Six Steps to Claim Your Sensual Confidence

SixStepsToClaimYourSensualConfidenceOne of my younger female friends reminds me a lot of myself before I came into my sexual confidence. Despite having the slim and fit build and striking looks envied by many women and admired by many men, her insecurity about having smaller breasts not only feeds her jealousy of her loving boyfriend’s perceived attraction to other, curvier women, but also interferes with her ability to fully accept his open adoration (and wild lust) for her physical self. A conversation we had one day inspired these six steps to claim your sensual confidence.

To Love Thyself Is To Know Thyself

And vice versa is also true. And knowing and loving thyself makes it so much easier for others to know and love you too! There is nothing more sensual than a person who is exceptionally comfortable in their own skin, recognizes their own strengths and talents, who knows what they like, and goes after (attracts) what he or she wants from life and from you.

Find out the rest of the steps on Singles Warehouse here:

http://www.singleswarehouse.co.uk/2013/06/six-steps-to-claim-your-sensual-confidence-by-soloat30/

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Resolve to Overcome Sexual Shyness in 2013 With Astroglide Giveaway

Astroglide Dr. YvonneGrowing up in a Christian household, there wasn’t a lot of talk about the birds and the bees. Obviously I knew that people had sex and that it could result in pregnancies and babies, but when it came to the mechanics of the act, let alone pleasure and technique, I was pretty much clueless. To be honest, I really wouldn’t have become aware of myself as a sexual being growing up if it hadn’t been for Skinemax, AKA Cinemax After Dark and its late-at-night adult movies in late middle school.

My first serious boyfriend in my late teens was as green as I was about everything in the physical intimacy department. So we lovingly explored each other and attempted to overcome our sexual inhibitions together. Some things worked effortless, while other things took more time to get right.

It wasn’t until later, when I started having much more experienced partners that I began to experience more sexual shyness. Many years later, I feel quite comfortable with my techniques, learning what my partners like, and experimenting, whether with new positions, costumes or playing with toys. Yet there is always room for improvement.

In the year 2013, I’d like to see myself feel even freer to express to my lover exactly what I want in the bedroom. I’d also like to play with a few more of my fantasies, such as going to a strip club with my partner. Additionally, while I feel sexier and more proud of my body with my boyfriend than ever before, I’d still like to learn to really love my perky, little breasts even more—I’ll never be a Victoria Secret model, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Astroglide’s Sexual Wellness Ambassador and sex expert Dr. Yvonne Fulbright offers some tips for how you and I can overcome any sexual shyness we may harbor in this New Year and have better sex in 2013 (and make sure you read to the end for a special deal from Astroglide):

Tip 1: Get a firm grasp on what’s holding your back in the bedroom. Is it an inability to express what you are looking for your partner to do? Are you uncomfortable in your own skin and worry that your partner doesn’t find you attractive? Do you lack confidence in your ability to please your lover? Get specific about the barriers you need to overcome in claiming your hot-to-trot sexual self and an amazing sex life.

Tip 2: Get to know yourself.  If you don’t know what pleases you—what you like and don’t like sexually—how can you expect your lover to know? Great lovemaking requires communication, taking the time to find out what arouses them, whether they are visual or tactile, and how and where they like to be touched. So first, take the time to get in touch with yourself. Fantasize—read erotica for inspiration. Play with toys. Experiment with your touch to discover whether you like things softer or harder, slower or faster, circular or up and down, or a variation of these. Role-playing with seduction and the process of foreplay will give you greater confidence to give instruction to a lover, even if it’s non-verbal.

Tip 3: Boost your body image. For many of us, the biggest challenge to getting into a sexy state of mind is our relationship with our own bodies. Many people will tell you the sexiest people are the most confident, and confidence comes with self -love. Do things that make you feel good about the skin you’re in, like getting regular exercise, eating healthy meals, avoiding toxins and shutting down negative self-talk. I would also add staying away from the majority of women’s magazines as well if you find yourself constantly comparing others’ bodies to yours. Become more intimate and connected to your body through movement and touch, with yoga, getting a massage, or wearing clothes that feel like they were made for you. For me, acknowledging that my breasts are the perfect size for my body type becomes more self-evident when I wear clothes that show off my petite, slender and athletic build. Every day, look in the mirror and find at least one thing about yourself—whether it’s your lips, eyes, shoulders or butt—that you love and acknowledge it out loud.

