This question is a conundrum for many, including one long-single woman who was widowed in 1998.
Like many of my generation, I have been in numerous relationships in the past three decades; some before my marriage, some since my husband died. They were of varying duration, levels of intimacy, bringing with them degrees of dysfunction and layers of love, as well as sexual/soulful satisfaction.
There are all kinds of reasons I entered into those interactions—reasons ranging from libido leaping lust to I wanna-hold-your-hand-and-heart-melt-into-you love. On the flip side, there are explanations as to why I am no longer with any of them; from incompatibility for the long term, attraction to others, feeling constrained and restricted, jealousy, communication snafus, too great geographical distance between us, death, emotional turmoil, and with an open heart, recognition that we weren’t the best fit for each other.
One mantra that I have used over the years that has helped me to move on as gracefully as possible is: “I had a full, rich life before this person was in it and I will have a full, rich life once we part.” It has been a balm to my sometimes singed psyche that reeled with “how could I not be loved best of all?”
Over the last year or so, I have penned articles for elephant journal that took readers on this journey with me. Their responses have told me that I am not alone in my process. They too ponder their single status and relationship rollercoaster rides.
I have encouraged readers to ask important questions before committing to a relationship. I have enticed them to delve into their sexual desires. I have inquired of them the ways they know they are ready for a partnership. Most recently, I invited folks to engage in the exercise of writing letters to former lovers to release the hold of the past, that may keep them from venturing into new waters.
It occurred to me that I am standing on a bridge, midway between trepidation and desire. Here’s a line from the film The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that speaks to this—the one which leapt off the screen and embedded itself in my brain:
“The line between what we want and what we fear is sometimes the width of an eyelash.”
Relationship experts exhort us to make lists of the qualities we seek in the ideal partner. They ask us to get really clear on what we want and don’t want. They encourage us to clean out our literal and metaphorical closets in preparation. They recommend creating vision boards and writing letters to the ‘One’ who is waiting in the wings.
They tell us to imagine that he or she is with us, even having conversations with this person who has not yet entered our lives as if they had. They suggest relinquishing the ghosts of relationships past. They offer the idea that healthy self love is the key to unlock the door to attracting a companion. Then they say to surrender and let it all go. Such a paradox, but much like when you plant a garden. You don’t go digging up the seeds to see if the flower is blossoming yet.
So, what happens when you have done all of those things and still you are a solo act and party of one?
Another clarifying step is to list the reasons why I love being single and why I desire a relationship.
Sensationally Satisfied Single List
I make my own schedule and come and go as I please.
I cook what I like and eat when I choose to.
I travel light.
I live in a clean, quiet house.
I listen to the music I like.
I am responsible only to myself.
I go to bed when I want and get up when I choose; being both a night owl and morning glory.
I get together with friends as I desire.
I am adept at providing all kinds of pleasure for myself; sexual and otherwise.
I don’t have anyone to argue with.
There is no temptation to indulge in co-dependent “savior behavior.”
I need not worry about someone dying as did my husband.
It feels emotionally safer to be solo.
I don’t want to give up all the growth and change I have experienced over the years.
I celebrate the woman I have become and don’t want to lose her.
No need to worry about abuse.
I can flirt without repercussion.
I need not be concerned about letting someone down or being let down.
I am pretty low maintenance and easy going and some of my previous partners have been polar opposite.
I don’t have to face my shadow in the same way when there is no one else casting theirs next to mine.
My life is simple when it is just me.
I have dear friends who together meet many needs as would a partner.
I am never bored and keep myself entertained.
I can avoid the roller coaster ride I have watched couples experience.
I have come to accept that with or without a partner, my life is pretty grand.
Welcoming Partnership List
I’m a Libra, for goodness sake, which means I am hard-wired for love.
I am all about relationships, as a therapist, writer, coach, radio host, minister and speaker.
I feel lonely and longing at times.
I thrive in relationship.
I want to bring out the highest in someone and vice versa.
It would be fun to have a traveling companion and co-teacher.
I see myself as being an even greater force for good with another at my side, working together.
I desire deep heart and soul connection with a Beloved Other.
I have a lot to offer to such a union, including the aforementioned attributes from the first list.
There are so many interests that I would love to share with this person.
I would like to learn about their delights as well.
I want a fitness partner who will engage in healthy lifestyle choices.
I welcome someone who has done their own healing and maturing, so that we can take leaps together into an even more fulfilling existence than we had on our own.
I am open to someone to do the dance of life with me.
I am a passionate woman who wants to spark a fire with a lover and experience transcendent sex.
I would like someone with whom I can both give and receive care and nurturing.
I have seen that kind of great love between my parents who were married nearly 52 years when my dad died in 2008.
I have stood before over 300 couples when performing wedding ceremonies for them and could literally feel the love radiating between them.
Many of them have told me that they met when they weren’t even looking and when they learned to love their lives “as is.”
I know couples who are able to balance love and work, maintain freedom in the midst of a strong bond and say, in the iconic words from When Harry Met Sally… “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Now I just need to get out of my own way and allow the door to open as it does. I have come to accept that this person will show up not a moment sooner or later than they do.
In Divine Timing and by Divine Design.
Author: Edie Weinstein
Editor: Renee Picard
image: Lee Haywood at Flickr