with someone I actually have fun with. Thank you.
FROG 4: Mr. Impossible. (Aka Bad Boy or Mr. Married Man). Oh, the crushes. The looks. The innuendo. I mistook the flirting for “true” love that was missing in your life, and I could be the solution. Wrong. Wrong. I’m glad I learned to see this clearly and draw boundaries. Eventually. Ah, youth.
LESSON: The people we are attracted to can hold warnings –and also clues. Sometimes our “heart” is just trying to recreate an old terrible memory to see if we can “fix” it this time around. Do that in therapy, instead. Also - if you’re seeking out impossible liaisons, gotta look at that, and tell your heart it is mistaken. – but we can also be grateful for the clues to the attraction. What is there that draws you? Intellect? Sense of humor? Playfulness? That’s what you want. Find it somewhere else.
FROG 5: Nice guy again, but not really adulting. I loved you. You painted my toenails. You hugged my kids. You were a true friend. But you kept losing your job, losing your way, defining yourself through me. I couldn’t respect you.
LESSON: Without mutual respect, love has a hard time lasting.
FROG 6: Mr. Romantic Gestures. Oh, this fooled me for a while. Roses, carriage rides, nice dinners. Impressive stories to tell my friends. But you shut down whenever I’d get a little vulnerable. You only wanted the fantasy. I want more, I discovered, because of you. Thank you.
LESSON: The right guy will want to know the real you. Not some dream girl. I still love flowers and surprises, but also just ask me how my cold is today, please.
FROG 7: Mr. Good-on-Paper. It’s like he studied the manual on how to be a good boyfriend – and does everything right but something is missing. He’s trying too hard. And started complaining that I wasn’t enough like his mother. (She was stylish and judgmental. I dress in Gap on a good day, and let things go)
LESSON: Wait and see. Does he want you to fit a role, or does he want you? And meet the mother - and observe carefully.
Through all this, I learned what I really wanted – and that I was worthy of a feast of love, not crumbs of affection and attraction.
- would truly be my best friend.
- accepted me as I am but rooted for the ways I wanted to be better.
- laughed at life, rather than complaining about it.
- had a touch I welcomed, who could learn to love my imperfect family.
- was proud and happy to be with me, not just show off my accomplishments. Just me.
- would rub my feet if I asked him to – or sometimes even if I didn’t.
Did I make a list? I did, after taking a workshop to help me dump some old beliefs, accept the lessons from my frogs, and visualize what I really wanted. (The list was much longer than the one above.)
I clarified what I truly wanted, I went about my business, I was more selective about who I spent time with – and a few weeks later, Geoff showed up. Like I conjured him out of thin air.
We’ve been happily married for 12 years.
And- Bachelor and Bachelorettes? – If the other housemates don’t like someone, RUN! This is not someone you want to be with, even if your “heart” (hormones, or old messages) tell you so.
Thank you, frogs. I wish you well.
Randye Kaye's two bestselling books, Happier Made Simple and Ben Behind His Voices, are tied into her work as a motivational speaker, radio and podcast host, actress, singer, teacher, and mental health advocate - as well as her life as a wife, mother, and grandmother. Life balance is key - and a key to Happier.
She has narrated over 165 audiobooks so far, all available on Audible. She also presents keynotes and workshops on all Seven Core Concepts and Phrases to be Happier - more simply.
Randye harnesses the power of words in all aspects of her work. Her first book, Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope, was nominated for a Publisher’s Weekly Award. She lives with her family in Connecticut. www.randyekaye.com and www.happiermadesimple.com