We met for dinner and conversation. We three woman of a certain age. Two of us are single, the other is in a relationship on the verge of … well, it sounded like it could go either way. Two of us struggle to stay open to the possibility of loving again. One of us has never really lived alone for very long, but thought it would be a good thing for her. “Perhaps in another life,” she offered brightly.
One of us declared herself a “romantic optimist.” Another claimed to be a “recovering romantic.” The optimist seemed to know a dozen happy couples. Two of us couldn’t name even a handful.
I wondered out loud how much control we actually have over matters of the heart. How much did luck and timing and being in the right place at the right time have to do with it? And what about the effects of early childhood experience? Was it so powerful a determiner of fate that we felt compelled to repeat endless versions of familial patterns, despite our best efforts to overcome them? We all seemed to agree that our generation held some pretty idealistic notions about romance and what we wanted in a potential partner.
So many of us hold assumptions that our relationships should be fulfilling on multiple levels: emotionally, sexually, financially, intellectually, socially, spiritually. We want to feel happy and relating to a significant other has been singled out as the one area of life that’s supposed to give us everything.
But how happy are we relating to ourselves?
I’m not sure whether we can find lasting satisfaction with another person if we aren’t all that comfortable in our own skins. I’m of the mind that it’s a good idea to know how to be happy on your own. Not only is enjoying our own company the best gift we can give ourselves, but feeling internally secure creates a solid foundation on which to build a sustainable relationship.
When we’re not desperate to get away from ourselves, we are far less likely to grasp at inappropriate partners. Once we do get involved with a special someone, and confront those inevitable conflicts, we are far more likely to negotiate from a position of strength.
Learning to live on our own can, of course, feel lonely at times. But loneliness is not enough of a reason for getting involved with someone. Loneliness, like laughter, is part of the human condition. People become so afraid of feeling lonely that they never learn how to meet their loneliness with a creative response. But loneliness can be a gateway to adventure, self-expression, and spiritual awakening.
Here’s a short list of things to do by yourself.
Plant a garden; go for a swim; journal your innermost thoughts; turn a collection of old photos into a colorful collage by adding bits of glitter or paint; bake some cookies and take them to a homeless shelter; nurture yourself by taking a bubble bath or preparing your favorite dinner; get a massage; treat yourself to some flowers; read to your heart’s content; go to a concert, lecture, or poetry reading; don’t wait until the wedding, buy you’re own damn china; take a trip to a place you’ve never been before—risk the journey. What are your favorite ways to enjoy your own company?
Remember, you are somebody worth knowing! Take the time to get to know more about who you are from the inside out. When you do meet that special someone, you will have more to offer and a greater capacity to receive love in return. In the meantime, develop your character, explore your interests, take some classes—and ask the BIG questions:
- Who am I?
- What are the significant experiences that have shaped my life?
- What is meaningful to me?
- What can I give?
Sometimes, love is NOT the answer.
At least not in the traditional sense of the word. What the unmet heart wants most of all is to feel engaged. Find something you can pour yourself into that elevates your spirit and also helps you set down roots in the fertile ground of your own soul.
No relationship can provide the passion that is missing from within ourselves. There exists an abundance of opportunities for loving and being loved, if only we didn’t burden our potential prospects with expectations we can’t even live up to ourselves.
Someone once said that the secret to happiness lies in being your own best friend. I’m inclined to agree. We make ourselves ready for love by first learning to receive and shelter the unloved places that lie within the chambers of our unclaimed hearts.
Solitude is not the same as loneliness.
Are you longing to reclaim your heart? Learn to thrive within the sacred shelter of solitude. Feel creatively engaged on your own terms. Contact Cathy for a 20-minute complimentary phone consultation.