If I’m being totally and completely honest, my main goal in life has always been to find ‘The One.’ This may come as a shock to some, because I know I come off as incredibly ambitious. But my ambitions were merely a distraction from my lonely reign of singledom for seven long years. Although, if my goal really was simply to meet the love of my life, perhaps I shouldn’t have chosen a career path like musical theatre… Anyway, I digress. Before my lovely fiancé Adam showed up, I focused a lot of time and energy on relationships. When I wasn’t in one, I was looking for one. When I was in one, I was trying my hardest to fit a square peg in a round hole of my ‘ideal man’ and prove this guy was the one. Anyone who’s been single as long as I have is privy to the experience of all of your coupled friends giving you sage advice on how to find the love of your life and be happy just like they are with their partner.
First off, let me address something very important. Finding yourself in a relationship in no way makes you suddenly an expert on relationships. It’s not a prize you earned because you somehow figured it out and your poor single friend didn’t. People jump into relationships for lots of reasons, and sometimes they aren’t the healthiest. But, it is so hard as a person in a relationship not to smugly smile at your single friend, pat them on the shoulder and say, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll find someone.’ I’m guilty of that one myself. For any friends I’ve done that to before, consider this my public apology. I thought since I spent the better part of my 20s perpetually single, and have in fact found myself with a lovely man I can confidently call ‘The One,’ it would be fun to go over the advice I got from friends and see how it all panned out… Let’s go!
‘You’ll find him when you’re not looking’
I remember me and my friend being puzzled by this one. Our lives were so full and busy, I remember her saying ‘How much busier do I need to get? Do I have to buy a chia pet?’ It’s so funny to think the one second you announce ‘FUCK MEN’ the love of your life is going to perk his ears up, interrupt the conversation he’s having with someone and run through an airport to find you and fall hopelessly in love with you. That’s how that romantic story goes, right? I don’t know if I can honestly say I ever stopped looking. Sure, the dating apps would come and go from my phone, but I think my little beacon was always sending a signal through the ether that I was looking. Even those rare moments where I wasn’t looking, I would immediately think, ‘Oh my god! I am totally not looking for a guy right now! I’m probably gonna meet him soon!’ and then immediately be looking all over again. So do you have to magically find yourself in such a state of perpetual bliss that you forget the existence of romantic partners altogether? I don’t think so. I do, however, think there is a benefit in your life to releasing the choke hold around any goal, dream, or ambition.
Trying to remember back to the day I met Adam, I wasn’t looking in maybe the ten seconds before I got a text from my friend wanting to set us up. But that’s it. Just two weeks before I was trying to convince myself this awful man who very clearly hated women was potentially the one. I’d imagine telling the story of how we met, ‘Well, the first night I stayed over he popped a Melatonin and put in ear plugs and immediately destroyed all opportunity for heartfelt pillow talk. But, oh, once he came around he was so considerate!’ So obviously I’d learned nothing and was still on the hunt.
Whatever happens, meeting the one will always surprise you. But it’s not the actual meeting that’s the surprise. The surprise is the ease with which you two get together. You suddenly try to see each other as often as possible, and text without worrying about scaring them off, and have sex when it feels right, and become exclusive when that feels right. It all happens so easily that us coupled folks may look back and think we weren’t looking at the time. Because frankly, we didn’t know what we were looking for. Until you’ve been in an equitable, loving relationship, it’s hard to know what that feels like.
‘You have to love yourself before loving someone else’
Y’all. I love myself. I’ve been feelin’ myself for a looooong time. I’m a generally centered, confident lady. Of course I still look in the mirror woefully poking my ‘stomach pooch,’ and I sometimes still worry what people think. But my insecurity has always been that I was the best and no one noticed. So, I loved myself the whooooole time I was single. And look where that got me?! What I would say would be valuable is the same thing I say for any goal, dream, or ambition. Get happy NOW. Thinking that a relationship, or that promotion, or that fancy pair of shoes is going to single handedly make you happy is, I’m sorry to say… not true. I met Adam, the love of my life, we very quickly fell in love, and suddenly all of my romantic anxieties vanished… and reappeared in other parts of my life! You can’t escape them! Nothing external will solve a problem. So, no, the secret isn’t loving yourself. The secret is enjoying your life now. Especially if you’re single. For all you know, you may fall in love with a man who hates dancing like I did. So enjoy it while you can! And have fun dancing alone because you might be doing it alone forever thanks to the wet blanket you just fell in love with. I kid, I kid. But truly, what do you do that excites you? What makes you happy? Not only will you magically be happier, but you’ll also be an interesting AF person to date. And in case your future love doesn’t have similar interests, you can enjoy them by yourself anyway. And if your life is already full and happy and you know you don’t need a relationship, it would just be a cherry on top of a beautiful life sundae… then let me say, I don’t know when this person is coming, but DANG they’re gonna love the crap out of you.
