Why You Don’t Need a Ring on it For Christmas

FB EngagementsSo last night and this morning, I was scrolling through Facebook, and I saw the beaming faces of multiple, old classmates announcing their Christmas engagements. While it’s a somewhat predictable time of year to propose–and where’s the fun surprise in that–I was genuinely happy for these women who are well deserving of lifelong love. But I must be completely honest with you—I was surprised by the twinge of envy I also felt. While I don’t consider myself a romantic traditionalist in general, a part of me couldn’t help wondering when—if—I will reach that exciting milestone in my own relationship.

There are a few things I share in common with my newly affianced friends. We’re no spring chickens. I’m the youngest, having just turned 37 two weeks ago. While we’ve never been married, all of us have been in more than enough relationships to genuinely recognize authentic, enduring love when it is staring us in the face. Our relationships aren’t new. Loved ones have long inquired when to expect the big day and babies. Friendships and families have blended. Lives and residences have been entwined.

In my case, I’ve been with Warrior Poet for more than two-and-half years now, and we’ve been living together for a year-and-a-half. He’s been by my side through the best and the worst of times. We’ve been each others cheerleader, champion and best friend. We have three families and a supportive circle of friends with whom to share special events together throughout the year. And in a couple weeks, we’ll be taking a trip of a lifetime together to one of the world’s most romantic cities and then to one of the most magical countries. Thinking about this, I was immediately chastened by how greedy and selfish it was to wish for more right now.

Christmas Love BouquetIn one of my FB groups, a woman posted about her disappointment that, after four-and-a-half years of a relationship, she wasn’t proposed to over Christmas. She said the only thing she wanted for the holiday was a commitment. People quickly responded to remind her that there is not time clock on commitment and that everything happens in its own, right time. While one couple got married after seven months together (15 years ago, btw), it took 16 years for another couple to get engaged. Yet the most sobering response was from a woman who said that while she understand the disappointment of the girl with no Christmas ring, there were many who wished that they had even a taste of what she already has—someone in her corner, someone by her side when the going gets tough.

It reminded me how important it is to recognize and express gratitude for the blessings we do have now. As single people, we can be grateful for the opportunity to really get to know ourselves, for the time to become our best selves, and for the experience of growing more complete and content on our own. If we’re in relationships, we can be grateful to have someone who sees, accepts and loves us for who we really are and has faith in who we can become. We can cherish the nurturing and support we receive. We can marvel in the process of getting to know each other even more with each passing day and the experience of our shared journey together. We can celebrate the continued acts of loving and the commitment it takes to show up for each other day in and day out, whether we’re wearing a ring or not.

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Is My Heart Ready to Surrender to Love Again?

“Bent Objects” by Terry Border

With a bevy of bachelors virtually at my fingertips, thanks to the world of online dating, it isn’t impossible for me to have a date with a different guy every day of the week. Yet there are some weeks where it feels like that truth is too terribly close for comfort. Yes, it can be fascinating to meet new people regularly for a while, to learn about their various passions and pastimes. But I can honestly say that for me, sampling from the buffet of singles can get pretty old pretty quickly.

Call me old school if you like, but when it boils down to it, I do my best dating one man at a time. I am what is known as a serial monogamist, tending to go from one committed relationship to the next, with breaks of varying lengths in between. However, it’s been more than a year since I’ve dated someone for anyone longer than a couple months—my longest drought in 10 years.  The yearning for a real, lasting relationship has been building up strongly again in the past few months.

So why when I’ve recently found a man who so strongly stirs my soul am I so hesitant to take the plunge? Get the low-down on my latest post for The Singles Warehouse:

Committing to the Search for Love, One  Man at a Time

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.

‘Twas A Bittersweet—More Sweet than Bitter, Bitter Than Sweet—Year

For me, 2011 was the year of truly living SingleInMy30s. At age 33, it was in fact the first time in my 30s I was not involved in some exclusive—usually long-term—relationship for the vast majority of the year. The V-Man and I finally ended our second attempt at being together a couple months into the year…and from then on, I was free.

I can’t say that it was an easy year. My body slowly stopped allowing me to beat it into submission, to work it day and night with little to no rest. Soon my dream job became a nightmare job for my immune system, and I was left facing four months of chemotherapy.

I was forced to go on medical leave from my job, and when I wasn’t back on my feet fast enough, I had to leave it outright. To be honest, I think that hurt more than saying goodbye to V-Man, though those losses are somehow linked. Still, saying goodbye to that old dream, that exciting chapter of my life has led to an awesome new career path and wonderful opportunities I would never have expected.