Tip 4: Study the masters. Knowledge is power when it comes to the art of sex. Many are insecure about their sexual expression because of lack of knowledge—about their own bodies, about what makes their partner stimulated and about how to successfully pull off different sexual moves. Read quality sex manuals. Educate yourself on erogenous zones, different sexual positions and techniques for oral sex and manual stimulation, and learn creative methods of seduction. The more you learn, the more you will boost your confidence as a lover, as well as expand your sexual repertoire.

Tip 5: Determine if your issues require extra assistance. Many women who have struggled with their sexuality as adults have encountered sexual abuse in the past, carrying guilt and sometimes fear or pain as they try to move forward into healthy sex lives. Adults who also have religious backgrounds that associate sex with guilt and shame may find it difficult to express sexuality in health ways. In cases such as these, working with a certified sex therapist or counselor can be extremely helpful for working through the past so that you can enjoy the future. You can find one in your area at www.aasect.org

A SPECIAL OFFER FOR MY READERS

Astroglide is also offering readers of my blog free samples to help you slide into a sexy new year. Look for how you can get your hands on them here. You are also invited to submit any questions about sex you may have to sexpert Dr Yvonne.

**This is a sponsored post for Astroglide**

Upon Turning 35, a Final Look Back

IMG_1866When I first began my pity party path to recognizing and acknowledging the blessings of turning 35, I wasn’t sure how the experience would play out. I couldn’t predict what it would feel like having to come up with 35 truly positive things about my life as it is now, without only citing banal, yet genuine daily items of gratitude that might put you to sleep. To be honest, some days were harder than others—not because I didn’t feel truly grateful for things in my life, but rather I didn’t know exactly how to express feelings into words on a screen.

Yet here on this final day—the day of turning 35—I can honestly say I have earned every single virtual candle on that birthday cake. I cherish all the experiences I’ve had in my life—both amazing and not so great, the ordinary day-to-day and the life-changing moments, as well as the expected and the surprises. They have helped shape and mold me into the person I am today. While flawed, still constantly growing and learning, I happen to appreciate and like the person whom I’ve become.

Upon turning 35, today I am grateful for…

1.I am grateful for having made it through to the other side of some very dark days. I’ve lived through some pretty rough experiences, both physically and emotionally, and I’m proud to be able to say I truly am a stronger and better person for it. Instead of staying in a wallowing, poor-me state that would’ve been so easy to do, I kept pushing ahead, learning from my challenges, and grown to further understand the human spirit. My compassion and empathy for others, while always rather keen, has expanded so much more and is very much broader in scope.

2. I am so grateful to have found a career where I can use those difficult experiences I’ve been through to help counsel and educate others. I eventually discovered and built my own virtual support groups many years ago. Yet it would have helped me even more to have a personal mentor who was both knowledgeable about what I was going through and who could also help show me how I could improve my health without simply telling me which medications to take and to go get treatments that would just keep me stuck at a plateau. I envisioned this career for so many years without knowing exactly how I would get here, so when it did finally show up, I just about cried. This is what it was for.

3. I am grateful for all the people who have touched my life over the years. My brothers who were my second set of parents, making sure I never got into too much trouble, who kept me humble, kept me in giggles and made sure I felt loved. The teachers who recognized and encouraged my skills and talents, who made sure I had the support to blossom academically. Different friends I’ve made along the way—people to talk, laugh, cry, and share endless memories with. Acquaintances who have crossed my path—casual compliments that meant more to me than I could thank them for. Strangers who have gone out of their way to help me up a mountain or make sure I navigated through a foreign city. Old classmates or family friends who remember something I did or said to them, what feels like a lifetime ago, that made a huge impact on them. The romantic partners who’ve taught me so much about loving and relating, while learning about what makes them tick, shapes who they are and how they love, and revealing so much of the same in myself through my experiences with them. My fellow health coaches who inspire me every single day, and who have been so amazingly warm, uplifting and supportive—you are all beautiful, loving superstars! I could go on and on, but thank you, thank you, thank you.

