Tag Archives: looking for love

How Faith and Courage Work Together in Love

Love deeply, before you catch yourself doing it.

If you knew that your next venture, what ever you attempted, would be a success what would you do? What would your first 100% winning project be? Love life? Career? Creative fame?

Part of falling in love is giving up your control of the situation enough to allow the chaos of love to transform your life. If you hold up, clam up, reserve a protective walled-up space deep inside you, the magic might not happen at all. Faith is not the blind commitment to something, faith is expecting you will be successful and then giving everything you have to make your next adventure, next project, next relationship, next everything, a WIN. We’re all looking for the WIN.

As I was entering this relationship with my beloved, I was occasionally fearful. “We’re going too fast,” I would think sometimes. I even said it out loud a few times to her. But as we listened with our hearts instead of our minds, the answer was always, “You are okay. You are falling in love. Allow it to happen. Have faith.”

I trusted, each time, as I was saying goodbye, that something better was still in development.

It’s important that you not take this advice as some form of blind faith, or the idea that by praying about it, the perfect woman was going to show up magically in my life. Nope. I have been working, rebuilding, crafting, and singing my way back to my “most lovable self.” It took awhile. I had some stops and starts. I had a lot of times that I didn’t believe in myself, didn’t love myself, didn’t feel loveable. Divorce will do this to you. So will depression. But I kept the faith to keep on moving forward.

Sometimes I was moving forward without knowing my goal. Sometimes I was trying to force a relationship to be awesome, when it was not awesome. I wanted the relationship in my life, so bad, I was willing to suspend my disbelief and imagine that I could change the other person into being in love with me. I wanted her to want me just as much as I wanted her. I wanted someone to really be able to express love: verbally, physically, and spiritually. It’s a tall order. My first two relationships, post divorce, each had some missing ingredient.

But I learned from each of them. I learned what it felt like to be cared for by someone who spoke the same Love Language. I learned what it was like to pour creativity and joy in to a relationship that was no prepared to open up fully. I learned to move on and let go. I trusted, each time, as I was saying goodbye, that something better was still in development.

When the next woman showed up, she arrived with bells on, a tennis racket in her hand, and an attitude and faith that matched my own. I had met my match. I was no longer trying to push the river, make a relationship out of something that wasn’t working. I was met, stroke for stroke, both on the tennis court and off. And we smiled at each other and asked, “Are we going too fast?” We BOTH asked that question. We still do.

We already knew the answer. We knew it rather early in our dating.

  • This was something different.
  • This person was READY and WILLING TO WORK for a relationship.
  • Their faith was different from mine but equally passionate.
  • Their love language was undeveloped and not yet discovered, but it appeared to be “touch” like mine.
  • This person made an effort to meet me halfway on everything. She was scheduling dates. She was suggesting ideas. She was the first who suggested we might kiss.
In all my poetic longing, I had not even come close to the radiance I was about to experience.

When my beloved showed up, my game could relax. I was no longer seeking, no longer seeking to impress, no longer in pursuit. I was in mutual pursuit. The pursuit of a 100% connection. Keeping it 100% was my overarching goal. Without full disclosure and resonance, I knew I would be wasting my time. This woman showed up with her own glow, and beside mine, we caught fire. (Sounds woo woo, I know, but hear me out.)

There was nothing that prepared me for how she cracked open my heart. All the ideas, roadmaps, plans, I had been writing about, were meaningless. In all my poetic longing, I had not even come close to the radiance I was about to experience. Someone whose energy not only matched mine, but often out paced mine. Up earlier, running faster, eating leaner, laughing and praying more. I was amazed at this vision who showed up. I was not quite sure she was “for real” some of the time, but I stayed close and observed what I could about her and my reaction to her.

As we began to spend time together we both noted how much laughing we did. After a weekend together, we both giggled at the soreness in our ribs. FROM LAUGHING! That is a great sign. We were sore in other places from other things, but it really was the joy and sound of the other person’s laughter that I think unlocked our security systems. It was in the joy of our experience together, doing anything with laughter and connectedness, that we began to flag off the “too fast” warning signs, or questions from our friends.

She would come back from a night out with friends and say, “They just wanted to make sure I wasn’t being taken advantage of.” We both laughed at this one. We know how it looks from the outside. We know our friends (perhaps not the mutual ones, who know us both) are astounded and semi-supportive until they get to meet us together.

Then they spend a little time with us together and even strangers say, “You two guys are like a comedy act. In sync. Hilarious.”

We’re on a roll. Is it a honeymoon phase? We don’t think so. And I have to give this intelligent woman the ability to make up her own mind about this. We’re madly, passionately, in love. We’re a bit hard to take, because we finish each other’s sentences, we jump off into inside jokes like they were stand-up routines. (Like our own little Portlandia, Fred and Carrie can do anything and be funny about it. We feel the same way.)

Your expectations and dreams are actually holding you back. Your faith and love will transcend everything you imagined, when you click with the right person.

What we both appreciate in each other has been our ability to let go of the fear and allow ourselves to FALL IN LOVE. We consciously entered into this relationship. We consciously slowed down at the beginning and then accelerated with each week, as the connection deepened.

Once we were IN we were 100% in.

I have faith in two things:

  • My ability to be honest and express my truth.
  • Her ability to be honest and express her truth.


