It’s 2016. I’m 28 and living in Denver. I have amazing friends, a full social calendar, and a brand-new apartment that I'm grateful for every morning when I wake up. I go to a job that fulfills me and pays me well. I have a kitchen with tons of counter space and all the storage I need for my collection of cooking paraphernalia. But I have no one with whom to share the meals.
I am single. My heart has healed from its most recent thrashing a year and ahalf earlier, and I am ready for something real. Sure, I learned a lot about myself through various escapades when I was younger, but after this breakup, nothing was working. I was bored. I had gotten my wayward youth out of my system and I was ready to find something more meaningful.
So I did.
I am now sitting in Mexico with the love of my life: a handsome, considerate, funny, man who loves all of me unconditionally—and I actually think there are identifiable and workable steps that got me here. As with most life truths, these steps were simple, but they were not easy:
1. I worked on myself first.
I created a life I was proud of and fulfilled by. I was not looking for a man to pay my bills, pick up the check, make me feel happy, or fill any voids. I knew that a man would be a beautiful addition to my life, NOT a solution to anything missing. The most frustrating part? This takes time! But I could not rely on anyone else for my happiness. I wanted to be truly in love, not dependent.
2. I showed up—every single day.
I put in "the work." I made a deal with the Universe. I said, "I will come to my mat and meditate every single day. I will not only tell You I am ready; I will show You. I will take physical steps that exhibit I am serious about this."
And then I did it. I woke up every day and sat in meditation. I then told God/Whoever Was Listening that I was ready. I used a mantra I had picked up from a speaker I really liked that went something like this: "I am complete. I am whole. I am ready to share my life with my soul mate."
It was as simple as that in the beginning. My soul mate would not be a fix, because my life didn’t need "fixing." He would be someone I enjoyed and shared life with. And by showing up every day, I was manifesting.
3. I focused on feelings, not traits.
Years ago I had made a list of exactly what I wanted in a man. Maybe those lists work for some people, but as soon as I started to focus on how I wanted to feel with this mystery mate, and not how I wanted him to look or behave, I saw results.
I would picture us laughing together, traveling together, watching sunsets together, and I would picture how happy, appreciative, and safe I felt. Feelings authentically attract what we want or don’t want—not punch lists of who we want someone to be.
4. I learned how to be a team player by communicating.
I knew I had self-sabotaging relationship behaviors. If I wanted things to be different, I had to make different choices.
After I had met Chris (and we weren’t technically together yet), my car was stolen. I had told him the next morning what had happened and he hadn’t offered to come over yet. I wanted him to come over though, because I felt terrible.
Old actions would be as follows: Feel embarrassed. Who gets their car stolen? I am so irresponsible. He is amazing; he doesn’t want to be with someone who attracts this type of drama. Act like it isn’t a big deal so he knows I can handle my shit and I am not a drama queen. New actions: Think about what I need in the moment—not my projection of what he wants. Instead of trying to act how I think he wants me to act, I am going to be communicative and give him the opportunity to hear me. He's wonderful, but he's not a mind reader.
So I texted him that it would be nice to see him because I was bummed. He was at my door in half an hour with a bottle of wine in hand. I just had to ask.
5. I let things happen in their own time.
Without going into too much detail, from a relational standpoint, we took things really slow. We spent almost every day together for six months before we said we were "boyfriend and girlfriend." He satisfied me, I was confident in our feelings for each other, and when it felt natural, we had the exclusivity talk. We let each other behave exactly how we wanted to—without any pressure. Since we cared so deeply for each other, we were caring and respectful. Not because we had a label but because we loved each other.
And it is beautiful and beyond what I imagined every morning after meditation on my kitchen floor. I'm not saying this an exact formula for romance, but I don’t think anything negative could come from implementing these steps and getting to know yourself a little better. Even just one of them—it might be exactly what you need if you’re tired of cooking for one.