I am a terminally single woman in her thirties. I live in one of the most exciting cities in the world, filled with smart and interesting people, and I cannot find someone to date. I have done everything possible to meet people—the Internet, weddings, friends, bars, Whole Foods, taking classes, writing a list to the universe, caring and not caring about finding love, riding the bus, and just living my life, and nothing is working. I am not bitter or jaded or giving up—mostly I feel annoyed. People fall in love every day—why can’t I? Any advice on how to find my soul mate? Please no clichés! I have been single for three years so I love myself, have been through therapy, have left it to fate, etc. I want some practical advice here.—CT, New York, New York
The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
Wow, I feel your pain, CT, especially since I’m living your exact life on the left coast. Yes, it would be amazing to find love (a soul mate seems like a tall order), but come on, being single isn’t all that bad. You could be like the millions of people in uninspiring relationships on the road to nowhere who are afraid to end it simply because they’re too afraid of being alone. Since when did being alone get such a bad rap? Sure, I’d like to have some Clive Owen-ish man around to kiss me and talk to me at the end of every day—maybe even cook me a meal or two and caulk my tub or some other manly task. But until then, my life belongs entirely to me; nobody tells me what to do or when. I don’t have to share a bed, I can watch Bravo TV all day long if I want, and I can drop $300 on a pair of shoes and not have to explain myself to anyone. (For the record, I don’t have $300 to drop on shoes.)
I commend you for all that you’re doing, but I want to share two sayings I’ve heard that might interest you; for me, they get scarily more relevant every day. "The right person will come along when you least expect it." That one really pisses me off, because I’ve “not expected anyone” for about twenty years now. But what if we took that saying at face value? That would mean that instead of waiting around for love, we could all use our lives as an excuse to do the things that bring us—and others—joy, whatever those things may be.
The second saying is the one I really like: "Be the person you want to find." So … are you? It’s not a bad thing if you’re not, but I have a feeling all those trips to Whole Foods, lists to the universe, and classes will help you get there, so keep on keepin’ on. Good luck to you—I really do hope you find love, but more importantly, I hope you find happiness and peace of mind with where you are right now.
The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
The best advice I can offer is simply to stay the course. I was just telling a single girlfriend of mine yesterday that maybe her path just hasn’t crossed that of Mr. Right’s. Sounds like I could say the same for you. Whatever the case, don’t let being single be the dominant factor in your happiness. Way too many of us think that if we were in a relationship, our lives would somehow be complete. Not necessarily true. I bet you probably have some friends who are in relationships just to be in a relationship and can’t figure out how—or why—to get out of it. Do you want that?
All I’m saying is relish in your freedom to go and do what you want, when you want, without having to check in with someone else. Be selfish about being single and be happy about it. You sound like a well-rounded woman with interests and goals. Ask yourself this: is it your goal to find someone and settle down, or do you feel pressured by everything in our society—from sappy movies to soap commercials—telling you that’s what you should do to be happy? I’m sure I’m not the first one to say this, but live your life. Don’t rely on someone else to come around—or stay around, for that matter—to help you do that.
The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
Let’s see. You love yourself, you’ve been through therapy, you’ve exhausted every possible avenue to find your “soul mate,” or at the very least a man to date, you’ve left it to fate, but still the universe conspires to keep you “terminally” single. In addition, you don’t want us to give you any “cliché” answers; you just want practical advice.
Fair enough. Here it is—turn the lights off on the pity party, cuz it’s over. Change your attitude, missy. First off, I don’t like the term “terminally” single. Cut that out now. Attitude breeds action and you can’t be giving off an inviting, enticing, positive vibe with your current thought process. You say you’re not jaded, giving up, or bitter, but using words like “terminally” doesn’t exactly make you sound optimistic, wouldn’t you agree? You’re frustrated? Granted, in some ways we all are. You don’t think most of us are trying to find love too?! It ain’t easy. I don’t know that the universe owes us a soul mate, or even dates, so the sooner you accept that, the closer you might be to being okay with being single.
Some practical stuff. Are you asking men out on dates? If you’ve tried everything as you say, I’m assuming yes. What happens when you approach men you’re interested in? What are they saying? If they’re not interested in a second date, have you gotten any feedback? Is there a consistency to their responses? On the flip side, are you getting asked out? If not, why? Are you giving off a closed off energy? Are you out of shape? Are you boring? I mean, I know New York, the Internet, Whole Foods, and weddings have people there ... just try to find parking. So you ARE meeting people. What’s going wrong with them in these situations? Are your standards too high? Too low?
Obviously, you can only control what you do and you’ve learned you can’t magically make your soul mate appear at your beck and call. Work on what you want to work on about yourself. What do you want to improve? What kind of classes do you want to take? What makes you happy? Do those things. And don’t do them as gimmicks to meet people, do them because they truly inspire and interest you. This will help you to continue getting out there and meeting people and doing what you love to boot. You’ll probably find this is the way to make your singlehood terminal, not the other way around.
The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer
Interesting that you’re asking four single people how to find a soul mate. I believe I know these other three folks well enough to say that we’re all searching for that. But I think I can help you phrase your quest in a more positive way that may set the scene for some better results.
First of all, saying that you’re “terminally” single means that this is a permanent condition—with no end in sight and no possibility for change. You may want to rephrase that. Just because this has been your history does not mean it’s your future. Remember that in order to create change in your life, you have to allow for the possibility of doing things differently and changing some habitual patterns. It’s easy to start with how you say what you say.
Also, perhaps you need to begin with a less of a lofty goal. Finding a soul mate is a tall order. It can put pressure on you and on the other person to be “the right one” from the start. Sometimes, relationships take time to blossom. What begins as a friendship may turn into ... well, who knows? So perhaps instead of looking for Mr. Forever Right, set your sights on Mr. Right Now. Have some fun with guys. Don’t make things be about being together for all eternity. Change up the way you date. If you’ve never dated two guys at once, do it. If you’ve never gone to a single’s event, check one out.
Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over in the same way and expecting different results. You’ve walked through all the tried and true things; now try some new approaches. Think outside the dating box.