"Letting go is an act of faith, and then the universe provides for you what was really meant to be." ~ Amy Poehler
I have never been a fan of "contrived" dating -- you know, any method that forces fate's hand when it comes to meeting someone. And before you feel compelled to tell me that I'll die alone, or how happy you are with your girlfriend/husband/life partner that you met on JDate -- please don't. I'm not saying it doesn't work, I'm just saying it doesn't work for me.
Not that I haven't tried it, all of it: online dating, matchmakers, speed dating... all it's ever done is make me more certain that there's no one normal left. Oh, and made me the star of my very own, real-life Law & Order SVU episode -- complete with a sympathetic detective, Brooklyn ADA, and thankfully, a restraining order. So there's that...
I'll try just about anything once, and I am the biggest cheerleader for creating your own happiness, whatever that is for you. Hate your job? Go find a new one. Want to move to London? Jump the pond. Have a dream to travel three months of the year? Make it happen. Same goes with just about any other material thing you could dream of. There is nothing you can't accomplish in this world if you set your mind to it. With one exception: love.
I'm not talking about simply being in any relationship or marriage, that's a bit easier. I'm talking about real, deep, soul-fulfilling, passionate love. That's what I want. And since I've been both blessed and cursed to have known what that feels like several times in my life, it's impossible for me to settle for less.
I believe in fate as much as I believe in creating your own "miracles." Life is a balance of both. But I do not believe you can make love happen. In fact, unlike every other goal in our lives, this is one area where trying is a turnoff.
Nothing reeks so strongly like the smell of desperation or lack. Ever notice how the nights you get all dolled up for Girls Night, on a mission to "meet someone," are the nights you feel like you accidentally sprayed on man-repellant and end up alone, drunk off your ass from one too many White Russians? Or is that just me?
Instead, the night you stop at the bar by yourself to write, straight from a great workout at the gym -- that's the night a cute fireman asks for your number.
There's nothing more attractive than someone who is happy and passionate about their life. That kind of energy draws people and opportunities to you, like moths to the flame. This is why I could not disagree more with "Fuck Fate and Date Like a Grownup" author, Terri Trespicio, when she says "it's time to grow the fuck up" and "go after" love.
(And for the record, if swearing profusely were all it took to be a professional writer, every 13-year-old would have a Pulitzer.)
I don't mean stop wanting love. Want it -- badly! To me, love is the only thing that truly matters. At the end of the day, when a pressure cooker bomb explodes, or Hurricane Sandy hits, or aliens finally do invade -- no one cares about anything more than the ones they love. Or, sadly, the ones they've lost. That is the dilemma. Love matters most, but unlike all the less important goals, it's much harder to manifest.
Instead, I'm suggesting that we stop going out of our way to find "him." Want to attract people and love into your life? Do whatever makes you radiate happiness and joy. Find something that makes your heart sing and you smile from ear to ear.
For me, nine years ago it was dancing. I started with salsa and swing and before I knew it, I was competing in a dozen different partner dances, from samba to two-step. I have never been happier, or healthier. To this day if you want to pick me out from the crowd on any dance floor, just look for the girl with the ridiculously huge smile on her face. Dancing makes me that happy.
When I met the last love of my life, I was dancing and passionately working on opening my own modern-day supper club. I'd been single for six years but happier than ever. Not only did that passion make me more interesting and alluring, but as an added bonus, I didn't care so much if I heard from him (even though I did). Which also made me that much more desirable.
"I LOVE that you don't need me," he confessed one night, early in our relationship. And I didn't. I wasn't playing hard to get -- I was hard to get. I was busy, living my life, which I swear was the best aphrodisiac ever.
I think the best explanation I've heard of this power is in one of Amy Poehler's amazing "Ask Amy" videos. In "Letting Go" she offers an answer to a 15-year-old girl who asks, "How do I get guys to notice me?"
"How about, the way to get guys to notice you is to stop trying," Amy gently suggests. "To let go of the idea of trying. What I mean is, you don't have to let go of what you want... but this feeling of trying." Instead she suggests "thinking about what we like to do and who we are, and what makes us happy."
"So maybe if you stopped trying (to get boys to like you) then you could take some of that energy and turn it back on yourself. And then, you become more attractive when you love yourself. You ATTRACT the right things when you have a sense of who you are."
I'm thinking Amy might agree with me that the same holds true for grown women. But it gets a bit trickier.
In last month's Time magazine article"Marry young!" author Joel Stein quoted his sister on why this gets harder as we get older. "As they get older, guys get better at honing their skills and deceiving women, and women get worse because they get desperate because they want a family..." she says.
So exactly when does determination become desperation? Is it when, like my brilliant and beautiful doctor friend Kathy, you fill all of your free time on first dates and meeting matchmaking rabbis? Or is it when, like my smart and successful advertising friend, Laura, you spend $900 for a weekend seminar with a dating expert?
And if you aren't "out there" and searching online, you're often accused of not trying. A friend who I hadn't seen in a while recently asked me "Well, are you looking?" To which I hesitantly answered, "No, actually -- I'm not." I'm more than open to meeting the right someone, but am really uncomfortable with the energy "looking" creates. I'd much rather be "found."
It's truly the ultimate lesson in letting go: to be over 35, wanting love and a family as much as women like myself do, without any real power to do anything about it. The desire to love someone is so good, and so strong -- and so out of our hands. The only antidote I've found is to throw yourself into someTHING you love. To find your passion.
Today, my passion is my writing. It's given me a sense of purpose and allowed me to connect with people in a way I have missed for several years. And it's attracting new and wonderful people and opportunities into my life. Including men. I'm meeting more men, many of them, in places and ways I haven't in a long time. I have to believe it has to do with my energy. I'm feeling more and more positive, and everyone wants to be around positive people. That's bound to be more powerful than the Millionaire Matchmaker, eHarmony and NY Easy Dates combined.
Which is why I urge women of all ages to stop trying to find love -- and let it find you instead. Let your passion be the smoke signals that lure it to you. When you find your true passion -- one that makes you light up from the inside out -- something shifts inside you. You become more interesting and have more to share. And that's when you're most likely to attract the right opportunities into your life. And ultimately, the right man.