I write this post because when I was single, I was always looking for sound advice from those who had figured it out, and I always felt let down in some way. Either the person giving the advice had a relationship that ultimately ended. Or their advice felt very unreachable and inaccessible. I also read and personally received lots of suggestions and performed almost every suggestion I ever received, all to no avail. Finally, after a certain point, I just stopped reading articles like this because I was so frustrated and depressed about my situation, that I actually felt worse hearing hopeful hints of advice from smug relationship-y people. If you are at that point, or if you are before or after that point, this article still might be for you. I will give you the hard (but loving) truth and I hope that in this truth, you will actually find the hope you need to keep moving forward, taking deliberate and necessary action to finally end the hell of cyclical singleness.
HARD (OR RATHER SOFT) TRUTH #1: IT’S OKAY TO DESPERATELY WANT LOVE
First, I think it’s important to admit that there is nothing wrong with wanting to find love. When we are unable to find love, we do all kinds of things to harden ourselves and convince ourselves that we don’t need and want to find love. I include the word “need” here because everyone needs love and everyone deserves love. I always hated when people would say to me, “You don’t need love, you want it.” And I would always feel like, “Umm, NO, I think I need it.” Not because I was empty or broken, but because in order to live a full life, love and partnership are really key components. If you like being single, then of course, this doesn’t apply. But for anyone who is searching for a long-term, loving relationship, it’s okay to admit you “need” it in order to feel truly happy. But again, this is hard to admit. Because, honestly, if we start thinking about how much we need love, we become even more impatient and desperate for it. Goddesses, it’s totally okay to feel desperate. There may not be any way around it, because the hard truth is, it is really, really difficult when you want to have a loving partner and you just can’t find the right one. It sucks. It can actually make us physically sick, depressed, and anxious, among other things. When I was single, I had plenty of lovely friends and a loving family–a true support network. But even that didn’t save me from my desperate feelings of loneliness, frustration, and longing for love. There is so much shame in our culture about having these feelings, and I know they aren’t pretty. But, it’s okay. You are a human being with a beating heart and love to give. Of course you will be feeling pain and desperation at this stage. It’s okay and you don’t need to conquer these feelings in order to find love. I promise, you can carry them with you and just shift yourself a bit, that’s all.
Melodramatic, but lovely, self-portrait collage I created after a “break-up” with someone silly. I took these pictures of myself while I was crying hysterically, really just living it up with the tears (which felt really good). But now that I have distance from this situation, I see that this particular person was still important because he was part of my journey, even though he was also absolutely ridiculous and no one to really be taken seriously. But it’s okay. I share this without shame because this was part of my path and it’s sacred. Your path is just as sacred, so don’t feel ashamed about any of it.
HARD TRUTH #2: YOU NEED TO GO ON DATES, AND LOTS OF THEM
Let me start by saying that if you are someone who is going on dates all of the time and you are still frustrated and single, just hang in there, keep reading, and wait until you get to my HARD TRUTH #3.
For those of you who aren’t really going on dates, or who perhaps go on dates here and there, this HARD TRUTH #2 is important.
Dating sucks. It sucks ass. There’s no way around it. I have been told by some that dating is supposed to be “fun,” but I have never found that to be the case. Maybe if you are a person not looking for a loving partnership, but are just kind of playing around, okay, I guess dating could be “fun.” But for those of you who are seriously looking for love, dating is lame and terrible and awkward and the worst. And unfortunately, in order to find love, I have found that you just HAVE to date and there really is no way around this.
Coffee Meets Bagel app logo. When I was dating, I found that this app had the best quality of people to choose from (people truly looking for relationships) and was also very date oriented (rather than hook-up oriented). You can’t converse with someone unless you both like each other, so that’s very helpful when it comes to weeding out some of the debris and confusion. Then you have seven days to chat before you are cut off, meaning you have to exchange info before then and hopefully make plans for an actual date. I recommend this app to anyone dating, but also, more than anything, I recommend you trust your gut and follow what works for you. My cousin met his beloved wife on e-Harmony and my friend met her husband on Match. These couples are still together 🙂
For years and years and years I allowed myself to follow false Rom-Com inspiration and harbored under the illusion that I could meet someone at Whole Foods, or at a party with friends, or at another “naturally social” place. I’m not saying that this can’t happen. But, this wasn’t happening for me. Years and years went by and it just wasn’t happening. And I clung to this “naturally social” idea because I really, really, really didn’t want to date. Because dating is the most unnaturally social experience in existence. It’s just wrong (until it’s right). I had gone on a handful of online dates before and they were always nightmares, so I wanted to do anything to avoid going back to that process. I actually kept a list of all of my dating nightmares and am happy to go through a semi-traumatic walk down memory lane if this will make you feel less alone on your journey.
Just to name a few…
- Guy who asked me out on a date, bought me a drink, bought me dinner, and then proceeded to talk about his girlfriend all throughout the meal. NO.