Most importantly, it re-taught me something I thought I already had down cold—how to listen to my body. Now I truly do understand it’s not worth Hurtling Against the Brick Wall—again. My mantra for 2011? Find your balance.

From the dating perspective, I enjoyed dating a variety of men, broadening my horizons a bit more than ever before. There was the Ballroom Dancer, the Christian Rocker, the Cop, the Karaoke Crooner, to name but a few Up Next On the Stage… I didn’t regret every single one, though there were a couple of opportunities for a bruised ego–most famously, the experience captured in The Appeal of the Exotic Woman. Yet I didn’t allow myself to get too involved in the hunt. Timing was certainly off in 2011.

With all the time I had for myself this last year, there was plenty of time for self-reflection. I dealt with the love I’d left behind in 2010 and finally learned how to say goodbye, with A Letter to a Love Lost & A Lesson Learned and several other entries. I gave the bird to societal expectations of where I should be as a woman of a certain age, Tossing Out the Ticking Time Clock, and embracing my own unique path.

I also focused on my self, recognizing my own faults and weaknesses, and embracing my new strengths, while acknowledging the me-ness that I sometimes allow to get buried behind bitterness/reticence/resignation or tucked under the plastered on happy face for show. With a little help from surprise, surprise Shania Twain, I was reminded about Finding Your Voice Again.

And then finally, sweet romance did sneak up on me when and where I least expected it. We fell hard and fast. Since it is my love life, it couldn’t stay smooth sailing for too long. So I wound up the year with the realization that I wasn’t actually in a relationship. It looked like one, smelled like one and tasted like one, but apparently it wasn’t one. And after that was established, it acted even more like one…conveniently for the holiday vacation anyway.

So I’m not sure where that leaves me in 2012, except that I’m not looking to bring drama from 2011 into this year. I am a survivor of last year. I more than survived, I thrived and feel more alive than I have in a really long time, and I plan to only go up from here. Nothing and no one is allowed to take me down.

Tossing Out the Ticking Time Clock

Couple in Love by fajridet

They call me SingleInMy30s, and I am a serial monogamist.

It boggles my mind to think that I have spent 13 of the last 16 years of my life in a serious, committed relationship. Beyond that, for one year I mourned the loss of the four-year relationship. And the remaining two years of my adult romantic life (if we start at age 17 ½), I spent dating and searching for the partner who would stick.

I have been looking for that best friend and passionate lover and tender partner who would stick by my side through thick and thin, through the ups and downs of the rollercoaster of life. Stick with us through courtship and marriage, family shenanigans and creating a family of our own and supporting each other through the inevitable transitions we each would go through over the course of life.

At times, I have been so busy looking for that, I have sacrificed looking to find my own self. I believe I know who I am, what I stand for and what I believe. However, years of dating man-boys with domineering personalities sometimes threatened to extinguish the spark that was the unique spitfire of me. In a way, being sick and single while I am forced to make my recovery has been my salvation.

I read whatever I want to read—be it serious literary fiction or young adult graphic novels, critical commentary on the Western food diet or books on how to have a strong spiritual life—for as long as I want. I can explore all these interests without anyone batting an eye. I can stay up until 3 a.m. in the morning reading without anyone complaining. I can write my missives on whatever topic strikes my fancy at whatever hour it pops into my head.

I can watch political documentaries in the middle of the day and blog about them in the afternoon without someone saying, “Are you getting paid for that?” I can watch marathons of entire seasons of Brothers & Sisters, Parenthood, Game of Thrones and Small Ideas for a Big Planet. If I get hungry in the middle of the night, I grab food to snarf in bed.

If I were not on leave from work, I’d have all the time in the world to cover the bevy of cool events that occur over the weekend—events I always missed spending my entire weekend at a boyfriend’s house.

I can talk to my friends and see them when my body allows, without feeling like I am stealing any of my time away from my boyfriend—with limited energy for many years, I constantly had to make choices about who to squeeze into the few blocks of time when I was able to be out and about and social. Inevitably, someone was always being left out.

Now, I have plenty of time with my family, and I can appreciate them more as individuals instead of “characters” to complain about in a story to other people. I can find time to support my friend as she embarks as laughter yoga instructor. I can go over my musician friend’s house and jam with her and other female musicians—once I am feeling stronger.