4. I am thankful for the white hairs. I am thankful for snow fingers and shoulders. I am thankful for the stiff joints in the morning. I am thankful for the reminders of the joy of sports played hard, of a life well lived and a life lived to its fullest. And I know this sounds incredibly strange, but I am thankful for the health issues that have taught me so much about the mind-body connection, about listening to and honoring my body and the importance of self care, a lesson that had to be beaten into me. I am listening. I know. I am ready to move into my next phase of living.

5. I am thankful for yet another year to experience awe. To live life to the fullest. To laugh. To love. To cry. To sing from my heart. To embrace my inner child. To savor what I’ve got. To dream. To go after those dreams and make them my reality. To give thanks for another year, another month, another day, this breath…

My One Week Countdown to 35: To Love and Creativity

To Love and Creativity!

DSC00444Day 5 is Dedicated to My Love

1. I am grateful to My Love for showing me real, unconditional love from a romantic partner. Loving me as exactly, completely me. Loving with kindness, compassion and patience. Love without judgment. Love without co-dependency. Love without jealousy.

2. I am grateful to My Love for being so open, honest and true. For baring everything and letting me in. For letting down any walls that would be so easy to have built up over these years. For giving me the chance to finally feel free to let myself dive in deeply to genuinely feel and give unconditional love.

3. I am grateful to My Love for listening to my dreams, encouraging my dreams and sharing my dreams. He’s even reawakened me to even more dreams, ideas, and visions for the future, as well as outlooks on life, the universe, and the human spirit.

4. I am grateful to My Love for knowing all my secrets, while believing I’m wonderful anyway. J I get misty-eyed knowing the admiration and respect he holds for me, without putting me on a pedestal, and for realizing my imperfections make me perfectly me.

5. I am grateful for My Love for welcoming me into his family of relatives and friends as openly and warmly as he has. I am also very thankful that he has equally wanted to know my own family of relatives and friends.

IMG_1673Day 6: Creativity

1. I am grateful for having never fully given up the inner child’s openness to inspiration and freedom of expression. Whether it’s been through creative writing, music, photography or art, I feel I have always had a toe dipped into that beautiful, blessed well that always feeds my spirit and positively infects the spirits of others.

2. As much as I complained about how my little fingers hurt, I am eternally grateful to my father for teaching my brothers and I the fundamentals of beginner’s blues guitar. “Betty And Dupree,” “Frankie and Johnny” and “Step it Up and Go” will be forever burned in my memory. But even more, the joy of hearing sounds come through my fingers and out of my voice birthed a lifetime love affair I will forever nurture.

3. I am extraordinary grateful for my opportunity to have (very independently, ha) record an album in my youth…actually, with my big brother, there are two albums floating around, aren’t there? And I’m extremely grateful for all the ways I’ve performed, from open mics to shows. I’ve made great friends and fans. Thanks to those who continue to encourage me to keep getting back out there.

4. I am grateful for Mrs. Jan Augusta for being the first teacher to tell me that I could write. I’ll never forget that story about “Magic Shoes” that inspired a lifetime of living in my imagination, and spending hours upon hours trying to translate it to paper (or computer). I’m grateful for my mother for reading to me all those years, for teaching me to read at such a young age, and for giving me a love of libraries. I’m grateful for those who’ve fed my adult literary adventures. From my parents to one of my oldest friends Jenn who once threatened me “Finish this story, or I will kill you!” From my writing critique partners, especially Laura Tien, to the different writing groups/classes with such amazing writers as fellow classmates. To that boyfriend who read every. Single. Story. I’d. Ever. Written. Trust me—even at 18, it was a LOT to the one who read my most recent novel, whose judgment I trust with my life.

5. I am grateful that my life continues to my lead me to a career that embraces my use of my creativity more and more, whether I am teaching old fogey music to hip, young kids, writing articles about inspiring people who touch people’s hearts, taking images that capture awe or sharing my story so that others can relate. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Is the Fear of Change Keeping You In Your Current Relationship?

