We’ve all been there: You’re passing by a pond or a puddle or a forest stream when something catches your eye. You bend over for a closer look and BAM! You’re nose to nose with the most beautiful face you’ve ever seen. Could it be? you think. Is she real? As you gaze deeper and deeper into the eyes of this ravishing stranger, you only become more convinced that your days of disappointing Tinder dates and lonely Dance Moms marathons are through. This is it, you think, I’ve finally found The One.
And for a while, that seems to be the case. One of the most painful things about being attracted to your own mirror image in a liquid surface is that, at the start, everything seems perfect. You love all the same things, laugh at all the same jokes… Even if a part of you deep inside thinks that maybe this person is just me reflected in a backyard kiddie pool, it’s easy to overlook those doubts when the connection is so strong.
Sometimes others notice the red flags before you do. Rachel M. was so in love, she couldn’t even hear her roommate’s warnings. “She would be like, ‘Rachel, what are you doing? That’s just your reflection in the toilet.’ Or ‘Come on, Rachel, I need to use the toilet.’…I thought she was just jealous.”
Denial can be a powerful thing. You may think This time is different. This is not at all like the time I spent six weeks kneeling over a bucket of rainwater. This is love. But sooner or later, a little voice in the back of your head wonders, If this is my one true love, why do I feel so self-conscious around her? And why have I never seen her blink?
The important thing to remember is not to beat yourself up. Just because you fell head over heels for what turned out to be (once again) your face reflected in shopping mall wishing well, it doesn’t mean you should give up hope. What it may mean is that you need to shake up your patterns. After Tanya L. proposed to herself in a dormant geyser (a mistake that nearly cost her an eye), she knew she had to make a change. These days, when she comes across a babbling brook or a manmade koi pond, she walks right by. “Sometimes when I’m getting a pedicure, I’ll look down into the foot bath and think, ‘Ooo, who’s that?’ But then very quickly I’m like, ‘No, Tanya. Not again.’”
Breaking patterns takes time, but eventually you’ll be able to go hot-tubbing or water skiing without worrying about getting your heart broken. Now you’ll be confident that the next time you fall in love, it’ll be the real thing. And believe me, true love is right around the corner. Oh wait, shit, that’s just me in a store window.