“Put Yourself Out there”

“I will no longer be seeking a relationship. It’s just too discouraging and hopeless. I’ll be taking up my hobbies instead.”

That’s the email I received from a man who placed an ad on craigslist looking for love. I met him for coffee in response to his ad. I figured we weren’t a match after he saw my daughter drop me off and asked if she was single and interested in a relationship.

I thought, ‘…man..really? You’re going to ask me about my pretty, young daughter when I’m standing right here sort of on a date with you? Really?’  That’s part of what I thought, I also had some curses in there and a whirlwind of other rejection memories laying out like a list of all the ways I’m not good enough for dating or really much of anything. 

That’s the problem with taking the advice of your friends who suggest “Putting yourself out there”.  You’re out there and working without the security of knowing each other, understanding the bounds of respect and restrictions on behavior because, well, you know each other.  Meeting a total stranger for a date may sound at some level romantic but it’s equally a set up for profound rejection.  I’m not a big fan of profound rejection because it takes me right back to the playground and the years of hiding out in the bathroom, teachers classroom or library just to avoid the brutality of profound rejection which met me nearly every time I ventured out toward the swings among the herd of screaming kids who all seemed just fine with recess.  I learned then that I’m weird. It’s okay, don’t wince, I’m fine. I’ve made it an asset and told myself it’s all mostly good until I “put myself out there” and see why I chose to hide in the bathroom as a child.   Rejection is ugly and I’m even uglier when I’m in it.

Which brings me to the question, the central theme, do I really need to have a relationship? Now I understand as a human being, a part of the grand and glorious Great Ape family that I’m wired for love and the need for it runs through my DNA as much as the need to breathe, literally.  People cannot live without love which is why we seek it. That’s fine but can’t I love without the romantic, sticky, rejection prone, self conscious inducing romantic kind? Maybe I’m just weak but I’d like to think I can. 

I want my cake and I want to eat it.  I want to continue gaining great satisfaction from my love connection with my children who are my best friends, my grand daughter who is a roller coaster ride of love and yes, even my former husband who has been my friend for twenty five years.

I want to have time with my friends who I love uniquely like the snowflakes they are, since there are no two alike, to hang out whenever they call and I want to pour my heart into my work when it’s engaging me and to just answer that text or email because I also love it when I do and hate it when I do but am fortunate to be passionate about both of those times. 

Let me not forget to mention that I want to love my dog Daisy as the high priestess that she is on the pedestal of my heart snoring and running in her sleep next to me in bed, dog breath in high gear, laying on the pillow and sometimes taking a loud middle of the night bath.  Now that’s love baby!

In fact, this is all love, isn’t it?  It’s not some second tier, second class kind of love that I’m accepting because I can’t have the real deal, grand dragon, super boss of love–romance–is it? 

I’ve had the romantic kind. It was nice when it worked but when it didn’t it was a soul drilling, mind bending, body aching catastrophe of love which shot me out of a cannon and into the deep space of day dreaming about running with nothing but the clothes on my back. Only romantic love can do that for you. My children, friends, work and dog never make me want to run without looking back.  At its worst those loves make me think once in a while; “whatever dude.” 

It’s been said by everyone from Jesus to the scraggly haired guy next to me on the bus; every little thing needs love. I want to give love and get it with equanimity. I’d like to make it my goal to love without expectation.  I don’t think I need online dating, craigslist or any other service to just do that hard but simple thing. I also don’t think I need romance to love every little thing. I think I just need to put my heart “out there” which is wherever I find myself at the time.

“I will no longer be seeking a relationship” as the craigslist guy said, but not because it’s hopeless but because I have greater hope for the love I already have which does not have to look like a movie, love song or jewelry commercial but only has to look like what makes me happy.

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