‘When you meet the love of your life, you’ll KNOW.’
This is half true. Like I’ve said before, dating ‘The One’ or a good partner for you is easy. It should be easy. I’m not referring to external obstacles like living in different cities or having opposite schedules. I’m saying it should feel easy in spite of that. When I met Adam, he told me that very night that he travels a lot and I’d have to be okay with that. He was leaving for a three week contract in nine days. We saw each other six out of those nine days, and by the end he had already initiated a conversation about exclusivity. He was on a cruise ship with terrible service for three weeks, and we still managed to stay in contact every day. That is the ‘easy’ I’m referring to. Any games or withholding from either of you as a way to ‘win’ the other person is a bad sign. I have never had any doubts in my relationship about how this man felt about me. He made it clear, and he still makes it clear every day. He’s not insane about it. We aren’t hopelessly addicted to each other. But each step of our relationship has felt easy and inevitable. And I personally think that should be the bar.
Now, for the part that isn’t true. Is meeting the love of your life like a lightning bolt into your heart, the music slows, a light shines down from above, and a chorus of angels sing ‘There they are!'? ...I don’t think so. And I think waiting for a lightning bolt to magically show you the way in any aspect of your life is dangerous. If anything, my ‘knowing’ about Adam started with a tiny tickle the night we met, followed by days of anxiety. Adam was so clear in his affection for me, and I was so used to having to decipher the tiniest of text messages and signs from other men that I was scared. I was terrified that this guy was falling for me and I may not feel the same way. I was afraid I was going to hurt this sweet guy who my friend set me up with. And then I had a conversation with our matchmaker friend that I remember clear as day, and everything changed. He asked how things were going, and I said ‘It’s good, but he plans everything out and he paid for everything on our date.’ My friend shrugged and said ‘That’s because he’s a man.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but he wrote down my birthday and my favorite flower.’ And he said, ‘That’s because he’ll forget.’ And for whatever reason, my friend’s nonchalance cured my fears. I had another date with Adam, asked more about his ideal day and what he wants out of life, and started to fall hard for him. Even then, it would take another month for me to truly know he was the one. But still, a month is preeeetty fast, and plenty of people have taken longer to acknowledge that. So you see? Lightning bolts do not equal love. They usually equal some pretty serious sexual attraction, and I would get on that if you can because life is short! But don’t confuse that with love.
‘Make sure they’re a good partner’
Okay, this is my advice. I know, I know, I’m doing that thing that couples do to single people that I absolutely hate. But if there was one thing I could say to all single friends, it would be this. The love of your life, your life partner, your husband, your wife, whatever. They won’t just be a relationship. They become an entity and a foundation in your life. What I love about Adam is we always refer to the life we are ‘building’ together. And I think that’s the best way to think about it. To take all romance away and be completely practical… How are they with money? How would they be if either of you lost a job? Would they be there for you if you’re terribly sick? What kind of parent will they be? (If you want kids…) How will they be if we have trouble having kids? How do we fight together? The happiest of couples can be stopped dead in the face of these questions. Because a life partner is different. It’s not very sexy, but knowing Adam is good with money is a huge plus for me. And knowing we would both be able to figure out life without a job or help each other through loss is a huge deal. The vows may be outdated but ‘in sickness and in health’ and ‘for richer or poorer’ are there for a reason. Life is a big MESS. And a lot of stuff will get thrown at you. Some you will see coming, like the loss of a parent. And some you’ll be completely blindsided by, like a loss of a job. Can you still stand the sight of your partner through all of this? Could you two not only build but rebuild together? Those I think are the key questions to keep in mind. And neither of you may be equipped for those right out of the gate, but take a good long look at your partner. Do they support you no matter what? Do they lift you up? Can you ask them for help or support? Can they ask you?
And if there’s any thing I can say on the other side of being in a relationship I could tell little ol’ single me, it would be to worry less. If I had just gone out, met people, enjoyed their company for as long as it was right, filled my days with fun and friends, it would have been so much better! Maybe you’re not as obsessed as I was with meeting someone, and I hope you’re not. The big question to ask yourself is, if you know that this relationship is for sure happening, what would you do today? Would you worry? Or go enjoy yourself? So go do a dance party for yourself today, listen to your favorite songs, and know that your partner is there. And guess what? They’re looking for you, too! Don’t worry, you’ll find each other (I smugly say as I put my hand condescendingly on your shoulder).