Characteristics that Made My Boyfriend My Fiance

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I moved in my bed, forcing myself to fall back asleep. I could hear laughter, lively conversation and dishes clinking downstairs. My dad had mentioned that two of his grad school friends were visiting along with their son this weekend. I had landed in LA a few hours prior and fell asleep immediately after finishing an inpatient contract spanning several weeks in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

Several hours of fatigued sleep later, however, I was hungry. I had to eat. My brother had ordered Thai earlier and curry was waiting for me in the refrigerator. You have to meet them and say hi, my brain warned. I hated small talk and I dreaded entertaining guests, being asked questions like, “when are you getting married?” or, “do you cook beta?” by match making aunties. Eventually though, I ran out of sleep and patience. I came downstairs in my PJs and quietly opened the refrigerator, hoping to leave unnoticed. How silly.

I was spotted and a kind voice asked my dad which daughter I was. My dad responded proudly and I stepped into the dining room where the guests were seated. I saw my parents, my brother, an older couple and a young man sitting with easy smiles and relaxed postures. They were having fun, I remember thinking. There was nothing stiff or formal about their evening.

I said hello, answered a few questions and saw their son. I immediately felt something. He’s the one who was laughing, I thought, remembering the deep laughter I heard occasionally from upstairs. He had an easy smile, broad shoulders, a beautiful magnetic, kind energy that I was immediately drawn to.

My brother introduced us and I think he might have said one sentence to me (about a Netflix suggestion of a Mafia show that he revealed later he hoped impressed me) before they left. I was curious about him and I wondered if I’d see him again.

A few days later, he found me on Instagram and a few months later, we started talking. We talked, on average, four hours a day everyday. Over text, he reached out every hour to tell me something about his day. Over time, I saw his sweet vulnerability, quiet determination and solid character. He was honest. He was an open book. He was becoming an integral part of my life, someone I thought of every few minutes, pictured in my new apartment, in my future and eventually, old age. Eventually, we planned out vacation destinations, discussed our hopes and dreams for the future as we fell asleep.

Easily, like second nature, as if there was no surprise, we said we loved each other and planned out the next year that would include moving and a wedding.

Very quickly, very clearly, I realized he was special. He was both vulnerable and confident. He was both strong and kind. He knew exactly what and who he wanted. He confessed later that after 10 seconds of us meeting, he saw the possibility of us getting married. Although he shared similarities with others — such as his compassion, intelligence and good nature — Aalam is distinctly special from anyone I’ve ever met; there is something about him that I can’t quite pinpoint that has me hooked.

When he asked me why this is different, I could come up with a million reasons why I wanted to marry him.

Here are just a few reasons out of thousands why he’s the one.

He pushes me to do better. For the first time, I met someone who embraces the rebellious and independent side of me. He never asks me to stay at home, become more domesticated or more submissive. This is a common theme for Indian men and one of my greatest fears was to marry someone who wanted to change me, knowing full well how much I love my independence.

Unlike my ex-fiance, Aalam instead urges me to dream bigger, pursue my dreams and life goals. One night before I fell asleep, I remember him saying, with worry in his voice, that his biggest regret would be if I gave up my dreams for him: he puts us on an even level playing field and he cheers me on when I’m up to bat — this is the type of husband I was searching for.

You don’t want someone who makes you less you — you want someone who amplifies qualities and strengths that makes you you.

He isn’t afraid of showing how much he cares about me. In a generation of daters where the “loser” is who shows the most vulnerability and commitment, Aalam went off the normal beaten road and did the opposite — he called me for hours each day, every few hours, between drives and during lunch breaks. Initially, I was a bit taken aback, unsure of what we would talk about. In those minutes of silences, he asked questions. He asked important questions — how am I during arguments? What do I do when I’m upset? What are my “hopes and ambitions” in life?

He wasn’t afraid of showing how committed he was with me. In fact, he did the opposite — he embraced it and ran off the cliff with how much he cared, zero hesitancy on his part on how much he wanted our relationship and life together.

Falling for him felt natural. There was nothing forced with him. I woke up with the phone plastered to my face, skyping with him with no make up and dark circles under my eyes. When we talked, I hid nothing from him. I filled in him on my day, discussed my worries, insecurities and fears. In consequence, he revealed his small quirks, love for cartoons, off-beat singing and goofy poems that he concocts routinely to get laughs out of me.

After meeting him, I realized why it never worked with anyone else — the previous relationships, dating and heartbreak included men that were ultimately not good fits for me. Sure, I could have made them last, bended over a bit further to make a relationship work. Looking back, however, I realize now that if I had compromised, had agreed to give up certain values I cherished, I would have ultimately done a disservice to myself and my partner. How unfortunate would it have been if I had married anyone else but Aalam.

The last person I was dating, for example, didn’t want kids. Aalam, instead, tells me how excited he is to chase our toddlers in a few years and I can hear the love in his voice already for the family we’ll have. If I had agreed to date that guy who didn’t want kids, I would have given up something I valued and sincerely wanted. My ex-fiance, similarly, used to beg me to depend on him more, seeing my fierce independence as a threat to his masculinity. Aalam, instead, emphasizes that he appreciates my focus, ambition and excitement to do things on my own.

He loves qualities about me that I felt I had to compromise on with other men.He celebrates my strengths and he compliments my weaknesses: he is everything I ever wanted in a husband.

For the first time, I knew what it means when someone says, “when you know, you know”.


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