Finding Yourself Along the Path While Seeking a Relationship

Finding Yourself Along the Path While Seeking a Relationship

If you are single, every relationship you’ve ever been in has failed.

I believe life is a long and winding path. We walk the best we can. And when relationships fail, we walk alone. I have been walking alone for over 8 years since my marriage (w/ 2 kids) came crashing down. And the quest for my next relationship I’ve discovered some things about myself that I might never have known had my struggling marriage survived.

The 7 Things You Learn When Seeking Love Again

  • You and your relationship with yourself are the only love you can count on
  • You will not find yourself in the arms of another person
  • Finding yourself must come first, then the next relationship can show up
  • Fully-conscious love takes a committed and focused effort
  • When you love with all your heart, fearless and bold, you are able to embrace your partner with more vigor and hope
  • Trust issues and moments of doubt come and go for all of us, it’s how you relate to your partner as one of these “crisis of confidence” happens, that define how your relationship evolves or dies
  • We are alone with our own personal God, a relationship does not change that

Energetically, a lot of our life energy is bundled up in our feelings of love and being loved

You cannot find a loving relationship love if you don’t absolutely love yourself. Unconditional self-love is the precursor to finding a lasting relationship, so it’s important that you find your own inner-strength before seeking the next great relationship.

I was addicted to being in a dysfunctional relationship.

I have been actively seeking a new relationship. I have been working on myself, my spiritual program, my fitness program, and my mental health program for the last eight years, with some successes and some failures. I have had two short relationships and one long-term relationship since my divorce. And while the last one, an intent-to-be-married relationship, was a severe blow to my confidence and happiness, I learned some of life’s core lessons from this loss.

  • You may be in the best relationship of your life and still unhappy
  • Another person’s addiction can and will tear you down
  • Only you can ask for what you need
  • Sometimes the loss of the relationship is the only thing that allows you to see how toxic it was
  • Depression is not an excuse for not showing up in a relationship
  • Sometimes the answer to your prayers is, “This one is not for you.”

What you seek has to start with what you give yourself. Are you capable of loving yourself as much as you love the idea of being in a relationship? Can you forgive yourself for the failures (relationship, money, parenting) in your past? Do you speak to yourself (your inner voice) in the voice of a lover, or the voice of a scolding teacher?

I had become incapacitated by depression and guilt. I was no longer bringing my energy into the relationship, I was trying to survive by keeping things inside, bottling it up, not asking for what I needed. And not until I’d moved out for several weeks did I come to understand that I was addicted to being in a dysfunctional relationship. I was also addicted to some of the best sex (with a huge caveat) in my life.

I moved quickly into a period of mourning, once I moved out. I knew I would mourn. I knew I would isolate and get depressed. I knew what I needed to do to keep sane.

I also knew, and was sad about the fact, that I would not be in a relationship for a long time. After the depression and isolation were worked out. After my employment situation was worked out. After I was confident enough to start dating again, I knew it was going to be a long and lonely road. And it was. But in the loneliness I found a kernel of self-love I had not known prior to this breakdown.

I had hit rock bottom and knew that my struggle for happiness again was also a struggle for survival. I did not want to be alone. I craved a warm body, a partner. I craved human touch.

As I began to engage women in the dating process again, first with OK Cupid and Match.com and later with Tinder and Bumble, I began to tell a new story about myself. I began to listen to what I was telling these women, and as I was telling it, I was “reality testing” my statements. I recall, on a date, having this moment of complete and utter confusion. Mid-sentence, as I was giving my “what I’m looking for in a relationship” speech, I stopped.

“I’m sorry,” I said, smiling sheepishly. “What I am coming to realize at the moment, talking to you, is I have no idea what I’m looking for in my next relationship.”

While I had (have) written a ton about dating and about finding myself again, I was, at that very moment, unclear on what I wanted. It was a funny moment between us. And the woman, to her credit, was quite comfortable with my unknowing. It was our first date, for goodness sake. On the second date with the same woman, three weeks later, I also found myself articulating my goals for my next relationship.

I was in the process of buying a new house or renting for the first time in my life. As we were discussing the coming weeks and how we might fit a “we” into those days, I said, “I don’t know about buying or renting. What I want is to be in a relationship. I want to hold a woman’s hand, and together, make these sort of decisions.”

And there it was.

  • I had to know what I wanted
  • I had to recognize that I really wanted a partner, and confident, and a wingman, above a sexual partner
  • I had to let go of my expectations of what “next” was and simply work towards showing up for all of my dates

And in all this confusion came this final statement of clarity.

When I am ready in my soul, the relationship, the woman, will show up. She will stand in. And we will both be served in our individual quests for our own souls.

Afterword: She did show up. (It was not the woman from the conversation.) She did stand-in, firm with her own demands and strengths. And we are 3-months on and leaving on Friday for our first vacation together. I could not have imagined her while I was still in the toxic, yet exotic, relationship. And I could not have formulated a strategy to find this woman. I merely showed up as an authentic man and she merely showed up as an equally authentic woman. And by our second date, we knew… Whatever it is we know at this early stage of an infatuated and love-blind relationship.

Always Love,

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

More dating posts from The Whole Parent about this new love:

image: kissing, creative commons usage

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