Recently, a good friend of mine and I were discussing how bewildered she was by her conflicting feelings toward her long-term boyfriend. One day, she was ready to call it quits if he didn’t stop his controlling tendencies, the next, they were seriously considering marriage.

She and I were talking about the ways they could compromise and communicate better when she dropped the following bomb:

“I know part of what’s keeping me in this relationship is the fear of dating again. How do I overcome that fear?”

Want to know the advice I gave her? Read about it on my latest post for Singles Warehouse:

http://www.singleswarehouse.co.uk/2012/08/is-the-fear-of-dating-whats-keeping-me-in-this-relationship/

Dear Little Me: Live Your Life For You

Today, a friend of mine posed the following question on Facebook:

I thought back on my years of dating and relationships, wondering what I might tell the 21-year-old me that would be most invaluable for my adult dating life that lie ahead. Immediately, it became clear:

Don’t make any major life decisions based solely on a man or a relationship that might not be there tomorrow.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for committing to love. I’ve made multiple decisions in my life, both big and small, that were influenced by love or by whether I thought they would have a positive or negative impact on the committed relationship I was in at the time.

I have made the conscious decision to not follow certain career paths that I felt would compromise the stability of having a healthy relationship and home life. For instance, I am not an anthropologist who runs off to study cultures in ultra-remote locales for years at time. Nor did I decide to become a spy—don’t laugh, one of my former college classmates actually is.

I have cooled off certain friendships with the opposite sex that I felt would detract from my commitment to a boyfriend. This of course inevitably had personal advantages, but it ultimately came down to respect for my partner and our relationship.

And because I’m not overly committed to a specific style or look, I’ve even worn my hair hippie curly when one boyfriend loved that or dressed a little sexier than I normally would when another boyfriend buttered me up for that. It didn’t ultimately change who I was, and it pleased them, so I didn’t see the harm of playing dress up, if you will.

I was thrilled to do the exciting cross-country moves with one of my former boyfriends. He had an exciting and daunting new career opportunity, and I felt like I would be even more of an important support to him. I wasn’t established working full-time at the time, so I was mobile. I was happy to be living in a new part of the country again, and I loved my boyfriend, so it was a no brainer to accept when he invited me along on that crazy journey.

However, sometimes I have sacrificed or compromised more than I should have. What’s worse is that I had gut realizations of this at the time. And these moments I can’t ever get back. These are the times that occasionally call up the “what-ifs” that I try not to dwell on, but they rise up unbidden anyway.

My college boyfriend and I were together for two-and-a-half years before I graduated. I was older than he, and I finished up school a little earlier than he did, so I was looking at job opportunities before he was even finishing up his senior year. We had been living together for a long time, and I felt like I couldn’t abandon him before his graduation, but that didn’t stop me from being tempted by jobs of every flavor literally all over the globe. While we lived in California, I applied to jobs in Washington, D.C., New York City and even considered teaching jobs in Asian countries.

My boyfriend supported my dream journalism jobs, so he knew about my interview for a big magazine in Manhattan, but I might have left some of the other opportunities out of our conversations. Because really, how could I take those? How could I leave him behind out here by himself? He had few friends besides me in the area—co-dependence was a term we were uncomfortably familiar with. And I was sadly far too used to giving up the little things to keep things comfortable and safe.

Yet this was my future! And I had a sneaking suspicion that my dear loved one wouldn’t have so easily given up opportunities for me. Still, when a great job—great title, great benefits and salary, within my field and straddling a few of my interests—opened up within biking distance from where we lived, I took it. It wasn’t my dream, but I convinced myself it was close enough for now.

A dream job did eventually open up a couple months later. It didn’t pay as well, and it was further away. By then my boyfriend had graduated, but his job was further south. Together we couldn’t afford a place up north on my salary in the kind of housing he would be able to stand living in, so I decided to try to balance two jobs, while making a ridiculous commute and dealing with worsening health conditions. Needless to say, that didn’t work out, and I was left with neither.

I had to suck it up with an even worse job, closer to our new home, but still a murderous commute by car. And my health continued to decline. Eventually, it got so bad that my doctor told me that I had to go on medical leave, and my boyfriend and I had to acknowledge that we were clueless how to proceed from there. We were still kids, and I needed parents who could nurse their daughter through a recovery.

