I spent a big chunk of Saturday alone in my apartment. In the beginning I really enjoyed the solitude, sleeping late, making coffee when I got up and reading the newspaper in my pajamas, on the couch. As the day progressed, I got increasingly restless and uncomfortable in my skin. I couldn’t focus on a book, no movie on TV was able to grab my attention, and I didn’t have the energy or desire to go running. Instead, I wandered from the kitchen, to the living room, to my bedroom and back to the kitchen (my apartment just isn’t that big), trying to figure out what to do with myself. I stared out the window at the falling snow, talked to my mom on the phone and tried to find some answers.
The source of the discomfort was this question: Is it okay to want something, but still be okay not having it?
The thing in question I want is a relationship. A partner. More love. I am okay without it, I know this without question. My life is good, my happiness originates from inside me, and I know I will be fine if I don’t find anyone in this lifetime. But that knowledge doesn’t stop me from wanting it. And in my weaker moments, absolutely longing for it. The friends of mine who are in happy, successful relationships often quote the same piece of wisdom to me. They say, “I only found love when I stopped looking for it.” They stopped looking for it, they were okay without it, but at their core, did they stop wanting it?
Last New Year’s Eve, I went out with a group of friends. The evening was mostly unplanned, we declared we were “going to have fun” and set out into the night. By some fluke, we ended up on a roofdeck in Old City in time for fireworks and the countdown to midnight. Tracie, one of the women who was out with us that night, had recently given up dating. She proclaimed that she was done with men, especially tortured artists and musicians, and was really okay being alone. As a caveat, an aside to the universe, she ended her statement by mentioning that if there was someone out there for her, she’d like him to be a CPA. That night, on the roofdeck, Bob walked up to Tracie. He was a CPA. They recently bought a house together, a year after they unexpectedly met on that roof.
After discussion with friends, my parents and strangers at restaurants, I’ve come to the conclusion that wanting something, but being okay without it, is an acceptable place to be. That being okay does not dissolve the wanting. And that the process of wanting makes the getting more valuable.
I am guilty of giving the “stop looking” advice to friends. It just seems so true. I utterly stumbled upon Jay.
I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. And I’ve come to the same conclusion that you did. It’s nice to know I’m not the only thinking about this stuff.
Rather than saying you will find someone when you stop looking, I think it is more apt to say you will find someone when you really have no fear about not having someone. The fear of being alone and of how others see you and of it feeding low self image is what puts up the blocks. It goes back to really feeling good about yourself first. I don’t think there is anything bad or wrong with still wanting someone in your life. I actually think that is a good and hopeful and healthy thing as long as it’s not based on panic about not being in a relationship. Your conclusion about it makes sense to me.
I honestly did stop looking and resigned myself to be single (I turned people down, put up the big “unavailable” sign) and was really really okay with that. Then one day, about a year later, I journaled that I was ready for someone… and described the person. 3 days later, she showed up… at church.
I agree with Barb though… its when we truly become complete ok with being alone, knowing that we don’t NEED a relationship, we become most attractive. And at that point, we can be really choosy toward those who approach us, because we are not in a panic to be partnered.
oh! and we even ask the same questions of ourselves! and our friends even give us the same answers! (and i want to look at them insanely and say “stop looking? stop wanting? are you nuts?)