Hanging On vs. Moving On

Sometimes the Universe is a subtle beast…I search and search for a sign to answer a prayer, and nothing comes. Last week was not one of those weeks. No, last week, the Universe decided to gut-punch me with messages. I’m having mixed feelings about this tough-love approach, but I can appreciate the art in the delivery. I am also very grateful for it.
As many of you know, I’ve been trying Match.com for the last few months. I’ve been going over in my head the reasons I joined:

  • I am looking for a partner.
  • I have trouble meeting the “right type” of men in bars/ at events.
  • Passive Portland Men. Enough said.
  • I am sick of my family harassing me.
  • I am starting to wonder what the deal is. Am I abnormal? (Ye gads! 32 and single?!) (Please be aware that I am invoking a sarcastic tone here.)
  • I’m pretty much Last Woman Standing when it comes to my friends and their marriage status.
  • And, oh yeah, I AM LOOKING FOR LOVE!!

Then, this thought creeps into my brain: what if I am truly not ready? Friends, advice columnists, and relatives are always telling me that unless I am fully ready in mind, body, and spirit, God/the Universe/Grace/the faeries/Mary Magdalene will not send me my true love. Agreed! However, I am in the prime of my life mentally and physically, so what’s the hold up?
This week, my subconscious gave me a few jolts that essentially told me to start really paying attention in this search for love.
Episode #1: The Dream
This dream was about the first man I spent any amount of romantic time with after I moved to Portland. It was an extremely passionate and somewhat unhealthy relationship, but it taught me a lot, and I don’t regret it. When I woke up from this dream, I was so shaken by it that I immediately wrote it down so I could reflect later. Following is what I wrote:
I went back to the old apartments where our affair took place. I was with HR’s sister, HJ. HR appeared to me one night. I saw his jacket in an empty apartment. HJ left, and I went up the stairs alone. He was there, waiting for me in the dark. He lay down on top of my body, the way he used to, using his whole weight. We talked about us, about the good times. His jacket crackled against my skin. I could smell him, feel him. He knew the tears that were on my face; he was in them. When he reached to brush them away, he became them. We shared our sacred moment and then it was time to go. It felt like we had laid there for a lifetime, memories casting into the dark like meteors. I knew I had to walk away, but it was truly painful. I somehow floated out of the pitch darkness and down to an equally dark parking lot. HJ found me in a confused crumpled state. She helped me as she could, the only way she could. She knew it was time to go as well. We drove away from there, but not before his wife appeared and saw her husband’s jacket inside my car. She said I had to let it go. She didn’t see his ghost inside it, wanting to stay with me. She didn’t smell his cologne and know our thousands of memories, but she was right, and she took it anyway. I left, feeling empty. But then all I saw was light!
So, it’s time to let go and move on. I haven’t thought about my relationship with HR in years, though I still have occasional contact with both he and his sister. I think my subconscious was trying to give me a big enough message that I would understand…like I said, it’s not about subtlety.
Episode #2:  First Contact
I was browsing on Match.com Tuesday, and happened to notice a man in my matches who I’d recently been involved with. Though we’re no longer involved romantically, we see each other at events and occasionally share a pleasant conversation with an easy rapport. I always suspected he wasn’t “the one,” but seeing his profile right in front of me prompted a typical womanly reaction—instant and superfluous jealousy, mixed with a bit of sadness. Show me a woman who hasn’t had a reaction like this from seeing an ex-lust object who has moved on, and I’ll show you a half-pig, half man with butterfly wings!
However. If you’ve been on Match before, you’d know that when you’re a paying member, you can see everyone who has looked at your profile. So I was stuck. I had to say something, or else look like a complete stalker. After about a half hour of typing, deleting, and typing more, I came up with the perfect, witty note to send. It was something along the lines of “The universe has some sense of humor to match us together, eh? Good luck in your search!” The last sentence was to show him that I wasn’t looking to “Match” up with him, that I merely wanted to let him know I wasn’t expecting an answer or a relationship. He did indeed write me back, a sincere note, even. I was shocked, and pleased. I was relieved that he didn’t come back with a sarcastic answer, or worse yet, no answer, but it was another clear signal from the Universe that it was time to look for the right one in greener pastures. (Although I’m sure his pasture is just the right color of green for some other lovely lady.)
Episode #3:  The Blog Post
I am a reader of a friend’s blog entitled Doc Blog, by Dr. Jeff. The author is a psychologist who lives in Portland and I thoroughly enjoy his posts. His posts range from topics about loving our whole self, forgiveness, tips for choosing a psychologist, “paying it forward” to create self-happiness, and other related themes. I hadn’t checked out his blog in a while. It’s on my Google reader, and sometimes I get lazy and don’t open it for several weeks. Last week I was destined to read it. I’m telling you, the Universe knows what’s up and how to give it to me straight. I clicked on a blog post entitled A one-minute method to help move past old hurts.” He has posted several of these one-minute themed posts, and they always seem to come at just the right time.
I’ll try to sum up the blog post eloquentlyif possible. You can also click on any of the links I have attached to this post, which will take you to the full website. (You should—he’s a great writer!) What Dr. Jeff is trying to explain here is that people tend to hang on to old wounds (like being hurt by a romantic partner or clinging to mother issues) and fear (like being afraid to open up to real love) because they are stalling. It’s an excuse not to move forward. Whether it’s because it’s their comfort zone (Pain can be a constant companion, and just because it hurts doesn’t make it any less familiar.) or because they are truly not finished dealing with the issue, Dr. Jeff suggests that we look at our lives, and take that needed step forward. Believe me, I am working on it! This post was an excellent reminder of the good work I am doing and what still needs to be done. It also told me that great things are coming my way, if I let them.
He left me with these words:
Take your minute. Use it to move yourself forward. Then tell yourself you are beautiful, strong, and capable. Because you are.

