I met Meghan Markle once. Yes, the same Meghan Markle who just joined the ranks of royalty. For real. It was at an event for studio NBC/Universal and she was the big name they were trotting out. A producer had called to ask if I would walk Meghan onstage – because you know, God forbid anyone have to walk onstage by themselves. In any case, I gallantly agreed to do it.
Back then, I didn’t know who Meghan Markle was. I’d never even seen an episode of Suits. So I was by no means star-struck, and instead tried to make small talk. I don’t remember much of the conversation, except that she had been spending long spells in Toronto (my hometown), where Suits is filmed. But I recall her vibe. Though she was unfailingly polite, and easy to talk to, she had the air of a woman who was trying to keep me at arm’s length.
But I guess Meghan Markle doesn’t have to worry about random dudes hitting on her anymore. After all, the whole world knows she’s the one who somehow managed to tame Prince Harry. What was it about Meghan Markle that led Prince Harry to shed his playboy prince label and become a one-woman man?
Single and always ready to mingle
It got me thinking. Women always seem way readier to leave the dating game behind, and say yes to a committed relationship. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that a boyfriend on their arm or a ring on their finger is an easy escape from any unwelcome flirtations.
It’s a different story with guys. For us, dating equals sexual freedom. And the thought of giving that up is daunting. Even if the girl is awesome and you think you might be in love with her, there’s that niggling thought that you’re giving up the ability to meet (and hook up with) all the single Meghan Markles of the world. You’re giving up all the crazy sexual exploits that your single male buddies assure you they’ve experienced. The FOMO is real.
The funny thing is, I know that being in a committed relationship is way better. Think about it – someone is actually willing to let you be your knucklehead self, and to stick it out with you in spite of your idiosyncrasies. Single life on the other hand, is always made out to be so much better than it actually is. In my experience, being single and dating means I spend a lot of time on my couch zoning out on video games and checking girls on social media.
I’ve done my fair share of dating. Being a model and actor, I dated a lot of models, which set the bar on looks pretty high. But for sure, it didn’t make me prioritise personality. Still, there were non-models too – I remember there was a teacher and an NGO worker too. Don’t get me wrong though. I’d always try to see the girls I was dating as marriage material, and they always seemed to have the potential – right up till the point that they didn’t. And then I’d make a run for it.
Meeting “The One”
When I met my current partner eight years ago, I had no idea it was going to end up becoming serious. After all, our starting point wasn’t the most promising. We met at a club. She was seven years younger. I’d had a lot of drinks before chatting her up, so it wasn’t romantic. But it ended up being my longest (and happiest) relationship to date. Oh, and no surprises here, she was a model (because I like to stick to what I know).
Late into the night, we spoke about random stuff and the meaning of life in the way only drunk and tired people can. And something she blurted out changed everything. “People can be happy wherever they find themselves,” she said. It was such a simple statement, but it’s something I feel has defined her and our relationship to this day.
I was stunned at how different she was from the girl I’d dated just before her. If my ex-girlfriend had taught me anything, it was that some people were determined to be unhappy – no matter where they were or who they were with.
When she was with her family, she quickly grew tired of them. But when she was away from them for too long, it didn’t make her happy either. At the beach, the water was never blue enough, and the skies too grey for a great Instagram photo. The buses were too loud, the food too greasy, the air too airy – well, you get the idea.
Being with someone who didn’t seem to find joy in anything – whether big or small – drove me insane. Undoubtedly, she was going through her own issues, but constantly trying to make a chronically unhappy person happy is a thankless, full-time job. It got to the point where I relished going out for drinks with her because it was the only time she seemed happy. While alcohol can take the sting out of a tough situation, I knew that was no way to live. Stumbling drunkenly from bar to bar isn’t as much a lifestyle as it is a symptom of something terribly wrong.
But here was this new girl, telling me it didn’t take much for her to find happiness anywhere. And when she started talking about working two jobs outside of modelling, and wanting to enroll into university as a mature student, I was sold. Here was a girl who had ambition – someone who knew she had to make her own way after her shelf life as a model expired. She was so unlike many of the models I knew, who saw marrying well as the back-up plan. It was refreshing, and I was hooked. That was when I decided I wanted to see her again.
Becoming a one-woman man
So I did – a bunch of times. A few months later, she moved her stuff into my spartan shoebox apartment. And I found out, she wasn’t lying about being happy anywhere. She definitely makes the best of every situation she finds herself in. She dressed my space up and made it cosy, and whenever I complain that it’s too small, she finds something good to say about it. Sometimes her eternal optimism bugs me. But I know I’m still better off with it than without. But I guess that’s a long-term relationship for you – the stuff you started out loving about that person will probably start to grate. It’s like the surprise ending of a film. But unlike a film, life goes on after the credits roll.
So how do we deal when familiarity starts to breed contempt? I’d say: Have a life outside your relationship. Spend some time with other people. it’d be great if your partner could be everything, but the truth is, that’s asking a lot. Better to have a circle of good friends, and not put it all on your relationship. Oh, and once in a while, book a hotel room – just the two of you. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Real relationships are messy. Do I pine for for the days of being single and having a chance to chat up Meghan Markle? Nope. Not a chance. Being single sucked. Even having been in a relationship for as long as I have – long enough for the sheen to fade and be replaced by the rusting, beaten-down carcass of what it once was – I’d still take this over being single, any day.
Don’t I miss getting prepped for dates, the excitement of meeting new girls, or the endless possibilities of going on the prowl at night scouring the cityscape for hot women? Well, I definitely don’t miss making the wrong moves and looking like a desperate creep, being that guy at the bar that some girl just really wants to get away from, and adding girls on social media who don’t add you back. It’s a gauntlet of rejection, and if you’re in a relationship, you’ve beat the guantlet and are the champion Maze Runner. Congrats. Buy yourself a cake.
Real relationships take time, blood and sweat – to know someone well enough that you can live a lifetime with them. And that’s where I am with my partner. She did find a life after modelling – as an interior designer. Which showed me she’s got grit and determination. I admire that, and it makes me feel like together, we can take on the world.
So, trying to figure all that out with a new girl? No thanks, I’ve got my very own princess.
This story was first published in the May 2018 issue of Her World magazine.