I traveled 3000 miles back home. A few months later, my boyfriend joined me on the same coast for an internship, so we saw each other infrequently. But by the end of that year, he ended our relationship because I had no answer for when I was going to recover. After all the sacrifices I had made for him and for our relationship, when I needed him to be there for me the most, he just wanted to know, why wasn’t I getting any better faster enough?

After four years of our life together, that commitment I had centered life decisions around, crumbled into a million pieces. And I was without the different undergraduate degree and honor’s thesis that I would have continued to pursue if the boyfriend hadn’t pushed me to change when he bailed out of it. Would have finished the international study program that was left unfinished when the boyfriend again bailed out less than midway. I was without the co-terminal master’s degree I would have pursued if, quite frankly, the boyfriend hadn’t been in the picture. And I was without the life in a big city, quite possibly in another country, living the life I’d dreamed about since I was 11.

I know I can’t honestly blame it on him. I blame it on me for not listening to my heart and my dreams, for allowing myself to be so influenced by his, which he didn’t even know himself because they literally changed every other month. Sometimes I wonder if part of growing ill so mysteriously after such an innocuous accident after such an innocuous case of mono was triggered by years of swallowing missed chances and bitter regrets.

After coming out of almost a year’s cloud of depression over that relationship’s demise, I swore I’d never allow that to happen to myself again.

When I was recruited to launch and be editor for an online news publication two years ago, I was initially drawn in by the promise of reporting for my own hometown. Yet as the hiring process furthered, I was told there was also an opening in the town in which my boyfriend at the time lived. The opportunity came up at a very telling point in our relationship.

After an intense five months together and an abbreviated period living together while his kids were vacationing from their full-time home overseas, we had been having very serious discussions about our future. When the possibility of a position being open in his town arose, my boyfriend quickly warmed to the idea, thinking this would endear me to the idea of moving in with him almost immediately. Yet there were multiple reasons why I was hesitant.

Logistically, being unable to drive, I would be without wheels living in my boyfriend’s town while he was at work a half-hour away all day, in addition to the hours he put into his private practice at night. As a reporter who had to make it to town hall meetings at night, library and school events during the day and head to people’s homes for interviews, I couldn’t imagine everywhere in town was as reasonable a walking distance as the schools and playgrounds we’d visited over the summer. And walking alone terrified me when I was still too often falling with the reassurance at least that people I trusted were right by my side to catch me. In my hometown, living at home, my parents would be available to chauffer me as needed.

This, in addition to the fact that I was guaranteed the position in my hometown while I’d have one or two others also vying for the position in his town, of course made the decision seem easy. Yet the truth was, there was another big reason why I knew I couldn’t take a position that would leave me “stuck” in his hometown. We’d had a tumultuous relationship in the relatively brief time we’d been together. We’d broken up, dated others, gotten back together, dealt with major jealousy issues and I’d nursed him over his lingering heartbreak over another woman. Quite frankly, I wasn’t feeling too secure that our relationship would even last a full year, as much as we could talk about it and get caught up in our passion and romantic idealism.

Trusting my gut, I pursued the position in my hometown. It was the best career move I could ever have made. I succeeded in ways I never imagined, having experiences and opportunities I never would have experienced living anywhere else. I was also comfortable and secure, knowing I had the full support of my parents to rely on. And not surprisingly, less than a month after I fully jumped up to my neck into the new job, my relationship was over. It turned out my boyfriend was not only threatened by other men having my attention, he was also threatened by my job and career having so much of my time, energy and focus as well.

There will be a time when I know that a relationship is for keeps. I will know that my partner is as willing to make sacrifices for us as I am, and that there are compromises we make to keep our relationship healthy and balanced. Yet compromising the very core of my spirit and being is something I’ve learned I cannot and will no longer do for the “sake of a relationship.” Anyone who truly loves me would never ask that of me, and loving myself means that I would never allow me to lose myself so entirely again.

I do believe things happen for a reason, and there are roads I needed to take to get me right here and lessons I’ve needed to learn to become the person I am today. Yet to spare myself at least some of the unnecessary heartbreak and time lost from the young SingleInMy30s, I would lovingly tell myself to live my life with love and kindness for those I care about, but in the end, the only person I can please is myself, so live my life for me!

