A friend called me this morning, “Oh McKinnley, this guy just asked me out in the nicest, funniest, cutest, sweetest way, and I don’t know what to say. All I can think is, ‘I’m just going to ruin this too.’ “
And I understand. It’s difficult being in your mid 30’s, single, with a trail of broken relationships behind you, and a whole whack of messy dating piled on top. You begin to wonder what’s wrong with you. Actually, you began wondering that so long ago you now assume it’s an unsolvable mystery, just like you assume all romantic encounters are (eventually) going to end in heartache and ruin. So you make a vow to stop. Quit dating. At least for awhile. At least until you can pinpoint all your many character flaws and morph them into some new, shiny, perfectly dateable version of yourself.
We often forget, when hindsight is only showing us all the stupid, selfish, scandalous ways we acted in our last relationship, that it takes two to tango. Oh, and NOBODY IS PERFECT.
Do the work. Take time to be introspective, and get really really honest with yourself about your wants, needs, and actions (both past and present). Talk it out, hash it to death, write and write and write. Go to counseling. Read. And then, finally, start doing better. Recognize your triggers. Actively engage. Speak. For the love of all that’s good and holy, SPEAK!!! Speak your truth. Learn how to communicate.
If there is ONE thing you can do for yourself, it’s this: learn how to communicate. This entails learning how to actively listen, as well as learning how to effectively express yourself.
Then go. Do. Be out there in the big, scary, exciting world. Meet people, have conversations, make connections, explore those connections, appreciate the moments and the people for what they are, keep making connections, keep learning, keep exploring, keep growing, keep communicating.
And one day, suddenly, being with someone will just work. It will be easy and fun and great and exciting… But most of all, it will just work.
This doesn’t mean it will be perfect.
So you will have a conversation with yourself that will go a little something like this:
“Is this good enough? Am I good enough? Is the work going to be worth it? I’m pretty sure it’s much easier to be single.”
After some thought you’ll realize, “This IS good enough, in fact it’s not good enough it’s just plain good. And enough. As for me? I’m definitely good enough. The work, well it’s been easy so far, we just keep communicating, and I’m pretty sure we can figure anything and everything out. Sure, being single means I can do what I want when I want – and that’s pretty awesome… BUT, sometimes having a partner is actually much easier, they’re supporting and laughing and helping and picking up the pieces when I’m too tired – and that’s pretty awesome.”
Getting to know yourself, that takes time. Developing relationships, that takes time too. But having fulfilling friendships, productive encounters with coworkers, endearing moments with family, engaging conversations with strangers, and romantic relationships that truly lift you up and enhance your being and your life…? It’s soooooooooo worth it.