“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi
I haven’t had a boyfriend in over six years.
But, more than this, I have had no flings, no short term flirtations, nothing. I also don’t like one night stands. Reaching the point of having sex with someone requires a level of intimacy and comfort I can’t achieve in a few hours. It’s just not my thing. So, I’ve been single, single.
My first draft of this article followed the date a woman who formula. Mine was about dating a woman who scares you. The editor told me it seemed like a cop-out; in essence, I was blaming men’s fear of strong and independent women for my single status.
The reality is far more complex than that.
I am housesitting a home with two cats at the moment. The little ginger one does this thing where she rubs up against me, comes so close, but, when I reach out to give her the attention she’s asking for, she moves away, shakes and scuttles and does this little dance—legs raised, tail shaking fervently in the air. She both craves affection and fears it. She comes close but inevitably, at least at first, fear gets the better of her.
Watching this little dance, I realise: this is me. I both crave and fear love. The fear holds me back.
We all fear different things when it comes to relationships. One of my fears is of rejection. I meet a man, like him, and even get the impression he reciprocates; but then I convince myself there is no way he can possibly like me and move on.
It wasn’t always this way.
Over the years, and the longer I’m single, the more this fear seems to grow. There is a part of me that must believe there is something intrinsically wrong with me that men don’t like or that I do wrong; otherwise, how could I be single for so long?
In this time of being single, I have learned a lot about what I want and don’t want. I’ve changed my mind on many things. For example, I really wanted to get married. Now I see marriage as a bureaucratic institution I’d rather not be part of.
This was a game changer. I realised I was so busy looking for “the one” that I’d missed the chance of love or relationship with those I believed I could never marry and therefore didn’t want to waste my time with.
Now I know how important all connections are.
The most intense relationship I’ve had lasted one month with a man I knew was leaving the country. It scared me to feel so much so quickly. In the end, it hurt to say goodbye. But, I wouldn’t take back that month to avoid the pain. The joy was absolutely worth it!
As I got older, I convinced myself it was time to “settle” down. It was time to stop messing around, time to meet the man I would marry so that we could have kids and start a life together.
For a long time that was all I wanted. I didn’t have it and it made me miserable. I wasn’t living the life I was given instead; I was bemoaning the life I didn’t have that I thought I deserved.
This realisation allowed me to begin to live life as it was showing up for me. I spent over a year backpacking around Central and North America. I let go of the need to find a partner so that I could truly live again.
I became more of who I already was.
This meant I could finally meet men and not wonder if they were “the one.” I began to enjoy connections for what they were again, not needing them to be anything else. I grew to accept myself more, even the barriers I had that were preventing me from having what I so desperately craved.
I began to trust life more, to enjoy life more.
And so, while I am still single, it is no longer something I fear. There is no doubt I get lonely. There is no doubt I want a partner. But now, I don’t allow these very natural feelings to get in the way of enjoying life and of living it to the fullest.
Author: Bianca Marks
Editor: Caroline Beaton