Reading the Dating Radar for Red Flags and Danger Signs

by Michael Matthews

When you’ve been in the dating world long enough, the hope is that you learn a few things on the path down that journey. Sometimes, it’s like child’s play the way you acquire knowledge. A couple of dates with the same type of man quickly alerts you to the fact that that slick charmer who is constantly checking out other women when he is with you is a player or that overly exuberant storyteller who is always talking about himself is only interested in himself.

Other times, the lessons you pick up are only digested the hard way, after a significant investment of time, energy and emotion—or some painful combination of the three. These are earned through tough means, often after you have gone through the five stages of grief – denial (Problem? what problem? or He’s not really breaking up with me. Everything was just fine yesterday!), anger (at your partner or whomever you blame for causing the relationship’s demise, then yourself for falling into the whole mess to begin with), bargaining (If he stops trying to bang every other woman he meets, sees a therapist for his severe mood swings, quits doing drugs/being abusive/compulsively lying, then we can try again OR if it really is over, at least we can still be friends), depression and then finally, acceptance.

After these kinds of experiences, you’re indubitably never the same. But along with that loss of innocence is also a loss of naïveté about the world and the nature of humankind that will serve you well into the future. Really.

src: cavemancircus.com

Inevitably the biggest lessons you learn will be about yourself. About how much you can endure. About your own resilience and the power and strength that you will eventually find within you, no matter how long it takes, to pull yourself back up again. You’ll often also truly realize who really has your back, who will be there to catch you when you fall, be a shoulder to cry on, will dry your tears, kick your butt when you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself, and cheer you on when you triumph.

If you spend enough time with and attention on yourself and your own desires, wants and needs, you will hone that incredibly powerful tool of intuition, which is your best friend when you are dating. Intuition speaks to you if you but listen. If you do not smother it back down into your subconscious because it’s the last thing you want to hear since you’re thinking:

This guy is so perfect in almost every important way, except for that one little thing that, okay, isn’t really a little thing when I think about it, but he’s so wonderful in so many really big ways, and he gets me…is there any way I can overlook this?

Or

Wait, what do you mean I have to go back into that cesspool of being single again? Again? I just really don’t want to—can’t—deal with that reality just quite yet.

Intuition is that voice inside you that says something just doesn’t feel right, even if things seem great on the surface. A few years, I was dating a seemingly great guy who showed up on our third date with a bouquet of flowers larger than my head. He cooked for me. He proudly introduced me to his friends, colleagues and boss. He was extremely eager to bring me along on family get-togethers quite early on as well. On top of that, he was an MD/PhD, regularly practiced yoga, owned a home, had a ton of fun, smart and interesting friends, and he was very clear about wanting to soon settle down. He talked about my numerous, ambitious dreams as if they were all completely doable, and he spoke about how he’d do everything in his power to support them. Sounds perfect, right?

Yet for some reason, I couldn’t ever get fully comfortable with him. In the six months of our relationship, I only slept over his house a handful of times. In the middle of the night, I’d always get this feeling like I really shouldn’t be there, and I’d apologetically tell him I’d have to leave. He tolerated this, the canceled out-of-state adventures with friends and family trips. He tolerated my distance as I noticed that his overly sarcastic manner with people rubbed me the wrong way, how his large house felt like a musty closet, how he himself felt aggressive and demanding in ways that eventually just made me want to run. I’d been literally praying for a man who was ready for full commitment, and here he was. Yet, something inside me told me that I couldn’t be truly happy with this man.

A couple of months after I finally broke things off with him for the last time, he immediately fell into a relationship with a PhD student. He took her to Jamaica the next month, the trip he was going to take me on. I laugh about it now because I realize how much he was a man with a mission—not unlike Mr. Etiquette—determined to find a wife. Now, he and the girl who came after me are engaged. I couldn’t be happier for them because everything I can tell about her says that she is completely, head-over-heels crazy in love with him.

src: jbryantwrites.com

Sometimes the red flags are more overt. Addictive personalities. Binge drinking and drug use into your late 30s. Totally serious proclamations that he could be a professor in porn. Nearing 40 and showing such a ridiculous fear of deeper commitment that you finally have to release this boy to the perennial bachelorhood he truly thrives in living.