- Guy who was very nice but talked about himself the entire time. Literally did not ask me one question about myself and when I offered up information it was as if he actually didn’t hear me and just continued on with his monologue. NO.
- Guy who I wasn’t that attracted to but was considering, until he asked me why I don’t dye my hair to cover up my natural gray. NO.
- The ridiculous one I talked about above who had actual mental disorders and who would disappear for weeks or even months at a time, only to resurface again, full-blast and wanting to marry me. NO.
- Really nice and cute guy who got pretty drunk on our second date, stumbling back to his car. Then a few days later, texted me super drunk and depressed. NO.
- Guy I dated for several months and who FLIPPED OUT when I (playfully) asked if I was his girlfriend. He literally became irate and said and I quote, “This sucks, just so you know.” It sucks to have a beautiful woman on your couch wanting to be your girlfriend? We are grown adults and at the very least, I wanted to know if I was the only person he was being intimate with. A grown woman has EVERY right to know this as early as she fucking wants to. He was incapable of having an adult relationship conversation and verbally abused me for simply asking the question. Hell NO!
- Guy who was super controlling and who also wouldn’t let the gray hair thing go. NO.
- Guy who I met up with and who I could tell was super horny. It made me really uncomfortable and I made clear to him that I wasn’t going to go home with him and that I’m just getting to know him. He then proceeded to go into the bathroom and text me flirty things, hoping I would go in there and join him. When he came out and I told him he was making me uncomfortable, he apologized profusely and then invited me back to his place. Whaa? NO.
- Guy who was super nice via chat, quickly asked me out on a date after a few days of back and forth getting to know you, and who was super nice on the date. The conversation flowed and I was completely myself around him. I wasn’t 100% certain about him, but he had beautiful eyes and a smile that lit up the room. He was respectful, honest, open, asked me questions about myself and offered up real information about himself. YES. [This is how the date with the person I’m with now felt. Very different from the others. But I had to experience the others in order to appreciate the subtle, but notable differences, that occurred on this date.]
First date scene from The Invention of Lying, 2009
You can see there is a bit of a pattern here, with the exception of the last example. Lots and lots of NO’s in order to get to a YES. Unfortunately, NO’s are a HUGELY, invaluable, and incredibly necessary part of this process. So, it might help to take the whole dating thing a bit less seriously if you know that you are going to go on a bunch of joke dates for a while. I used to hope before every date that I was about to meet my soulmate, and then would be utterly disappointed and crushed when one of the bullshit deal-breaker events from above took place. By the time I met #9 (actually, if I count everyone, he’s #21, but I only gave you an abridged list above), I was a bit more relaxed, still taking everything very seriously, but not having as many expectations for success. For the most part, before each date, I basically began anticipating it would be a no-go, and that seemed to help.
HARD TRUTH #3: IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO DATE A LOT–YOU HAVE TO DATE LIKE A GODDESS
What is the difference between dating like a goddess and dating like someone on their way to discovering their goddess-ness? For one thing, goddesses say NO…a lot. It takes a lot of courage to say NO on a date and/or during the dating process. It takes courage to say NO to a potential person, even in your own mind, because it means letting go of the dream of finding someone in order to hold out for something better, and for something you know you deserve. Many, many times I have said YES to someone or some situation that was not right or that felt not good, and through the process of dating, I learned the art of saying NO, even if the person I was dating was really, really close to what I was looking for. It always comes back to self-love and what you deserve. Imagine the people in your life who you love very much and who love you. Now think about how they treat you and how they make you feel. If the person you are dating doesn’t make you feel this way, then it is probably best to say NO. If the person you are dating treats you (even subtly) like shit, you need to say NO and move on. This is very hard, I know. Sometimes you have to date a person for a bit of time before something unacceptable happens. This is frustrating because it feels like wasted time. It’s not. It’s part of the process. It’s also hard because your heart gets involved when you begin to date someone, and no one wants to break their heart over and over again. I will say though that everyone I dated that was a NO, never broke my heart, really, because there was no real love in the situation. Also know that saying YES to someone not quite right doesn’t make you a masochist, and doesn’t mean you don’t love yourself. You say YES sometimes because you really, really want to find love, and saying NO to an opportunity that’s sitting right in front of you is very hard. Do it anyway. It’s the only way to make your way to YES.
It takes even more courage to say NO when you are face to face with a person who is making you uncomfortable. It takes courage because you have to trust that the person sitting across from you will treat you with respect in the face of your NO. And many times, the respect is just not there. I am going to enter into stereotype-mode for a moment and say that many, many men out there don’t like when a woman says NO. They don’t like when a woman is confident and they don’t like when a woman has respect for herself. They don’t like to be challenged and they don’t like not getting what they want. If you are dealing with a man who acts like this, he is 100% a NO. A YES man will love when you are confident, when you express your needs and/or your discomfort (they love it because they WANT to readjust to make you more comfortable), when you are honest, and when you have healthy boundaries.
