It’s Valentine’s Day again. My 6th consecutive Valentine’s Day as a single person and probably my happiest in a long time. It’s a day that always brings a bit of self-reflection for most of us single people. Questions about why we are not in a relationship, questions about how long we have not been in a relationship, questions about loneliness and happiness and our future prospects. It’s kind of inevitable unless you are completely unaware that it is February 14th. I am aware and this post is my Happy Valentine’s Day to myself and to you.
I thought this might be a good day to launch a new series here and on social media — I’ve decided to share some of my thoughts on dating as a single parent and also dating in your 40’s. Not sure what to call it, feel free to leave suggestions for me. I don’t have the most experience and I certainly don’t have all the answers but there is value in sharing authentic life stories. You can decide which parts you agree with, which parts you want to set aside, and maybe which parts you want to take issue with. Mostly, I hope you will find out that you are not alone.
In the fall of 2018, after a year of really taking the time to take care of myself emotionally, I found myself in what I called the In Between. I was feeling called to sit with myself quietly and put words to my emotions and a large part of it related to being single. After so many years of struggling with heartbreak that brought confusion, distrust and fear of being alone, I finally discovered that I can be lonely and still happy. The peace that came with that discovery was life-changing.
Loneliness is just a layer. And when I focused on that layer, it felt as big as the ocean. When I decided that I was going to start feeding my soul and focus on becoming the best me, the best mom and the best friend that I could be, my focus switched and that layer of loneliness no longer seemed so deep and vast and yes, hopeless.
Am I still lonely? Absolutely. Yes, I have my kid and friends and family and those relationships are so fulfilling. But there is a part of me, and I would argue that there is a part of all of us, that wants to be desired and chosen by someone who is not just a friend and admired and respected by someone who is not family.
I’ve never been someone who chases a romantic relationship but I have definitely found myself many times worrying a relationship in my mind. Know what I mean? When you are so hungry for connection and you think there is a potential romantic situation but it doesn’t quite move in the direction or speed that you think it should so you run down every possible mental path and rethink everything you said or texted…you worry that situation to death! It’s exhausting, right?
Part of this new me has allowed me to be easier on myself. Realizing that I am complete and happy, on my own two feet and alone, has made me relax and think about what I really want and need in future relationships. Questioning my why regarding dating is something that I keep coming back to.
I’ll explain it like this: A guy recently asked me, “What would be your number one reason to date someone right now?” Without hesitation I responded, “To spend meaningful, quality time with someone. I’m not on a hunt for a life partner anymore. I don’t even know if I believe that you should have that as a goal. But, I’m also not interested in shallow relationships.”
I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and my beliefs around my desires and needs have morphed a lot. I think there are significant relationships that are what we think of as life partner type relationships. Obviously, we are never guaranteed a happy ever after and so when those relationships end, we tend to emerge thinking that we need to find another one. And in between finding that next major relationship, anything else is casual, temporary, just getting by without letting the dry spell go too long. But, in fact, those in between relationships could be very meaningful. If we know our why, we should be more successful in getting what we want out of all of those experiences. Out of respect for our heart and personal development, it is important to do all the soul work, hard as it may be on a continual basis. So whether I date someone for a month, or three months, or a year, it will be something that teaches me and informs me and hopefully is more good than bad for me and the other person.
Dating is at times spectacular but most of the time awkward. It is at times fun but sometimes funny. Sometimes it is easy but often it is hard. It is always a learning experience and best enjoyed when happy. If your why for dating is because you feel like you are incomplete or unhappy without a relationship, my wish for you is that you find happiness on your own first. It might not feel easy but the discovery is worth the journey. You are worth the journey.
I’d love to hear from you. Tell my your why when it comes to dating, do you know what it is yet? Has it changed?