Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Finding Love

It took my husband and me decades to find each other. We each had been married, divorced, remarried, and divorced again when we finally found each other. Having been around the block and then around it again by the time we met, we knew what we were looking for.

We both sensed even before we actually met our search was over. Even my 17 year-old great nephew could see. He told his mom after he had met Paul, “Aunt Bethie sure got it right this time, didn’t she?”

Paul and I each had at times despaired of ever finding the love of our lives. But we never gave up. And you shouldn't, either.

Our first date was magical. I walked into the mostly full restaurant where we were to meet and walked directly over to him. Before we said a word, we hugged. And the rest, as they say, is history. We talked about marriage on our first date, but we gave ourselves six months to live together, just to be really confident in our choice.

What made us so confident? All of our experiences with dating and marriage had been the school of hard knocks that taught us about ourselves and what we were seeking. Each time a relationship went south, regardless of who initiated the breakup, we had practiced and learned. And best of all, we loved. All of this was priceless, if disappointing,knowledge.

What is the best favor you can do for yourself if you are single and starting over? Remain open- hearted. Of course, you need to go into a new relationship with your eyes open as well. But don’t be afraid to be loving. You will learn the most about yourself when you do.

The other favor you can do for yourself is to learn as much as you can about yourself and what makes you tick. About your contribution to the relationship disappointments you have experienced. About your defenses and how you protect yourself that gets in the way of giving and receiving love. About your dysfunctional patterns that limit your success in relationships. And about the partners you have chosen, you can see with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that virtually guaranteed the your relationship(s) wouldn't work. In other words, instead of blaming your partner(s), identify your contributions to the demise of each relationship have been in.

And don’t wait. Volunteer. Start a book club or a gourmet club. Be busy with other people and activities that are soul food for you. Take art, cooking or singing lessons. Go on vacations with friends or family. If you think of this period as waiting, you will be impatient and prone to making a mistake just to end the waiting and feel like you have some control.

And most of all, make a decision. Decide that you have no intention of remaining alone for the rest of your life. And then commit to remaining open to new possibilities.

Who knows. You may receive a visit from Cupid this season of love. And if you don’t and in order to salve your loneliness, hire a competent relationship therapist or consultant who can help you make sure you get out of your own way while providing support in this very important interim of incubation.