seeking beauty outside myself

What’s So *F-in* Hard About Finding a Real Partner?

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Are there more women today choosing to be single and raise their kids alone? Or is it just the emergence of social media that is now showing me more and more single (very attractive) women with no men, no dads, in any of their pictures? What’s going on?

What’s So *F-in* Hard About Finding a Real Partner?

As we grow older, and our kids get older, the relationship part of marriage does get more compromising. To have and support kids you’ve got to compromise a lot of your own ambitions and plans. And it is good, it is a choice. We had kids to bring new life into the world and for the first 18 – 22 years, or so, we are responsible for their care and maintenance.

Often what happens with empty-nesters is they no longer have the kids to focus on, and while both partners were paying attention to being parents, they were not paying attention to their love relationship. So, often, they part ways after the kids are out of the house. For some, like my ex-wife, they decide earlier on that their lives, and their kids’ lives would be better if dad were not around anymore. (But, I’m no longer focusing or writing about my divorce as much, so check the earlier posts for more info on my trajectory with the mother of my children.)

Alone-Again Loneliness vs. Dating Again

At some point, men and women can choose to remain alone. But for those of us who are optimistic about finding a new forever-friend, dating is the only way forward. And, I get it. Dating sucks. Dating is not the goal. But if a Relationship (capital “r”) is the goal, dating is the only way to move forward. When I have been sad and lonely and alone, I would mope around my house, wishing I had a “friend.” The problem is, no woman (in my case) is going to randomly knock on my door to see if I want to give dating a shot. Dating is an intentional act. And if we’re going to get back out there, if we’re going to find another partner, we’re going to have to start dating. Yuck. I know. I’m right there, right now, with you. Dating sucks. And online dating seems like a distraction and a game, rather than a way to find a life partner.

I’m talking about a life partner. I’m only interested in a relationship that I can rest in, can count on, can lean into until the end of the world.

Where Do We Start?

Online dating is a good starting place for your journey forward. There are several benefits to engaging with online dating through the apps (Tinder, Bumble) or the sites (, OK Cupid, eHarmony) that may give you some lift and energy for the relationship/dating road ahead.

the loss of another relationship

Building Your Online Dating Profile – Part 1 (About Me)

Here is what I bring to the table. Here are the things I like to do. Here are some pictures (recent please!) of my best self. And here are my relationship goals. “No hookups, please. Trump supporters, swipe left.” If your photos all involve alcohol or tropical locations, you’re signaling to potential partners, “Hey let’s drink and go on vacation a lot.” Personally, I’m not all that interested in bars or drinking as entertainment, so the margarita shot is actually a red flag for me. If “wine tasting” is listed as one of your strengths, we’re not going to get along.

Building Your Online Dating Profile – Part 2 (About My Ideal Partner)

“If you’re looking at my profile, let’s get a few things straight: I’m monogamous. I’m politically left. I believe in women’s rights. And I’m fit, so I hope you are also in touch with your body and how it looks and feels.” It’s important to build up a concept of your ideal partner. Even if you are going for ideals here, it’s critical to know what you DO want as well as what you DO NOT want.

Building Your Online Dating Profile – Part 3 (What Will We Do Together)

Lifestyle is one of the most important parts of building a lasting relationship. When I shared a passion with my partner, it was easy for us to spend time together. When our passions did not line up, it became painfully clear that our relationship was headed for disaster. Pay close attention to what you do on the weekends. Is that something you want a partner for? For tennis, you need a partner. Reading or writing, becomes an obligation that takes you out of your creative zone. Make a note of what you do for fun, not what you want to do for fun, or what you aspired to do for fun. What things get you off your butt and out in the real world. Find a partner who can join with you on over 50% of those things. Not 100%, because that’s a different problem altogether.

Building Your Online Dating Profile – Part 4 (An outline for aspirational love)

Much of what is missing today in “dating” and online dating is the lack of ambition, commitment, and creativity. We settle for nice. We settle for good sex with a crappy partner. We settle for crappy sex with a beautiful partner. We settle for assholes because we think it’s the best we can do. We settle, period.

There is no settling if you are looking for your lifetime partner. If the “dating” part is not building toward the Relationship part, there’s no point in continuing. If you set your intentions on 100% of nothing, you may find yourself alone for a while, but you will not waste time on “nice to haves” with partners who are not very good for us. You can find comfort in dating and sex, but if it is not building towards your goal of a lasting partnership, it is a waste of time.

Seven Things That Make Relationships Last

  1. Honesty
  2. Kindness
  3. Not taking your partner for granted
  4. Chemistry
  5. Appreciation
  6. Joy
  7. Mutual Adoration

Notice what’s not on *my* list. Money. Sex. Sports cars. Fancy vacations. Better tequila.

Now I’m Ready to Start

Once you’ve got your long-term goals in hand you can approach online dating or real-world dating with a map. This *map* can serve you well. Here’s the question you need to ask yourself repeatedly as youre navigating early dating and early relationship-building.

Is this action/behavior going to move me TOWARDS my partner or AWAY from my partner?

If you’re serious about building a lasting relationship you’re going to refocus your attention on moving towards your lover with every intention and action. If you’re relationship-avoidant you might drift, choose vacations or activities that do not include your partner. This is also a strong signal.

Watch what your partner does not what they say. Action is all that matters. Kind words, good intentions, and a million “I’m sorry, but”s does not excuse anyone from bad or selfish behaviors. When your partner’s actions are AWAY from you rather than TOWARDS you, it is time to go.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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Further Reading:

Dating 2.0

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