Jessica, an acquaintance, had unsolicited advice for me. When we bumped into each other on the street, she shared that she had recently become engaged. "I went to everything! Every party, every event, even the ones I thought would be awful. And then I met Matthew at a singles thing I wasn't even going to go to but I rallied and went -- and that was it. He was the one!" Jessica looked me squarely in the eyes: "Go to everything. You have to. Everything. That's where you'll find him!"
"You have to be open to meeting him where you least expect it," added Kim a few weeks later. "I met my husband when I was out walking, just waiting at a red light. We exchanged glances and then we started talking... anyway, that's really the best way to meet a guy. Just look around you. He's right there! But you have to be looking."
Sara, a 34-year-old religious woman, well-past the age she expected to be married, had curious advice for me. "Stop praying to find him," she said. "I was praying every day asking God to help me find the man I would marry, and one day, I just stopped praying and stopped looking. I know it sounds crazy coming from me, but a month later, I met Adam at a friend's Shabbat dinner table. He was sitting right next to me. So, stop praying for him and you'll find him. I promise."
These well-meaning words of advice were all unsolicited. Being single is seen as a chronic problem that needs to be solved and those who just had it solved want to share their secret, i.e. the secret to finding love and getting married. Some engaged and married women believe that the way they met their spouse, or how their long-single friend met her spouse, is the one sure way to get married.
"If I were you," a long-time married friend who never online-dated offered, "I'd be on dating sites all the time. 'So-and-so' met her husband there! And 'so-and-so' is very serious with this guy she met online. I would be on online every single day. I don't know why you're not on JDate every single day! You just type in your criteria and there are men right there!"
"You have to throw out your list!" offered a recently-engaged woman via email. (Please note, I don't have a so-called 'list.') "I am engaged to a guy I never would have dated years ago, but I threw out my list and now I'm marrying the least-likely guy. And I'm so happy and in love! There are a ton of men out there but maybe you're looking for the wrong type of man."
"You have to manifest your true love, everything you desire, and your love will come into your life," emailed a woman who fell in love and married at age 42. "I created a vision board, and I started meditating on finding the one, and I wrote love letters to the man I knew would one day come into my life. And then the man I dreamed of finally came into my life! He even looks like the man on my vision board. You can manifest it, too!"
"I read Calling In The One by Katherine Woodward Thomas and a month later, I met the man I would marry! I'm sending you a copy right now. Read it! Every single chapter. Do all the exercises. You'll meet him like next week," practically guaranteed an industry colleague.
"I didn't like my husband at all on the first date, or the second or the third," offered a friend who might have been exaggerating a bit about how she felt about her great-looking, really kind, outgoing, successful husband. "But I kept going out with him and a few months later we got engaged. You have to keep giving a guy a chance. Even if you think he's not for you."
"Don't give up!" said a woman who asked me if I were dating anyone special. I am not. "You cannot give up!" she added even louder. "He's out there. You have to believe it!"
"Who said I gave up?" I replied.
Of course I believe there is love out there for me. The fact that I haven't found it yet doesn't mean it has eluded me forever."
I also believe that it simply hasn't been my time yet. Perhaps I had to become who I am today, or will be tomorrow, to attract that right man into my life. Perhaps he made the wrong choice years ago and I've had to wait for him to be ready to make the right choice. Perhaps I wasn't meant to be married just yet - or ever; maybe I'm just meant to have great moments of great love here and there. I have had those moments and they have been beautiful.
I think the secret to finding love and getting married, if that is one's goal, is not to focus on how others did it as the best or exclusive way for it to finally happen, simply because their destiny is not your own. Just like their love was not meant to be my love, or your love, their way of finding that love was meant for them.
Love is out there. I have no doubt. And when I find him, I'll be sure to not insist you do the same thing I did when I met him. After all, he and I will have both been exactly where we needed to be at the exact time we were meant to be there. Of course, just like any goal, one has to try things, put in some effort and take risks. And those things may be all, some, one or none of the solutions listed above.
The one thing I do know for sure is that I have not married the wrong man. I am not in the wrong life being the wrong wife. And so, at the very least, I know I must be doing something right.
Melanie Notkin is the national bestselling author of Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids (Morrow/HarperCollins)
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