Names: Selma & Tayfun
Been together since: 2015
Life Before My Real Life…
I got married and moved to the States from Turkey in 2003. Unfortunately, it was an unhappy marriage. We went our separate ways and got divorced in 2010.
Everything about my life had to be built back from scratch. I was continents away from my family and this was a phase that I had to go through alone.
In the aftermath, I was mostly single.
I remained on ‘divorced’ mode for quite a while. Saying that, my inner voice was always telling me that although it would be a long wait, love would come to me and when it did, it would be truly amazing.
A very simple addition proved to be the turning point of my life: Hiking!
Hiking allowed me to magically find my mojo again. Slowly, the sunshine felt warmer. For a long time I did solo hikes then I started to join meet-ups and group hikes. The more I hiked, the lighter I felt.
It’s interesting to note that quite a few of my friends that I hike with have all gotten into very meaningful relationships. I feel that hiking and being in mother nature gives you a very interesting kind of energy, sets you on a positive path and delivers blessings.
So, although some changes were underway in general, emotionally I was still a bit of a robot. Previously, I was a typical Turkish girl; loving, full of passion and very sensitive to events surrounding my heart. Now, I was completely nonchalant and emotionless. I had forgotten what it felt like to care.
How We Met
I jumped on the online dating bandwagon. I had actually seen Tayfun’s profile before but had not reached out to him. One day he sent me a message saying, ‘Hello’.
I live in Virginia and Tayfun was in Baltimore. There’s quite a distance between the two and it’s around a 2 to 3-hour drive. On my profile, I had been very clear that I was looking for someone who lived in my area. Him not being in my area also pushed him out of my area of interest so I didn’t pay him too much attention. He disappeared with his tail between his legs.
Fast forward a few days into Saturday night. I was out with a girlfriend of mine having a few drinks. My phone buzzed and I saw that he had messaged me again. Looking to be entertained, I slipped into friend mode and wrote back. It turned out that he was also a little bit bored and looking to be entertained so we started talking to each other, but just as friends. There was no flirting.
During our conversation, I happened to mention that I was on my own in this country and that I had no family anywhere near me. When he heard this he paused and said, “You are not alone. If you ever need anything know that I am here for you.”
This hit me so hard that I started to cry.
It was at that moment that I realized that my heart had been starved for affection. The thought that somebody actually cared for me struck a terribly raw nerve I didn’t even know was there.
I hadn’t thought about him too much up until then – to me, he was just this guy. Men and relationships had not had great connotations for me in general for such a long time that I had put them all in the same ‘no-no’ category by default. But slowly I started to notice that there was something very different about him and that he didn’t belong in that category.
After that night we switched to having regular phone conversations. Our discussions were deep and beautiful. Officially, we were still chitchatting only as friends. Nevertheless, we decided to meet in person 15 days later.
The years of stress that I had to go through meanwhile had been channelled into eating and I felt like I had put on a few pounds lately.
I pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant and was trying to steer the car properly to park but I was not doing a very good job.
He was already there waiting for me. I recognized him from his photos.
Seeing him in person was very different to seeing him in a photograph though. For the first time, I became very aware of the fact that he was very attractive. He was a proper, handsome Black Sea man from Northern Turkey. Although I noticed that, my head was still not in the right place so my regular nonchalant mode was on. I was very relaxed.
What he was feeling, on the other hand, was very different. Apparently, the phone conversations we had before we met had moved him deeply. “I fell in love with your mind,” he told me later. So when he came to meet me, he was already in love with me.
One of the first things I noticed about him was that he was a considerate person and his attention was already on my well being. When he saw that I was struggling parking my car, he took care of it for me before we went inside to eat.
Dinner was very pleasant; we were there for hours! When it was time for coffee we went somewhere else and sat there for hours too, the conversation still flowing effortlessly.
I still hadn’t gotten in touch with my feelings and was hovering on the surface, just enjoying looking at him as he was so attractive. We said our goodbyes and parted ways that day.
I had taken some time off earlier to go to a yoga retreat so it took us a little over a week to meet up again because of this.
On our second date, we went to Shenandoah Park and hiked Old Rag. This hike takes you on a pretty high altitude and you have to scramble sheer rocks and squeeze through cave-passages. In addition to all of that, it usually begins later in the day so you can catch the sunset from the peak which means the descent is done in the dark.
It’s considered to be a pretty strenuous hike and he had neglected to tell me that he was afraid of heights. It was only when we got there that he admitted to the fact.
Coming down after sunset, we realized only later that we had forgotten our head torches. We finally used the torch on his phone and managed to make it back down before midnight. It was a hell of an adventure, but a really beautiful one.
Bless him, he suffered through all of that just for me.
From Online Dating to a Committed Relationship
Things progressed very swiftly for us and we had no doubts or brakes on. We were both mutually enthusiastic and found ourselves in a loving, committed relationship straight away. All the extra time we had went to hanging out together. We had so much in common that it was a pleasure to be around each other. Things were really easy as we got along really well. Every weekend we would take turns to commute to each other making sure that my cat was always taken care of. My cat, Efecan, was very important to me and Tayfun adored him too.
Unfortunately, things were not going so well on the other side of the world in Istanbul. His mother’s already fragile health was rapidly deteriorating.
Apparently, she had a history about being very picky about his girlfriends. She had not met me yet but he had told her about me on the phone. Interestingly, she told him that she liked the sound of me and that he should marry me.
Our introduction happened over Skype. We bonded easily and would have long conversations regularly. She would always congratulate me for getting myself such a fine young gentleman. I was terribly fond of her and called her ‘mother’. She was the sweetest lady.
