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Finding Connection in a Lonely Dating World

I’ve been grappling with the idea that humans cannot be truly happy without a deeper connection with another human being. I happen to look up a study in Psychology Today and wouldn’t you know they sited Brene’ Brown (the author of “Daring Greatly”, that I happen to be reading). Her quote in the article is so profound;

Brene’ Brown Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, specializes in social connection. In an interview, she told me: “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.

Her book is challenging me in ways…well quite frankly, that I don’t really want to admit. I have spent the last five years of my life being a complete contradiction of myself. On one hand, I say I want to find love again while in the same breath I say that I am happily single and enjoying my freedom. Friends of mine know that I am a firm believer in “You don’t need a man to make you happy.” My other favorite phrase is; “You have to love yourself before someone else will”. These may be true, but they are also my justifications for being single after all this time.

Well, it turns out; you can’t have it both ways. I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth in true Gemini form. I’m contradicting what I truly want and that is love and connection. I hide behind my strength and show that I am fiercely independent when in reality; I’m acting in self-preservation of my vulnerability. Damn you Brene’ Brown! Damn you and your truth-telling!

As I scroll through men on Hinge (yes a new dating site), I look for any little thing to criticize or reject. Height, weight, bad angles, opposite interests, wrong sports teams, conservatives, occupation, recently divorced, never married, bad grammar…you name it!  Why? Because I’m scared to death of being vulnerable again. I say I am going to be open. I say I want to find love, but I also find any excuse to swipe left or hit delete. I thought perhaps it was because I was just “picky” or my favorite excuse that “I know what I want” but really these are criteria I’ve created to justify my unwillingness to be vulnerable and give it another try.

Just today, I turned down a date with a guy because of one chauvinistic comment. We decided on a day and time to meet, and then he asked, “Do you know what you going to wear? (Bad grammar aside) I responded, “No, I haven’t really thought about it, why?” Now, I was thinking it was because he wanted dinner and drinks by the shore and he wanted me to be comfortable, but instead, he responded, “I don’t want you to be late because you couldn’t decide what to wear”. I thought he was just trying to be funny even though the joke was in poor taste, so I played along. I responded, “You’re a comedian, huh?” and his response was, “No realist”.

I was immediately annoyed by this blatantly sexist comment, but I had the check myself. I know I can be hard on men, so I told my sister and a couple of friends to get their opinion. Surprisingly, they all thought he was a jerk, as did I, so I canceled the date. You see, there is a balance between being “open” and being an idiot for overlooking obvious signs of an asshole. The man I am going to be with, would never say something so stupid, therefore, why waste my time?

The key is that I have to be prepared to kiss a few more toads before I find my prince who is a completely evolved, socially conscious man who is acutely aware of toxic masculinity. He’s out there. I just have to remain open and allow myself to be vulnerable. He might not be on Hinge, but he’s out there somewhere and I will find him. In the meantime, I will be conscious of my fear of vulnerability, open to possibilities, aware of my contradictions and most of all learn from my past disappointments.

All these things combined are the perfect recipe for developing a strong connection with a lifelong partner. I want nothing less. No more liars, no more “friends with benefits” bullshit, no more place holders, no more shallow sweet talkers. I’m looking for the real deal. True connection on a deeper level. I crave it. It’s our human condition to want something more than a warm body without any substance. That deeper connection is what has to be nurtured in every relationship. Without it, we are lonely. Without it, we feel lost. Without it, we long for it until we find it.

I had a bit of a breakthrough this weekend. I saw a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in a long while. We were both so happy to see each other because we use to work together every day and he is such a genuine human being that I adore. He’s happily married to a gorgeous woman and I couldn’t be happier for them. It makes me have hope that I will find that one day. At the end of the night he gave me a big long hug and he told me how I look great (since I lost all that weight), how happy he was to see me, he missed me and that he loved me. Sure, it might have been the alcohol talking, but I felt the love from the moment we saw each other. He is like a brother to me and I love him too.

More importantly, at that moment, I realized what Brene’ is saying is 100% true. At that moment, I realized that I desperately miss that “affectionate love”. That genuine love for another person that means more than an empty sexual relationship. I have many friendships like that—and for that, I am grateful.  I’m very blessed to have such beautiful people in my life. The only thing I’m missing is that special person that holds me tight and makes me feel that I am loved and cared for every day. That true connection–that’s what I’m looking for, and I know I will find it. The dating world can seem lonely out there, but then one day it will finally be over. That day when you find the one you’ve been looking for to fill the void. Being vulnerable and daring greatly is the only way to find a true connection. The rest is just a test run.

With Faith, Hope, and Love,

~Teresa

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