A YES MAN WILL NEVER MAKE YOU FEEL BAD FOR SAYING NO OR FOR SPEAKING UP FOR YOURSELF. HOLD OUT FOR THIS MAN. EVEN IF YOU’RE IN YOUR LATE 30’s OR EARLY 40’s AND YOU ARE WORRIED YOUR EGGS ARE DYING. I KNOW, IT SUCKS, BUT AREN’T YOU WORTH IT?
HARD TRUTH #4: YOU NEED TO LEARN TO THINK AND LIVE LIKE A GODDESS IN ORDER TO FIND AND KEEP LASTING LOVE
Don’t worry, this isn’t as hard as you think. Okay, well maybe it’s kind of hard, but it makes all the difference.
My goddess journey began one evening after I went on a lousy date with someone and got into my car after saying an awkward-date goodbye. Something in me just snapped and I started to just feel really fed up, angry, and frustrated. But this time, there wasn’t a sadness underneath my frustration. There was a feeling of empowerment. I felt like “I don’t care if I’m single forever, I’m totally over dating gross idiots! I’m over it!” I never thought I would feel that way about men, but all of a sudden I did, and it felt really good. I felt a weight lift and I felt like I wasn’t chained to their opinion of me. I felt like “I don’t care if men like me or not, I’m going to be myself no matter what, and if they don’t like it, THEY are the problem!” I am guilty of putting men on pedestals for many, many years of my life. And in this moment, I knocked them off the pedestal I had them on, in order to see them for who they really were. Men can be gross, men can be cruel, men can be cowardly, men can be disrespectful. Also, men are just as lost and desperate and confused as we are. Men are just people. They are not gods and they are not worth me losing myself over. After that I took a break from dating for just a bit and continued to feel very strongly compelled to put myself before men. And in doing this, I realized how often I had put men before myself, for most of my life. During this time, I never took my eye off of my search for love, because of course I still wanted it. I never gave up. I just shifted. And unfortunately, I don’t think I would have ever reached that point if it weren’t for a string of terrible dates.
A fantastic way to slightly shift your perspective and turn your attention just a smidge away from the importance of your love life (it’s okay, and it can still be your top priority, and it’s okay to think about it every day and to work towards finding someone every day), is by thinking about your life in terms of spokes on a wheel. It was definitely a process for me to loosen my grip on my love life, just a little, and shift my perspective to a more goddess-esque view. This shift was honestly just me learning to have gratitude for the love I already had in my life. For years, I definitely took for granted the place that my family and friends had in my life. I loved them and appreciated them so much, but I still felt like none of it mattered until I found love. And it can be really helpful and actually deepen your already close relationships, by shifting your perspective, just a bit. At the very least, trust that this is an act of a goddess. Do this because this is what goddesses do.
Draw a wheel like this on a piece of paper and fill in all the spokes of your life. When you see your life from this perspective, romantic love is just ONE of many beautiful spokes. It’s important to do this so you don’t lose your balance during this horrendously strenuous and heart-wrenching time.
To close, here are a few affirmations (er, not necessarily affirmations, but more like positive and/or truthful statements) that I hope you take with you on your journey to love and partnership. I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but I send my love to you from the bottom of my heart, because I know what it’s like to be where you are.
SAYING NO TO SOMEONE WRONG IS ACTUALLY SAYING YES TO SOMEONE RIGHT.
IF YOU REALLY WANT TO FIND LOVE, YOU WILL FIND IT, BUT NOT ALWAYS ON YOUR TIME.
DATING IS HARD AND IT’S OKAY TO LOATHE IT. DO IT ANYWAY.
DON’T GIVE UP AND KEEP GOING. YOU ARE GETTING CLOSER.
WHEN YOU CHANGE WHAT YOU ACCEPT AND ALLOW IN YOUR LIFE, THE UNIVERSE RESPONDS ACCORDINGLY, SO IF YOU WANT LOVE, ONLY ACCEPT KIND, GENTLE, LOVING, HAPPY, HEALTHY MEN, AND YOU WILL BE AMAZED HOW QUICKLY LOVE FINDS YOU.
Sorry if you hate cats or if you hate cheesy things. I like cats and I am cheesy, so I posted this in an attempt to melt your heart just a bit. Either way, when you are dating, look for this kind of gentle, soft, kind, tender, patient, low-drama, delicate, non-intense, happy, comfortable, sweet feeling that these two kitties are emitting. Let these words and feelings guide you on your path. It’s not glamorous, but it is what love is made up of. Align with it, and you will align with love. Then, it can’t not find you.
Also, you gotta love Artemis. Never forget Artemis. She’s strong and soft, she’s wild and free. Her heart is open but she has healthy boundaries. She is a true goddess, and she is beautiful and lovable, just like you…