Even in the face of mind-blowing sex and the deepest, most riveting conversations you’ve ever had with a human being in your life, sometimes you have to take heed of the lessons you’ve learned over the years. As incredible as this new person is in your life, you recognize the warning signs that predict danger, heartbreak or misery ahead. And sometimes you have to break free of that spell of temporary tantalizing loveliness, acknowledge the red flags and say goodbye.

If you’re lucky, reading the radar for red flags and danger signs can save you from heading down a hard road of heartbreak.

When it Comes to the Quest for Love, Be Your Own “The One”

src: blog.buckheadchurch.org/

If you were to look to at my love life as following a trajectory, forming one neat and perfect line (ha), it would appear as if, since the tender age of 17, I were perpetually engaged in an active search for The One. With the exception of what amounts to a total of about a year and a half lost to housebound illness and heartbroken depression, adding in some month or two breaks here and there in between active dating, I have spent nearly 16 years of my life in serial monogamy, AKA some form of a relationship.

These relationships have ranged from the short-lived, failed attempts of one to three months to serious, deeply committed, live-in relationships lasting three to four years. In perhaps too many, I have turned out to be the heartbreaker, but I have also had my share of experiences where my heart had been utterly destroyed as well. Yet each time, I eventually dust myself back off, heading back into the adventures of love, though perhaps with my heart more carefully protected the next time.

My married childhood friends who thought I’d be the first of us down the aisle—as did I—observe my endless adventures with men with amusement and/or not-well-disguised pity. They wonder if I’m too picky, too flighty or, if they’re feeling generous, wonder when a truly great guy will realize just how amazing I really am.

“He’s out there,” they say, not really meaning to come across as condescending, I’m sure. “Be patient.”

Some of my perpetually single friends have expressed concerns that I at times might be too eager to be paired up with a mate, but I contend that desperation has been not my driving urge. On the contrary, I love to give and receive the sincerest form of love. I have been driven by the mission to find and keep that love—I know that is possible, at the right time, with the right person. I have seen in it very close to home, as my parents’ own love affair only grows deeper and more beautiful with each passing year. I know I want that too some day.

In my periods of self-reflection—which by the way can still occur in the midst of a struggling relationship, which as those of you who have lived there know can be even lonelier than being single—I have also come to a realization about love that relationship experts repeat over and over because it’s true. You cannot truly expect to really find and keep the genuine, enduring love from another person until you can learn to find and accept that same love from yourself.

Don’t roll your eyes at me. Think about it. If you can’t appreciate your own inner beauty, your gifts, talents, strengths and what you can bring to the table, not just in romantic relationships but to the world in general, how can you expect someone who may be starting off as a perfect stranger to you to learn to either?

Of course, a great partner can see beyond the b.s. you sometimes hold up as a mask to protect yourself from hurt. A great partner can be your biggest cheerleader and in the most loving and respectful ways encourage you to be your best self that is most genuine to the real you. A great partner can help you to open your eyes to that beautiful person you truly are inside and out.

But you can’t depend on a partner to do all that hard work for you. At some point you’re going to have to take a look in front of the metaphorical and literal mirror by yourself and say, “Damn it, I am an amazing person, worthy of love. I deserve happiness, wonderful friendships, a career I love, success and all the great rewards of life. Regardless of whether I ever find The One or not.”

Your quest for love should be directed inward first and foremost. Because really—you are your One. Anyone else is just bonus.

The Ah Ring

And what better way to show that commitment to discovering, loving and celebrating yourself than with The Ah Ring—the first and only diamond ring designed especially for single women. Worn on the pinkie ring, the 14-karat, white gold ring with 11 round full cut diamonds is a gorgeous symbol of self-love.

Oprah, Anne Hathaway, Kirsten Dunst and Serena Wiliam are just a few of the powerful single women who have embraced this “symbol of single’s pride.” Yet priced at $350, treating yourself to the Ah Ring is an affordable way to celebrate being joyfully single and your own true love. Look for it at Divine Diamonds, www.divinediamonds.com.