The rest is negotiation, navigation, and nurture. We’ve both got work ahead of us. We are always in a state of becoming. But today, I have my lifetime cheerleader beside me. And I’m always ready joyfully embrace her in all of her flaws and misdirections. We’ve all got them. I’m misdirected as hell sometimes. But together we agreed, early on, that we would embrace even the flaws in the other person, and that was the real key to letting go and falling in love.

Your expectations and dreams are actually holding you back. Allow yourself to see the person in front of you. Your faith and love will transcend everything you imagined, when you click with the right person. It’s a spiritual quest you are on, to find a lasting relationship. Keep spiritual in your focus. And as you love your own flaws you can love the flaws in another.

As she cheers on my creative endeavors, I feel the support that I lacked in all of my previous relationships. So she’s not a writer. And she’s not threatened by my writing. In fact, she wants to read it, wants to push me into being more daring. She even allows me to write about us. That too is a form of faith.

When I finish a particularly hard or lovely post I will read them aloud to her. I would never want to put in something that would hurt her. Ever. And so far, there have been a few copy edits. Together we’ve sailed through the challenges and questions I’ve been asking myself, and us, as we move forward.

Stay tuned. Stay lovely. And love deeply, before you catch yourself doing it.

John McElhenney

back to Dating After Divorce

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image: my two girls, cc 2015 John McElhenney, creative commons usage

Playdates for Adults: The 5 Challenging Tasks of Finding a Partner

playdates for adults

How to Find Play, Fun, and Love, Maybe

This whole business of online dating has gotten too serious. We’re way too focused on type-a goals.

  • Find a date.
  • Arrange an in-person meeting.
  • Assess the “relationship” quality of the person
  • Pass, Fail, Repeat

But love, or looking for a real relationship, is not really a type-a task. In the driven mode of dating we get criteria like.

  • Has (or doesn’t have) children.
  • Want’s more (or doesn’t want any) children.
  • Is Christian, or whatever “spiritual but not religious” means.
  • Would sleep with someone on the first date, given the right circumstances. Or wouldn’t consider sleeping with someone until the 6 – 10th date.
  • Is successful in business and likes travel to exotic locations. Or still working for a living.
  • Partier (most pictures have drink in hand) or “social drinker” or “doesn’t drink at all.”
  • Has a rockin bod. Or not.

And while these are some valid criteria, they are more for sorting through the cattle-call of online dating profiles, rather than looking for a relationship. In a word they are a bit superficial.

So there are some other alternatives to online dating that are worth looking at, if you are seeking a mate. Or perhaps even a one-night-stand, if that’s your thing.

  • Meetup Groups
  • Activitity Groups
  • Spiritually-related Groups
  • Workout Groups

When you think about the person you might like to be spending your Saturday afternoon and Saturday night with, where do you imagine you might be on any given Saturday afternoon? And then it’s your opportunity/responsibility to get yourself there. She/he might already be there. If you know the types of activities you’d like to be doing with another person, then get yourself to those activities as a single person and see if there are any other singles there.

The first task of finding a partner is showing up.

For example if you were recently excited by the World Cup, you might have found a public place to go view the game. You might have stayed home and watched it on your computer. And even if that is what you would’ve liked to do with a “special friend” it’s not very likely that you are going to be introduced to them while in your pj’s in your living room. Get out there.

The second task of finding a partner is brightening up your presence.

You want to be the brightest spark in the room. If you are happy with yourself, and confident in your mission, you can walk into a room full of drinking soccer fans and still hold your own torch. If your torch (your self-love, self-confidence) is sputtering, perhaps that’s a good place to put your attention. Get your game in order before going out looking for game.

The third task of finding a partner is learning how to be charming.

Listening is an art. Often it is the most confident people who can listen better than others. The one’s who are always needing to tell stories, be brilliant, and obviously work to hard at being charming, are often the one’s who are still trying to find their inner confidence. If you want to be heard, listen. It’s the most powerful thing you can do in the opening “is there chemistry” moments of a face-to-face meeting.

The fourth task of finding a partner is showing your enthusiasm by actions and not just words.

If you want a second date, say it. If you don’t want a second date, tell them too. And if you BOTH want a second date, you won’t need to be emailing each other later to see if there was “chemistry.” Believe me, if there’s chemistry, you will both be asking “What’s next?” And the answer will sound like this, “What are you doing for dinner?” or “What are you doing tomorrow night, I’ve got tickets to …” If you have to ask, there’s probably not a connection. If there is a connection, and you are BOTH actually wanting a relationship, you will both be asking for the next meeting.

So much of this process is figuring out who is playing games, who is really ready for something, and who are so damaged from their previous relationships that they are in no real position to be available.

The final task of finding a partner is being brutally honest.

You don’t want games. You don’t want new drama. You want clarity, well-stated intention, and a clear communication style with this person you might actually be interested in. Anything less is a red flag.

If you feel it, say it. If you don’t feel it, say that too. Then return to task one, LISTEN. The more you listen the more attractive you will seem to the other person.

And the final tip of romancing a potential mate: Say their name back to them, repeatedly, like a poem.

John Brock: The sweetest sound in the human language is one’s own name.

Good luck out there.

Always Love,

The Whole Parent

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image: meg terney at comic con, the chive, creative commons usage