A Brave New Girl

The new wave of Match.com is in-person events, an idea that should have been introduced ages ago. I know, I know, it’s ONLINE dating, but the thing is, online dating can be incredibly awkward! Don’t get me wrong—I believe in the power of online dating. Case in point:  I found my last boyfriend on Match. I can name 4 couples off the top of my head that are now engaged or married to their Matches…but let’s be honest:  Men are very visual creatures. If you happen to post a picture at a bad angle or you’re having lousy hair the weekend you went to Vegas and snapped all those pictures that you put on your profile, you can’t talk your way out of his opinion of you with biting wit and funny jokes. It’s click, moving on to the next lady. Ouch.
Enter an event where you are sure to be surrounded by eligible bachelors, but you’re not forced to talk to every single one of them, like in speed dating. Last night I was bold enough to attend one of these first Match.com “Stir” events. I had no idea what to expect, and I was terrified of the unknown, so I did what any normal single woman would do:  I brought along my trusty wing women.
The three of us walked into the Radio Room in NE Portland and spotted the hostess standing behind a sign that read “Networking Event Check-in.” (Seriously!? Let’s just call it what it is, folks. We are all here because we are single and looking!) So, we checked in. Then she leaned over and told us that the event was open to the entire bar, however it was also open to the public!?!? WHAT??? Not only were we entering an event that marked us as lonely, pitiful singletons, but we were also facing certain social death-by-mortification by bravely approaching a handsome fellow to talk to him, only to find out he had a fiancée, or worse, was gay!!
So, following the single women’s code, we stayed tightly in our gaggle, and actually added more women to it, ending up with six beautiful (pitiful, lonely) ladies at one table, looking at each other and snickering. Very soon, my wing women locked eyes with me and we decided that we would never meet a man this way. We got up and headed to the bar…and ran into yet another girlfriend! This was not going the way we expected. There was no event host; there were no games, and no ice breakers. Basically this was a regular happy hour at a bar in Anytown, USA. How exactly were we supposed to find love in this setup? Weren’t we obviously on Match.com to help us find dates because we felt uncomfortable hitting on people at the bar? I found myself questioning my decision to click YES on that RSVP.
In addition to my nerves about the event in general, I had been sweating bullets for another reason. At the Radio Room that evening, there were short women, tall women, exotic ones, plain Janes, and there was me. I’m the cute, petite, curly-haired girl with the big personality and a hundred hobbies. I can ask a man to salsa, I can belly dance in front of a live audience, and I am a smart, talented writer. Do I feel that way when it comes to dating? No way. The moment I walked in, I was panicked. I have this bad habit of comparing myself to women all the time. It is intensely exhausting, but I find myself doing it every day. I can’t believe how much energy I could have been refunded, had there been that option, on time wasted thinking about other women that I don’t even know! As I looked around, I realized there was no way I was going to be able to stand out in the crowd. Hell, most of the crowd couldn’t see me, even with the 3-inch wedges I was standing in (I’m 5’1″). I knew I couldn’t let this opportunity pass. The men looked more terrified than the women, so I had to quickly confront my fears and be the guru of my own destiny.
In a moment of rare courage, I took the reins and grabbed one of my girlfriends. I said, “We are going to that table right there. We are going to sit down and ask those guys why they haven’t talked to any girls yet!” We crossed our fingers, hoping that they were part of the event and weren’t already on a date with each other! (Hey, this is Portland…my Gaydar has failed many times over the years here.)
We sat down, I spewed out my ice-breaker (hopefully with a winning smile on my face)…and the next hour and 20 minutes flew by like wildfire! The man I talked to was tall, a ginger (strawberry blonde), strong enough to pick me up without hurting himself, and he was a fantastic conversationalist. I was so surprised when my other wing woman came over and told me it was 9:00! We thanked the men for their hospitality, and started gathering our purses and coats. My friend looked thrilled when Paul asked for her number. Unfortunately my guy was solely a wing man and said he wasn’t looking for anything serious at the moment because he was focused on school. I was disappointed, but thanked him for his honesty and wished him luck with his Master’s Degree.
It’s true, I was saddened that my bold move hadn’t gotten me any bounty, but in the car on the way home, I heard how excited my girlfriend was about meeting Paul, and the feeling wasn’t so sour anymore. Plus, I had a great conversation with a man who was easy on the eyes, had some laughs, and a yummy cocktail. My night wasn’t a loss at all!
Perhaps this is the Universe’s way of telling me to keep the faith. There are good men out there, and I just need to hold out for the right one. This way, I know that when I meet a good one, I’ll have a bevy of stories to keep him entertained for at least one coffee date!

Number 1

Girlfriend, you’re number ONE!