There’s time. So much time. Maybe too much time. My mind is always thinking, plotting. What am I going to do with the next stage of my life? I’m not tied down anymore. As I begin to heal, I want to go back for my master’s. But there are steps to take before then, but how will I go about doing them? Where will I do it?  Which program is best for me?

I’m a 33-years-old single woman. Probably the most single I’ve been in a very long time. I know that I might not be 100 percent healthy in my lifetime. I recognize I will probably have challenges having children. I realize the clock is ticking for certain things.

Or maybe, if I am brave enough I will have the courage to just take the batteries out of the clock, and look at the journey in a completely different light. It’s a bit terrifying, but also incredibly exciting. I can’t help feeling a sense of exhilaration thinking, What’s next?

Why I’m Not Cut Out For Reality TV

Yesterday I was invited, as I know many of you have been in recent days, to be on a “major network reality” TV show about singles. While it is kind of cool to be asked to apply to a show, even though it refers to itself as “Real Housewives only with single people”, there are several reasons why I cannot even give it a second thought.

For one, I unfortunately do not live in NYC. A lot of the time, I’d like to say that I do, and perhaps one day I shall. But right now, I live the state next door.

For two, my life really is not cut out for reality TV.

It’s true—I can be flirtatious and a total ham. I’ll talk with foreign accents and skip in public. I can perform my own music to a crowd, and I’m not afraid to pick up the mic to belt out a song at karaoke. I’ll serenade a stranger or break dance on city streets for an urban scavenger hunt.

At times, I can do such spontaneous and out there things, I even surprise myself. When I was 19, I met a Canadian halfway in Toronto for romance. Several years later, I flew to the other side of the world for an adventure, after only three weeks of thought and preparation.

But in general, I am pensive and often quiet. When I’m not being a workaholic, it’s not uncommon for me to spend a couple hours a night reading a novel with pleasure. Sometimes I choose that over picking up the phone to answer the calls of my friends who undoubtedly will desire a ridiculously long conversation.

While I wouldn’t say that I am shy—I can literally spend hours talking to strangers—I rather like to observe and study people. As an editor and writer not a TV personality, I prefer taking the time to carefully craft my words rather than try to be on-the-spot witty and charming. And then of course on TV there’s that whole deal that you also have to be incredibly photogenic—though an ex said in undisguised envy that I never take a bad photo, he is sadly mistaken; I just know my good angles and how to hit delete with the digital camera.

I can be warm, generous, and kind. Friends and former lovers have called me “the sweetest thing.” But on the other side of the coin, I can sometimes be cold, shut-off and sarcastic. And though I hate to do this, and rarely do, I have an English major’s vocabulary to verbally toss barbs that people are still picking out months later.

While I am not proud of this, I am also the Queen of the Dear John letter. Afraid of conflict after months of a boyfriend trying to convince me I don’t really want to leave, I feel like writing a letter is the only way I can make my exit.

Yes, I voluntarily blog about my dating life. I relish sharing tales I selectively pick from my adventures in romance. Notice I said selectively. While some stories I seem to spill in all the nitty-gritty detail, in truth there are a lot of things I choose to leave out.

For instance, I’ve only lightly touched upon the whole disappearance of the V-Man. I’ve brushed it aside with first dates and ridiculous correspondences from OkCupid.

It’s not so much that I’m trying to hide it from you. It’s more that I’m trying to process things, and when I do, I tend to draw into myself. I cut off contact with friends. I become a hermit, spending a lot of time alone in my dark bedroom. I swim in these deliciously gray and rainy days and write fiery entries in my paper journal.

I haven’t poured out my heart on here how it feels to be abandoned by one of the only people in my life who I thought would never, could never, abandon me. One of the few true friends through some of the lowest lows and greatest peaks of my life just disappeared out of a crack in the window like a wisp of smoke from the last fire of the winter. Offering no explanation, I came up with two not-very-flattering reasons for that exit, and naturally, he neither admitted to it nor denied it. He said nothing at all.

Just the thought of putting these emotions and all the rest of my single self out there in front of a camera makes me freeze like a deer in headlights. My blog is anonymous for a reason. A few of my readers know my name. I believe only one of you knows me personally.

It’s not that I am ashamed of who I am—it’s just there are parts of me that I don’t think my parents or siblings need to see. There are parts of me I don’t want some of my happily-married-with-kids friends to see. Not to leave out the exes and former lovers. Ay.

So that’s why you won’t be seeing me on reality TV any time soon. I am sparing you from the awkward, odd, sometimes ugly and cruel, single world of SingleinMy30s in the flesh.  There’s something to be said for the mystery of just words.