A friend on Facebook shared the following video and I felt the need to share it with you guys.
Nine years ago was the last time I was “single.” I had opened an account on what I think back then was Match.com. I created a profile, chose my cutest pic and then, I checked out the pool of fish I was swimming in to see if there was anyone I might want to meet. I scrolled through bad photos and horrifyingly mundane profiles and an even worse list of interests (walks on the beach?). At any rate, I sat there, in front of my PC, and I burst into tears. Is this all that’s left? I thought. What’s worse was that I was being told this was the only way to meet guys. Online. Whether we had apps for dating back then or not I don’t recall. I never got that far. I deleted my account and decided I’m better off single.
Not long after that, I went to a funeral of a friend whose mother had died. At the time, I was in a relationship with S, who I thought was the best thing since sliced bread and that we were “forever” (he wasn’t and we weren’t, though I didn’t know it at the time). At the funeral, however, I caught a glimpse of D for the first time in years. As some of you may know, D, my now husband, is a childhood friend of my brothers whom I’d known peripherally for years. He never interested me and I never gave him a second look because a.) he’s blond and German-looking and I always went for the dark, swarthy pirate types, b.) he’s normal and healthy and I always preferred the unhealthy, bad boys, and c.) he had a reputation for being “vanilla” and surprisingly, as I found out years later, he’s anything but. Anyway, D was at the funeral, he was in a suit and tie, and from a distance, we caught each other’s eye. In fact, when he looked at me he burned a hole through me. I couldn’t quite figure out what that meant, if anything.
Months went by and S and I broke up. And then, a few more months went by and I heard from a mutual friend that D and his wife split up and were divorcing. D’s “look” at the funeral suddenly made perfect sense. More months went by and he friended me on Facebook. The timeline is a bit murky now, but you get the gist. A lot of time went by between our first glance and our first date.
I never saw any of that coming. I never expected meeting someone in that way. Back in the day, meeting someone was random and unpredictable and nowadays, I think we are under the impression that dating can be controlled somehow, or that that there’s a formula. You can connect through a dating app based on your mutual interests. You can then meet. One, two, maybe three dates in you agree to have sex, depending on your moral compass. And then, that’s it. You’re committed. Or, at least, that’s what most people hope. They hope for that big, obvious “CLICK” known as love to be realized almost instantaneously.
And when that doesn’t happen, all manner of feelings and doubts flood the ego. What’s wrong with me? Why are there only losers out there? I’m no good. I am not pretty enough, smart enough, exciting enough…Etc. etc. etc.
As a love addict, I remember feeling completely insufficient without a man or a date or someone “interested” in me in any way shape or form. I remember that my whole world was wrapped up in the idea that a relationship wasn’t just a fun pastime, it was a lifeline. It was my raison d’être. And, I would have done virtually anything to find one. I remember all too well many nights being alone wondering why I was alone. Wondering what the hell was wrong with me. And yet, those empty nights, where I had only myself to contend with, gave me a direct relationship with pain and sorrow that I tried desperately to avoid, but which were very much needed. They ultimately allowed me to recognize infinitely small signs that the universe was indeed offering me something that had been planted like a seed but needed time to grow.
Which leads me to an obvious metaphor: we don’t plant seeds anymore. We buy plants. We don’t hunt or gather for our food anymore. We buy it pre-packaged at the grocery store. And we don’t cultivate relationships anymore. We “just add water” expecting instant happiness.
I am not a millennial. This video is clearly not made for me. And yet, if love addiction has taught me anything, it is that any of us can fall victim to the false belief that love can be found so easily. It can’t. That there’s a formula. There isn’t. I can’t tell you how many emails I get a month asking how I did it, how did I meet D. My answer is a measly, I don’t exactly know. It just happened. But, I can tell you this: “I” happened first. Then “we” happened. This doesn’t mean any of us should give up. It means we need sit with ourselves first. We need to know who we are first. We need to accept disappointment, pain, sorrow, disillusionment, silence, and we need to learn what to do with those things and how to manage them before we can take on the burden of dealing with someone else’s sorrow, disillusionment, silence, etc.. We need to know what we can control and what we can’t and we need to be OK with that. It means we should enjoy the challenge and unpredictability of dating without harboring rigid expectations. It means we need to look for tiny sparks of light in the darkness and not discount them.