THE BLOG
08/31/2015 09:40 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2016

If We Want Better Love Lives, We Have to Start Making Better Choices

After getting out a serious relationship two years ago (which I thought was going to be "it"), I needed some time to heal and take stock of what I had learned. But for the past year or so, I have really started wanting to be in a relationship again. I'll even take it further and say after lots of "work" on myself and soul-searching, I am ready to fall in love and build a meaningful life with the right man. How exciting, right!? Umm...not so fast.... Because, guess what? If you want to fall (mutually) in love with a man, he has to be willing and open to falling in love as well. If you want to build a relationship with a man that can head towards creating a life together, he also has to be ready, open, and available for that. Wait... there are two people involved in this equation? Damn.

I've been able to meet and date guys that I like, but none of them have grown into anything. So I was sure that meant I just have bad luck in the love department. I had been jumping from short-term thing to short-term thing, which really broke my heart, because I came to the conclusion that having the deeply loving, sharing relationship and partnership which my soul so truly desires will just never happen for me, like ever (cue violins). And that is a painful thought. It sucks. It's not fair... So, I got angry at the universe. Then I got sad. Then I got numb and decided I'd just have to accept being alone my whole life. But then, I realized I was acting like a pouty child, playing the victim. Hold on. Maybe I have something to do with this. Maybe it's not simply bad luck. Maybe I should actually take a step back and look at the guys I have chosen to invest any sort of extended amount of emotion, time, and energy in over the past year and a half. And I did. And here they are, in no particular order:

A guy I have a deep emotional, intuitive, and creative (albeit often volatile) connection with, and we care very much about each other, but he has told me an infinite amount of times through both words and actions/lack of actions that he is not emotionally capable or ready for the type of relationship he and I would have;

A guy who was separated but not divorced yet (with no actual clear divorce date in site);

A guy who courted and pursued me relentlessly, but then when I finally leaned into it told me - OOPS, his bad - he wasn't actually emotionally available because the end of his last relationship messed him up. And yet he somehow lawyered me into continuing to date him by arguing that I will be the "one" when he's ready again, so I should just hang out and give him everything he wants on his terms until then;

A grown man that still lives like a frat boy, who not only has no car, but also - I learned the hard way sadly - no integrity.

And, a 23 year-old who is awesome, but come on...

Oh, and on top of the other stuff, in addition to the one I already mentioned, two other ones had also recently gotten out of long-term relationships that kinda f*cked them up. So, of course none of these situations could grow into love or a relationship; none of these guys were ready, open, and available on one or more of these levels - emotionally, physically, mentally, even legally! Clearly they were in no place to have the sort of relationship I want. And I knew this, but chose to invest in them anyways. WTF!?? Holy shit... I'm not a victim. I'm responsible. I chose this!

Certainly, it depends on where you are in your life and what you want romantically. If you're in the place where you want to casually date or have flings, then awesome... none of what I'm talking about even comes into play. But if you are ready to find that person to have a deep, meaningful relationship with, then you have to start with someone who is also on that same page to see if it can grow. And that's what I want. And none of these guys were on that same page. And I knew it. But I got involved anyways.

Why, you may ask, did I get involved anyways? Well, I liked them, obviously, and I looked past all the potential red flags because I've been a hopeless romantic my whole life, which has gotten my heart into lots of trouble, but also makes me who I am. So, whenever I've had a passionate, strong, intense connection with a man, regardless of his situation, I have tended to jump in and go for it. Historically, I have let that chemistry trump all else, and the hopeless romantic in me thinks that love might grow, things might change, he might become ready and available - you know, all those things we tell ourselves, which 9 times out of 10 do not happen. But that changes now: I'm not willing to wait around anymore to see if these guys can "become" ready and available. And I have to make better choices about the men I choose to engage with because of it. I'm over settling for less.... I've been doing it for too long, and I have not been taking responsibility for it. I have been blaming the universe. Lame.

What a powerful realization: I am not a victim to my love life, I've just been making bad choices with regards to what it is I want. If you've been feeling like I felt - poor me, it's never going to happen, it's not fair, why God why - stop for a moment and take a look at the people you're choosing to date. They tell you who they are, what they want, and what they are or aren't capable of... LISTEN. They show you who they are and where they are in their lives... you can see their intentions through their actions... WATCH. Don't make excuses for them or live in happily-ever-after fantasy land, thinking they will miraculously change if you wait around long enough. They won't.

Look at the men you are allowing into your life and into your bed. If you are ready for something committed, real, and special, and it is clear to you they are not, then all they're doing is taking up space for a man out there who wants to cherish you, create and build a life with you, fall in love with you, and show up for you how you need. And please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying, nor do I believe for a second, that just because a man is ready and available means you should jump into a relationship with him, give up everything else you're looking for, think it's meant to be, or anything like that. There are multiple other factors at play, of course. But it at least gives you a starting point and a common soil from which to see if something can grow.

I want a better love life, and so I have already begun making better choices. These choices are different for me, and it feels uncomfortable because it's not what I'm used to. But it makes me feel empowered and hopeful. Because I am not a victim to my love life anymore... and you don't need to be either.