Tayfun had already arranged a trip to Istanbul to see her before he met me so he went to see her as planned. She was diabetic and in constant need of care. His father had passed away years prior so both himself and his brother would always look after her. They ensured that she was carefully attended to by also hiring a full-time a caretaker.
I told Tayfun that we should move her to the States and that I would take care of her. When you love your man, you naturally want to take care of his mother.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. She couldn’t make it here.
My family are originally Yoruks who moved to Turkey from Central Asia. The Yoruks are originally shamanic. Having prophetic dreams runs in our family. Dreams always have significance and prophecies are revealed through symbolism.
I actually had a dream before she was hospitalized. In my dream Tayfun’s brother is supposed to take me to the airport but he doesn’t show up. I finally manage to reach him but he tells me to make my own way there. Next thing I know, I’m in a hospital ward. Tayfun’s mother is there and she’s brushing her hair.
The next morning Tayfun called me and to tell me that his mother had been taken to the hospital. I told him that I had a dream about her in a pink hospital ward. She passed away soon after.
A Man Always Knows From the Start…
Apparently, when Tayfun had returned from Istanbul, he had also brought back a ring with him that used to belong to his mother. That is what he handed to me when he proposed to me in Starbucks in November that year, a few months after we met. Don’t get me wrong, it was actually a very beautiful Starbucks and the ambiance was perfect.
Tayfun told me that he had had this on his mind from the get-go. It turns out he knew in his heart the moment he met me that I was his destiny and that he would marry me. He always tells me I am his until infinity.
Some changes were necessary for our new life together. He gave up his apartment and moved in to my place in Virginia for a few months until we got our own place.
We had a very private wedding ritual prior to our actual marriage. There were only three people in attendance: Myself, Tayfun and God. We unified ourselves by making a promise between the three of us.
For our formal marriage, we had a very small ceremony. It was actually just the two of us and it was beautiful.
Personally, I still can’t believe I’m married. It feels like a dream, so surreal. Life has put me through so much trauma, so much sadness that I find it really hard to believe that that very same life has now given me so much joy. I always offer my gratitude to God.
A week after we got married my cat, Efecan, became extremely unwell. We had to take him to the vet because his kidneys were failing. It was crushing to see him like that. I was devastated as he couldn’t make it and passed away. Only people who have that special bond with their pets will understand how crippling this was.
During that phase, Tayfun was my rock and the support he gave me was priceless.
He carried me right through it.
Love Changes Everything…
Tayfun actually himself is quite priceless. He is very genuine and considerate. Before making any decisions he will always discuss it with me, no matter how small it is.
Parenthood was something I was quite clear on. Due to childhood trauma, I had decided that I didn’t want any children and I didn’t want my husband to have any children from past relationships either. It was simply a case of not wanting to share him with anyone. Having these opinions, I believed it would be very unfair on any child who was in our lives. Brutal honesty with oneself is necessary in life. This was not a traditional way to think but it was my opinion and I felt strongly about it. He had also never gotten married and was childless.
Love has a way of transforming your opinions, even the ones you held onto tightly for many years. The love that we felt for each other put us in a different state of mind. For the first time ever we opened ourselves to the idea of having a child. We also had his mother encouraging us. She really wanted us to experience parenthood. I found myself longing for a little baby girl from him. Of course, things don’t always work out as planned and we were not able to conceive. Now we continue on our path as a small family of three; the two of us and our new cat.
We have a very strong connection. I will start a sentence and he will finish it. We are very tuned into each other and oftentimes it feels like we can read each other’s minds. I will get up to make us some coffee and he’ll already be in the kitchen making it for us. Our channels are very open and our communication flows because we’re very honest with each other.
There isn’t a single thing that we are unable to share with each other. If this openness and honesty was not there, our relationship also would not be there. This communication is the foundation which we built upon. It maintains the purity of our relationship.
This is not to say that it is easy to have all these discussions. But they’re important to have and we have them. It was a process we had to go through and we emerged out of that phase in harmony. We don’t do each other wrong, we are never unkind to each other, we steer clear of meanness.
I find that the relationships you get into earlier in life are very vulnerable. When love comes a little later in life you appreciate its true worth a lot more.
Finding Love and Keeping It Alive
If you’re looking for love I recommend that you don’t. To find love, all you need to do is open your heart and just surrender to whatever comes your way. You shouldn’t try to force it. Just fill your own heart with love and love will come to you. Your energy will attract similar energies. So fill yourself up with positive energy and surround that with love and you will magnetically pull the same towards yourself.
Keeping love alive and keeping your relationship going takes effort. When you have put so much blood, sweat, and tears into something, you value it. It is an insult to the heart and soul that you have put into this if you don’t make an effort to get through difficult times together.
I also don’t believe in people getting divorced after they have had a child. If there is a child in the picture, divorce is a selfish thing to do. Your priority and focus should always be on your child.
Another important thing to do is to handle problems as they arise. Letting resentment build up is a dangerous thing to do. It will be an explosive burden. So speak your mind even if your words might not be easy for your partner to hear. When it’s their turn to speak, listen to what the other person has to say without criticism. Try to regard them with objective eyes, respect their opinion and accept who they are. If you don’t speak your truth, I believe that to be a truly bad deed.
Being in love is such a wonderful feeling. It’s like being in the warm waters of the bluest sea and with every stroke there is perpetual bliss. It’s worth the wait and it is worth the fight to keep it.
(Interview & write-up by Bianca)
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