Preface: I wrote this as part of my upcoming self-development workbook. Although I generally I don't publish material from this book online since it's not done or out yet, I felt that when it comes to discussing relationships this is something so many of us can benefit from reading.
As you face a new year and wonder either where the relationship you're in is going, or maybe when on earth you'll finally find the love you're hoping to find, remember these words. This is written from a place of having many years of those feelings and what I learned during those sometimes trying and often lonely times. Be encouraged!
This lesson will resonate with women who are twenty-two, women who are thirty-five, women who are painfully single, women who are recovering from the wreck of divorce, women who are hopeless romantics, women who have all but given up hope, and women who swing from date to date like a kid on the monkey bars, for each and every one of us is wondering, “where in the hell is he?” We have, more than once, exclaimed in the words of Charlotte on Sex and the City, “I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted! Where is he?!”
I wish I could tell you. I wish I could promise that the blind date you have set up for Friday is going to knock your socks off, sweep you off your feet, and your life will never be the same. But here’s the thing: Even if I could promise you that, “never be the same” does not mean happier, healthier, or more fulfilled. The truth is, finding “the one” has nothing to do with those things.
My best friend and I had a conversation recently in which she said those very words we’ve all uttered. She said, “I just don’t understand guys and I’m really frustrated that I can’t find someone strong enough to be with me.”
Now, she had one thing right and that’s “strong enough.” These are words from a woman who has gleaned some wisdom from dating men who didn’t necessarily love her for her, just as she is. She learned to love herself and to be herself no matter what, bringing her best to the table, knowing someone, somewhere, someday is better than the wrong person, right here, today. What lacks from this perspective are two things. First, that she’s looking to “find.” It’s like they say, a watched pot never boils. You can’t look for love. And I’m not going to throw cliches at you - you’ll find it the minute you stop looking - and all that. Because you know what? You might not. Which brings me to my second point. My friend is asking the wrong question. The question isn’t, “Will I die alone?” The question is, “How will I live a fulfilled life within the bounds of what I can control?”
And no, don’t try to tell me finding love is something you can control. Yes, you can be active in the community, increasing your chances of meeting interesting people, one or several of whom you may date. But again, you may not. The intention behind being active in the community should not be to “find love,” for that truly is something beyond your control. The intention should be to try new things (Rock climbing! Pottery!) or to participate in something you enjoy doing (Yoga! Wine tasting club!), or even to do something to better the world around you (Habitat for Humanity!). Because those are the things that will make your life brighter and shinier. Working in a job you like, or even love, will make your life brighter and shiner too, as will curating a home where you feel nurtured, as will being healthy and fit, as will having something to reach for that drives your days, and surrounding yourself with friends of strong character. And you know what? Brighter and shiner may attract that man who is bright and shiny enough to fit in. Or, one more time, it may not. And if it doesn’t, the good news is, you’re living a bright and shiny life!
Do you get what I’m saying? You don’t need a man to complete you. Sure, even in the brightest, shiniest, most friend-filled lives there is still some loneliness. To quote my very favorite book, White Oleander, “loneliness is the human condition.” I don’t have the answer for poof-ing away your loneliness. Though I will suggest you consider this: even people in happy marriages find themselves lonely sometimes. Which is why that quote is followed by the harsh but honest advice, “get used to it.” Finding The One will not be the end of your lonely days.
And there’s just another reason to live a life you love. Period.