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Dear John

Dear John,

You are not my everything. You are not my reason for being. You are not my source of confidence. You know this. It’s part of why you love me and why I love you. I was complete before I knew you. I was on my own journey with my own plans minding my own business when you came along. My life was going just fine. But now it’s somehow better.

I don’t need you. I choose you. I choose to lay down beside you each night and wake next to you each morning. I choose to walk through life with your hand in mine pausing at every opportunity to kiss your sweet face. I enjoy your presence and miss you when you’re gone. But I’m still an independent woman who can take care of herself. I’ve just chosen to share that self with you.

You don’t need me either. I love that. You had a life before me. You were a whole person when we met, and so was I. Not two halves brought together by fate or God or something like that, as so many couples claim they are. We don’t come together to create some magical, electric energy. We just like being around each other. And that’s more than enough.

This isn’t to say I don’t rely on you. Living together has that effect on people. It’s less reliance, though, and more trust. I trust you to be there for me as I so often need. Whether I’m sitting on the kitchen floor crying or just need someone to complain to about my day, you’re always available. I trust you’ll be there when I get home from work or at least by the time I go to bed. But that trust can only exist because I’ve learned to trust myself first.

Art by Kate Saxton

Before you, I was a vivacious young woman with hopes and dreams that were not quite plans yet. I loved going out to bars, playing pool poorly, and yelling at creepy men who tried to hit on my friends. I was an avid Tinder dater, always on the hunt for a new man’s heart to eat. I lived for the drama of seeing one after the other, never fully committing but also never going without attention.

Then you came along. At first, I expected you to be like all the others. You would initially be charmed by my Manic Pixie Dream Girl façade only to be unable to stomach the complex human underneath. I expected we would flirt over text and have sleepovers for a few weeks before you realized I was (as I’d been told many times before) “too much.”

Weeks went by then months. Suddenly, I found myself… feeling things. I ignored it. I repressed it. I distracted myself. Until one night, while lying in my bed with you, you turned to me with a very serious look. “I love you,” you said. I was stunned. No one had ever said it to me first. In past relationships, I had always been the impulsive one who blurted out my feelings, usually to be rejected. But this time, it was you. All I had to do was say it back.

It took me a moment to respond. I was so surprised. In the time it took, I saw your face fall. I saw your fear that you’d ruined everything because once you say it, it’s out there. No take-backs. I know you wanted an immediate response, but I couldn’t give you that. I had to take that microsecond to weigh out what saying it back would mean. Would we live happily ever after? Would we grow to resent each other and break up? Would you turn out to be a serial killer or some weirdo who collects used tissues?

But I did say it back. I took a chance. I had no idea how it would all work out. I just knew how I felt at that moment. Like I was so lucky to have found you. You, the man who makes me laugh. You, the man whose goals and values aligned so closely with mine. I couldn’t have predicted that every day would be better than the last.

Art by Kate Saxton

I choose you every day. I don’t choose you over my independence or my self-worth. I choose you because of those things.

I love you, and I will continue to love you as a whole person from a position of strength.


Sweet Bean

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