There was a point in my life when I asked this question aloud to trusted to friends, but mostly to my inner self. “What if I never find love?” Seeing young and old couples gave me a sense of longing to find love. Then I see loving couples who live with disabilities or don’t look like “the average” couple, maybe because of weight or scars or whatever – and I’m not surprised that they found love – but it always made my self confidence plummet. How did they find love and I can’t seem to get a date?
I know that sounds like I’m an entitled, egotistical bitch but I’m trying to be real here. No, I’m not all that, and I’ve gotten to the point where I exercise, put on nice clothes and make-up because it makes me feel pretty. I’d finally got past doing all of that because I thought it would snag a man.
Ironically, my perfect companion came into my life when I stopped pursuing love. I doubt that my story is unique but there are people who struggle with self-esteem and confidence who are asking the same “What if I never find love” question.
One of my best friends was in her late 30s before she found love; not for lack of trying; not because she put career first. Of course she dated and had short term relationships but none ever made it past the 3-month mark and certainly nowhere near talks of marriage and commitment.
In my own situation, I settled for Mr. Right Now. After my divorce and three children later, I found myself single again and wondering if I was better off alone. The disappointment of a failed relationship was bad enough. Who could possibly love me and accept and love the children of another man? Oh, and if this imaginary man did love me knowing I had children, what was wrong with him?
Twisted, cylindrical thinking like that can really mess with people. What do I mean by that? Well, have you ever been on the amusement park ride that looks like a huge hamster wheel? It spins around and around so fast that you stick to the wall and you can’t move. That’s the kind of thinking where you think hope then crush that hope with imaginary doubts and worst-case scenarios. Around and around you go until you can’t move.
I used to think that damsels in distress was how to get the guy. We grow up with fairy tale stories of Prince Charming battling demons and searching high and low to rescue their princess. Well, I’m no damned princess and I’ve always been self-propelled and independent. I don’t need rescuing either!
I just wanted a soul mate who loves me for me, accepting me for who I am.
The Damnation of What Ifs…
For my own love story, I have to admit that I was terrified that Mr. Right might have entered my life a time or two, and I didn’t know it. My mother always said “there are plenty of fish in the sea.” I have no idea why I considered dating advice from a woman who found love when she was 19 and remained married for over 40 years.
… I’d inadvertently tossed Mr. Right back in the sea?
… he doesn’t exist and I’m wishing on a fantasy?
… there isn’t anyone who can accept me for who I am?
… I compromise too much in the name of love? Is that really love?
… I’m too picky and no one will ever be good enough?
… I don’t trust my decisions when it comes to picking a mate anymore?
The damnation of What Ifs are those creeping doubts that poison your brain.
Accept What Is
Once I got over the angst of the What Ifs and just said “Fuck it. It is what it is,” my attitude changed and so did my dating prospects. In hindsight, it seemed foreign and I could kick myself for being a fool for falling into the fairy tale trap.
I got as far as I did and I’m just fine. I don’t need to pretend I need rescuing for a guy to feel like he’s my hero. I wanted someone who could be my partner. That’s not to say I want someone who thinks the way I do or caters to my ever need. I want passion and care. I love a good debate and I like a challenge without feeling like we’re breaking up because of a disagreement.
After my divorce, I took myself off the dating market for a couple of years. I needed to rediscover myself and I had my children to consider. Quite frankly, I put a lot of stock in “Prince Charming” with my first marriage and realized, well after the fact, that we had both accepted the fairy tale roles, and in doing so, failed to accept our true selves, which is definitely not what either of us wanted. Because of that, our relationship was destined to fail. After a few good years and several bad ones, it finally did.
My sister is the perpetually single kind of gal. She never wanted to have children of her own but she adores her nieces and nephews. She’s had her share of dating experiences and she’s quite fine without the “confines” of marriage.
She knows who she is and what she wants. She is free to be. Yes, she’s been married. It didn’t work for her. And she rejects the label of being an “old maid” – or perhaps she embraces it like Auntie Mame. She might be “alone”, as defined by being unimpeded by a live-in partner, but I’ve never really seen her lonely. There is a huge difference between the two.
There are time when I’m a little envious of my sister because I’d love to pick up and go wherever the wind takes me. But I am beholden to a man who loves me and cares about my well-being. He wouldn’t take kindly to me disappearing and calling from a distant location just because I wanted to go sight-seeing. I mean, I seriously could go anywhere if I wanted to, but the compromise to keep my relationship healthy is knowing, understanding, and respecting his comfort zones too.
Something like that is not worth waging a battle over. At least, not to me.
That point that I was getting to is this: my sister doesn’t need validation from another human being. She doesn’t need a husband or partner to find peace and fulfillment. She accepts the choices she’s made in her life. Her family doesn’t look like a traditional nucleus family; it’s filled with good friends and extended family.
You Are Enough
If you’ve ever found yourself asking “What if I never find love?” then I am going to counter with, “You are enough.”
You don’t need someone to complete you. Joy, well-being, peace, satisfaction… those are all self-serving. It comes from the inside and will never be fulfilled by anyone else. Remember what I said about the difference between being alone and being lonely.
I truly feel that they are not synonymous. To be lonely is to feel a sense of isolation and remoteness from others. To be alone, in the physical sense, might encompass the empty side of the bed or having an apartment all to yourself.
If you are feeling lonely, then it might be high time to pursue a goal, passion or hobby. Occupy your mind or do something that brings joy to your life. The struggle of loneliness can feed depression and prompt us to make desperate decisions.
It’s time to retire the question: “What if I never find love?” and replace it with, “What must I do to love myself?”
When you begin to answer that and not put so much effort into others, I firmly believe you will begin to feel whole and perhaps when you least expect it, you’ll find yourself in the company of the person (or persons) who are meant to be there.