“Dating is about finding out who you are and who others are. If you show up in a masquerade outfit, neither is going to happen.” ~ Henry Cloud
When I was single, I met many of the men I dated through online dating services. It required an awful lot of administrative work to maintain the five—yes, five—dating sites I subscribed to. I was plucky about the whole thing, determined to find my soul mate. I remained undeterred even when one man’s profile read, “Must love goats.” (I’m not kidding.)
After a while, however, I became frustrated by constant commiserating with girlfriends who were also dating about how there simply must be someone out there for us. Underneath our conversations was the paralyzing fear: What if there isn’t?
Yes, I wondered. What then?
Then? It’s a life alone…just like the one I’d been living and enjoying as a devout introvert. Almost every single person on the hunt for a partner has heard the aggravating advice: “When you stop looking, you’ll find someone.” Perhaps you’ve even taken this advice. It works for a while, abstaining from romantic dealings for a week or two only to wake up one Saturday morning at 2 a.m. on the couch in a pool of drool with the DVD menu of The Royal Tenenbaums looping on your TV.
You’ve just spent another Friday night alone. Not so satisfying after all.
The fear kicks in that this is how you’ll die. It’ll be death by dramatic comedy or by choking on a popcorn kernel. No one will find your body for weeks. And, oh! The stigma of a 40-something single guy or gal! If you’re not Oprah or George Clooney, you’re convinced, it ain’t workin’. How hard you’ll have to work to prove yourself a valid member of society, a success…and not jaded.
Give it up.
If you’re a single introvert who lives alone, it goes without saying that you don’t need tips on finding time for solitude. What you do need is to begin to honor that solitude. Take a small nugget of your beloved aloneness with you on your dates. Doing this will help you keep your expectations at a reasonable level.
If you’re in a new relationship, the advice is the same. There will be a time (if there isn’t already) when you’ve fallen madly in love and can’t imagine spending a moment apart, not even for a bathroom break. Remember and love your solitude then, too.
One of the greatest pleasures is coming home after a great date and luxuriating in all the memories of your time together. Your solitude is your best friend. Tell it out loud how your date gave you a surprise kiss right on Main Street. Or how he smelled. Or how right it felt sitting so close to her at the restaurant.
And if things don’t work out? Whether the relationship tanks after the first or the twenty-first date, your solitude will buoy you up. You’re not retreating to a lonely life, you’re continuing the eternal love affair you have with your Self.
Here’s a secret: Even if you marry, that love affair with your self continues, so nurture it now.
Remember that you cannot make anyone love you. No amount of primping, push-upping, pumping weights, or waxing is going to create love where it cannot be. This fact is a gift from the universe. Take it. Why? Because of one very vital thing: If you’re with the wrong person, you are therefore unavailable for the right one.
Do not compromise. Ever. Do not undervalue your Highest Self. Develop a loving relationship with yourself. Use your time alone to replenish, refresh, and recharge your soul’s batteries. Then get out there and dazzle the world with you.
The Social Club
Dating is a wonderful opportunity to meet other people. Think of it as a social club. When you’ve made plans for the next date, try this:
- Wear something that makes you feel entirely, comfortably you.
- Meditate before the date.
- Plan an after-hours date with yourself. Treat yourself to a movie rental. Have a cup of expensive tea. Write in your journal. Choose something you’ll look forward to.
In this way, you honor your introverted self as one who lives life on his or her own terms. Yes, you got out there. You met someone and had a good time—or you didn’t. But you did come home with the gift of a new experience. Absorb it. Compost it. Celebrate it. Then get back out there. (When you’re ready. Maybe after you finish that Wes Anderson marathon you started.)
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard