When you’re single, everyone bombards you with relationship advice.
Chief among it is, “Stop looking.”
I’ve tried that. But ultimately, it’s not for me. I’m inherently quixotic, and proud!
To stop “looking” is to stop enjoying the possibility of happiness with another person. To stop flirting, to stop having butterflies. I think too many of us get wounded after a harrowing break-up and just shut down and declare our hearts off-limits for too long. Or we get hung up on an ex and are oblivious to the new opportunities to have something even better. We try to take control by saying that we don’t need anyone, and become afraid of failure in our next relationship. And sadly, our reluctance to “get hurt” again is often what leads us to miss genuine opportunities to share again with someone who wants to be with us. They may be exactly what we need, but if we are convinced we’re “not looking,” we may not see them in time. People move on when you don’t let them in.
And truth is, I enjoy the search! It enlivens me.
To me, it’s worth it. Yes, it can be exhausting and demoralizing at times. But gosh, it’s also exalting, silly and GOOD for us. The hope of finding something extraordinary– even if it’s not permanent– is good enough for me. It feels incredible to care about someone else– to give without expecting anything in return. To admire and respect someone and embrace their faults– and yours. To let go. To trust.
You can always play it safe and remain unattached and single. You won’t get hurt– and you won’t be loved, either.
Yes, I’ve been hurt. My feelings have been unrequited. I’ve been dumped. But I’ve also hurt, and that doesn’t make me a terrible woman. We are bound to hurt someone, simply by being honest and making decisions about who we want to become involved with– or not.
I don’t hate anyone who I’ve become involved with– and I wish them well. I’m grateful to them for caring, for showing me parts of myself that I was unaware of– good and bad. For taking me on stupid dates and posh ones. For holding my hand, calling me in the middle of the day, sending flowers, picking me up at the airport, for caring about my writing and believing in me even when I didn’t. For listening to me and remembering details. For leaving me voice mails while singing songs, and playing guitar. For cooking for me. For making my friends jealous. For telling me to reject shame and take risks, to be proud of who I am. For complimenting my character, intelligence, and treating me like a lady. For making dirty jokes and checking me out and making me feel like a woman! For writing gushy PDA things on my wall or even gasp– MySpace! For writing songs for me, sending love letters, meeting my parents, and making an effort to get to know my friends. For giving me little gifts that make me blush with surprise and delight. For reading and commenting on my blogs, and talking about my column with me. For picking me up, even when it’s out of the way. For asking about my life. For knowing when to shut up and just hold me. For saying I can call in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep, and then answering and making me laugh. For giving me kisses that make my brain short-circuit! For giving me a life-saving hug, and telling me I look hot when I’m wearing no make-up, having a bad hair day, and in scummy clothes. For calling instead of texting. For cute e-mails. For driving hours to see me when I lived in a different city, every weekend. For taking a train from Chicago to see me. For introducing me to their families. For saying “No,” when I wanted to break-up, and fighting me on it. For letting me go when it was truly over. For being honest when I needed to be called out, and caring enough to fight with me. For apologizing. For letting me be right sometimes, even when I’m not. For forgiving everything that was unsaid and accepting me as I am.
These are all moments in my dating history that have impacted me positively and remind me of why I refuse to be jaded and “stop looking.”
I’ve enjoyed some relationships that were circuitous and intense, some that were instant and simple, some that were just a date or few but nevertheless left an impression.
If you get your heart broken, good for you. You’re LIVING. I don’t believe any more that if a relationship ends– or doesn’t happen– that it’s a “waste of time.” Or that it negates the connection you had, and somehow it’s less true because it’s over. I’m full of optimism, and proud of the resilience I’ve cultivated in this Scorpio heart of mine.
It can take a long time for me to open up to someone. I want to trust them first, and see that they’re invested in me equally.
But I’m a giver, and I want someone to give to. I feel better already admitting that.
I don’t think there’s any better way to explain why we put ourselves through the glory and trauma of dating than Alvy Singer’s comment at the end of “Annie Hall.”
We need the eggs, that’s all there is to it.
In the meantime, I’ll continue looking and be inspired.