This is not a guide to finding the person you’re meant to be with because there’s no script for that moment, no play to act out, no right or wrong way to find what’s meant to be. You do what you love and somewhere in that love appears a person, suddenly, simply, and it will be easy. It will be the rightest moment of your entire life.
But until then you have other moments. Wrenching and disappointing moments with people that are not meant for you even if you thought they were.
And that’s okay. We’re human; we crave intimacy, even if just for one night.
And we’re also human, made to connect with someone deeply, intensely, for possibly ever.
This is a guide to letting go of the people who do not love you, and treating the people who you do not love with compassion.
There’s an art to both, and when we can do it honestly and kindly, we make room in our lives for that person we are meant to be with.
1.) If they don’t show up, then leave them behind.
He asked me to go to the museum Tuesday, but he never called to let me know what time, so we never went. And one week later when he called to see if I wanted to go to a movie, I said, “No.”
Why? Because the first moments of dating are amazing; they might even be the most exciting time of an entire relationship. If someone stands you up, blows you off, forgets to call when they say they will, they don’t care about you. Period.
So much of our energy is spent making excuses for people who don’t treat us with respect and who don’t honor our time. Let them go so you can focus on doing something that you love, and finding someone who respects that.
2.) Know the difference between confidence and asshole-ism
I was sitting on my surfboard utterly confused. There, surfing next to me was the guy that canceled our surfing date that morning, and here he was, surfing and ignoring me. Basically, on a very simple human level, being an asshole.
Yet I was more distraught about how I had spent months being wooed by him. He wasn’t like this at first, right?
I recalled our first dates and remembered that he talked a lot about himself, in fact, so much that I spent all the time asking him questions about his life.
And he treated other people poorly. Not all the time, not every single person, but sometimes people I didn’t know.
Listen closely: Women don’t like assholes, and men don’t like bitches. We all like people who are confident, but sometimes we mistake the brazenness of an asshole for the confidence of a gentleman.
Know the difference:
- Assholes spend most of the time talking about themselves. Confident people don’t need to, they already believe in themselves. They spend more time asking questions about your life.
- An asshole makes snarky comments about others and treats them rudely. A confident person has compassion and wants to help others.
If someone shows the slightest bit of ashole-bitcheness, drop them. If someone is being an asshole to someone else, forget them. It’s not you today, but it will be you tomorrow. You don’t deserve to be treated that way, ever.
3.) Be in a place that speaks your dating language
I don’t know how to say this other than I spent five-years in New York City and never had a relationship, and spent five months in New Orleans and fell in love. There’s something to that.
Perhaps it’s that New York City is one of the top dating cities for a very anti-relationship reason: everyone is single. There’s an unlimited pool to date from because no one ever commits.
Or maybe it’s that New Orleans is smaller than New York and has a strong sense of history. People are drawn to laying roots, to grounding themselves in the culture of that slow steamy port-town.
I don’t know what it is. But I do know that there are places that lend themselves to connection and intimacy; to the gentle patience of unraveling a person and discovering who they are. Find that place and live there. Not to fall in love, but to find a community.
4.) Be humane to yourself and others
He was an amazing guy: confident, kind, athletic, basically everything that I had ever wanted. Except he wasn’t the one for me. No reason, other than that floating feeling that he wasn’t it.
But he liked me. I could see those pools of love welling in his eyes, I could feel him falling as fast as possible into our relationship, which would be perfect. If I loved him back.
So I ended it. He came over, bright eyes and wielding his pillow to spend the night, and as wrenching as it was for me to do it, I sat him down and told him I couldn’t be with him.
It’s hard to end things with people for a good reason-- we’re compassionate. We hate to disappoint.
But it can also be hard to end things for horrible reasons; the person likes us more than we like them, and we have power. We know we can eck by treating them whatever way we want and they’ll take it.
But you need to be humane. You need to stop a relationship when the person starts falling for you and you don’t feel the same. It’s not that you couldn’t ride that wave for a time, you could and it may be nice to have companionship, but it’s not fair to let their emotions get entangled, it’s not fair to break their hearts.
And it’s not fair to you. When you’re with a person that you know isn’t right for you, there’s no room to discover the one who is.
5.) And the others.
On the road to finding long-lasting love, we crave intimacy. Sharing an evening with someone is wonderful, even if just for a night; having a connection that lasts a week is amazing, however fleeting.
But until you find that person that feels right as rain, be kind, be graceful, be human, and know when to let go.