Second Chances? I Saw It In The Movies

Very rarely in life do you get the opportunity to write an alternate ending. Those kinds of fairy tale-like occurrences are usually reserved for romance novels and Hollywood movies. And, of course, in our occasional flights of fantasies unfettered by common sense.

In the real world, Cary Grant-as-Nickie continues to misunderstand Deborah Kerr-as-Terry’s distance, and he never gives her the second chance to prove her love like he does in An Affair to Remember.

James Darcy would wind up marrying the snotty Natasha thinking that Bridget Jones has sided with the cad Daniel Cleaver, and Bridget would be left alone wondering if maybe the loathsome Daniel is better than no man at all.

Src: gotsole.wordpress.com

The lovelorn Gigi having fallen for her wingman Alex, who has seemingly been giving her mixed messages, would have easily scared him away by her desperation and her broad assumptions. Alex would have ignored the light bulb going off in his head that Gigi had unwittingly endeared herself to him, and he would keep going through women like a bull through Pamplona, making Gigi believe once and for all that “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

Even when it seems like the door has been closed to a romance, when it seems as if you really have to mourn the loss of what you truly believed was the flowering of new love, there are times when deep inside your gut you can’t stamp out that flicker of hope.

Reason tells you to just give up, to move on. So you try. You get back out in the dating world. You fill your days and nights as much as possible to decrease those moments of weakness when you shed some tears for the precious possibilities left behind. You wonder what all that beauty and joy was for just to have it pulled out from under you without any warning at all, but what else is there to do but look ahead.

And yet…days pass. You meditate and have epiphanies about yourself, “us” and life in general that you feel only he would understand. Emails begin to pass back and forth. He surprises you by calling again, so eager to see your face on FaceTime and smile at every expression and show of excitement you share.

You mention a big event you are hosting in a few weeks, and he asks when and where. “Can I come?” he asks. Your first temptation is to fire back, “Why?” but you nod your assent. He asks if you’ll sing one of his favorite songs, “I Will Always Love You.”

He talks about how much he wishes he could make the drive to see you that weekend if he didn’t have to cram full days of work throughout.

The still cynical side of me says, Yeah, right. I’ll believe it when I see it.

When you begin talking about looking for jobs in big cities again, he asks if they are closer to where he lives, which is an hour and a half away. You admit that they are not. He suggests that you consider looking in his big city. “There are publishing companies here too,” he says.

Then, maybe three weeks after you thought it was over forever—though it’s felt interminably longer than that—you get a text message from him that says:  “Do you have plans tonight?” After I respond that I don’t, I see the following on the screen of my phone:

I am leaving here in an hour to come to Connecticut…that is if you want to see me.

Well, slap my cheeks and call me Sally. I definitely couldn’t have predicted that one coming. I rushed to clean up my house and myself, running on autopilot, my head still reeling in disbelief. People were talking to me as they were leaving for the airport, friends were calling, and I was barely paying attention to what they were saying.

src: filmsquish.com

When he finally arrived, I opened the door and was immediately swept up in the biggest, longest hug. Ah, I missed this more than I realized, I thought to myself. We let him drop his bags and take off his coat, and then we resumed our embrace.

Our visit was full of talks, dream building, hugs, laughter, food, film, meditation and more. It felt like no time had passed at all since we’d last been together, yet something was quite different. “You seem so free and open with me,” he noted. “I like it. I want you to share everything with me. What you like, what you don’t like. How you feel.”

My first temptation was to protest that I was always open with him, but he was right. I had changed in the weeks we’d been apart. I had allowed myself to become more in touch with myself again, more grounded and centered, less fearful of being exactly who I am. And I wasn’t afraid to share any of it with him, no matter how he did or did not respond.

As he left almost 24 hours later, heading back to the lab and work, we hugged for what felt like a half hour, and he once again urged me to apply to jobs in his city. I said nothing, made no false promises that neither of us would keep, but just held on to him tight.

I knew this visit was conditional. It might very well be a single moment before he once again changed his mind about us. But. It. Didn’t. Matter. I was living in the present and enjoying every second of it, every look, touch and word shared.