Former POTUS and FLOTUS Barack and Michelle Obama will always be the president and first lady of #CoupleGoals to us. Even after being relieved of their civic duties, the Obamas are still leading the people in how to deliver the most likable of social-media shoutouts (see: Valentine's Day) and the sweetest snapshots of couple getaways. In our book, Obama is even the president of Instagram husbands after snapping a photo of his wife on vacay. But, as it turns out, there was almost another woman in Michelle Obama's FLOTUS shoes. (Can you even imagine?!) The news just hit that former president Barack Obama previously proposed to another woman before meeting Michelle, and we are shook.
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In author David Garrow's new book, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, an ex-girlfriend of the former president reveals that Obama popped the question to her back in the day. "In the winter of '86, when we visited my parents, he asked me to marry him," says Sheila Miyoshi Jager, the almost-FLOTUS, according to The Washington Post.
However, Jager ultimately turned down Obama's proposal. She was just 23 years old at the time, and her mother thought she was too young to tie the knot. "Not yet," she reportedly told him. (We can't be the only ones envisioning her prefacing that with a "Thanks, Obama," can we?)
Despite the rejected marriage proposal, the couple stayed together, although Obama's growing political ambition began to take its toll on the relationship. The future president would "compartmentalize his work and home life," says Jager, which soon had an isolating effect on the pair.
Race reportedly also played a role in the couple's eventual demise, and Jager (a woman of Dutch and Japanese ancestry) supposedly didn't fit into the political narrative. Garrow reports a source who recalls Obama explaining that "the lines are very clearly drawn.… If I am going out with a white woman, I have no standing here." Despite all of the affection between the pair, Garrow reflects, "he felt trapped between the woman he loved and the destiny he knew was his."
And as destiny would have it, the pair eventually split. But just before heading to Harvard Law School—a path that would later lead to Barack and Michelle's introduction at a Chicago law firm—Obama asked Jager to come with him and tie the knot. "Mostly, I think, out of a sense of desperation over our eventual parting and not in any real faith in our future," Jager muses in the book.
But, as she had already planned a research trip to Seoul, Jager (now a professor of East Asian studies at Oberlin College) refused to put her career on hold for his. After continuing to date on and off during his time in law school—and with a new woman in Obama's life (hint, hint, Michelle)—the couple finally went their separate ways.
Umm, what?! Is anyone else straight-up shocked by this revelation?
This story originally appeared on Brides.
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