Introvert Stops Searching for "The One" and Gets a Life: Being Your Own Amazing Soulmate

 

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What would you do if you knew you were going to be alone for the rest of your life?

This is the question Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant journal, posed to his readers. He answered it with something to the effect of (I can’t find the darn article, sorry), You would create an amazing career, read your favorite books, build an incredible tribe of friends, see some great films, travel if you’d like…

He asked us to think of the worst(?) case scenario and then work with it. It got my mind buzzing.

Then… author, Elizabeth Gilbert, posted her piece, Learn to Be Lonelyand I felt the Universe was talking to me.

Elizabeth Gilbert - Eat Pray Love author and personal hero

Elizabeth Gilbert – Eat Pray Love author and personal hero

I am going to treat myself like I am my own amazing boyfriend. I’m going to be SO GOOD to me. I’m going to take me to the most beautiful places in the world. I’m going to say the most comforting words to myself. I’m going to feed me wonderful meals, and buy me wonderful books.

— Elizabeth Gilbert, Learn To Be Lonely

Life first, then boyfriend?

While sitting on the plane headed toward my parents’ home in Tennessee, coincidentally for Independence weekend, I made the decision to put myself on a dating moratorium. I’d been spinning my wheels for the last few months anyway. I’d either meet the nicest, most kind and hopeful men and not feel the chemistry I crave or I’d take interest in someone only to have them come on strong and then fade away without explanation.

I can be a better boyfriend than that.

Ideally, I want a loving partner to cherish, deep amazing relationships with my kids and a meaningful writing career. It seems I can only have two out of three. I’ve yet to score the trifecta. So maybe I’m meant to be a dedicated mother focused on her writing career.The romantic partner thing is for later. My dad seems to think so. While visiting with him, he imparted these words of wisdom, “You’ve got to have a life first Bren before you bring someone else into the mix.”

Ok. I agree. I’ve learned you have to be a whole person before you can join a partner in a relationship. Looking for someone to complete you is asking for trouble.

A reader recently asked me to write a post about why a person should love himself.

If you love yourself first, you know who you are. Your self-awareness gives you something to offer the world. By being genuine you attract meaningful work and people on the same page as you. A person should love himself so that he doesn’t need someone to fulfill him. Needing leads to searching and settling for someone to fill a void rather than someone to expand who you already are. I wrote about this here.

That explains the why part of loving yourself first, the rest of this post will explain the how.

A few rules

I started by devising a few guidelines for abstaining from dating.

Original dating moratorium rules:

3 months no dating. Period. Remain celibate, no kissing, no romantic leanings. Elizabeth Gilbert recommends at least 6 months but I know myself. That would be setting me up for failure. I like the company of men too much. I need to start small, so it’s doable.

Counting Crows' Adam Duritz

Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz

Then I remembered that I already had plans to go see Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket with a male friend (admittedly someone I used to date) in a few weeks. I asked him to go because I really wanted to see the bands and he’s a big music lover. He’s also a great guy whose integrity and blue eyes I enjoy. We’ve been friends for a while. Hmmm.

Amended dating moratorium rules:

3 months no serious dating. Can see a particular man no more than once a month. Remain celibate, no romantic leanings.

Then a new male friend of mine asked me over for dinner. We are just beginning to develop our friendship and that requires spending time together. We are strictly platonic at this point. He is one of the most sweet and sincere people I know and he wants to cook me an incredible meal. I love kind people and I love food/cooking.

Amended, amended dating moratorium rules:

3 Months no serious dating. Can see a particular man more than once a month. Remain celibate, no romantic leanings.

How to be alone and excited to get up in the morning

Rules in place, I then set out to create a life that wasn’t all about “finding someone” but still gave me something to look forward to, something to get excited about.

I cancel my Match.com account. Unfortunately, it had automatically renewed itself the night before I pulled the plug (strange coincidence requiring an extra level of commitment to my new single plan since it meant $65 down the drain) so technically I still have an account but it won’t automatically renew again.

I order books I’ve always wanted to read: The Alchemist, Love in the Time of Cholera and Anthony Bourdain’s,

Anthony Bourdain - Yummy

Anthony Bourdain – Yummy

Kitchen ConfidentialI imagine nights at home alone, when the kids are with their dad, reading and getting lost in the stories. My mind and imagination fired up by the new ideas and images. Each book offering inspiration for future writing.

I continue to grow my writing network by collaborating with more bloggers and entrepreneurs. Requests for my input and participation in writing projects keep rolling in. I dig deeper into the relationships and the exposure. My career and my tribe expand. I consider a world tour visiting all of my writing connections.

I think ahead to the holidays. I don’t have the kids for Thanksgiving this year. I always have the week after Christmas to myself. Where can I go? I had such a wonderful time with family over the 4th of July I would love to see them all again. Perhaps another trip to Tennessee. My stepmom wants to go to Memphis. My mom hasn’t visited Minnesota in a while. Perhaps she comes out over Christmas.

I receive information about a retreat in England next May for introverts. I love England. It looks breathtaking and perfect. Can I swing a 10 day getaway?

I look into a new fitness plan. In 2005 I started working with a personal trainer and it changed my life. I’m always looking for a new fun way to stay healthy. I check out my health club’s class schedule and find a perfect sculpting and restorative yoga class. I search for adult dance classes in the area and find a drop-in ballet class in the city. The novelty and potential to meet new people get me excited about getting fit.

I use volunteermatch.org to find volunteer positions near me that align with my interests. I know I can always help someone else out. If I need interaction and purpose beyond my everyday routines I know volunteering is an option.

I think about all my girlfriends and how I can spend time with them. We can go out to dinner, see movies, travel, go for walks, attend live music performances, help each other with household projects.

I realize my children have grown up and become delightful companions. They are still children but we engage in stimulating conversation and they serve as good co-pilots when we travel. I enjoy their company immensely.

This is how I love myself

All of the above ideas and activities are how I love myself. I give myself time and exposure to all of the extraordinary opportunities and companions listed. They fill me up, make me interesting and allow me to share love with others. I’m happy. Since I’m already full I don’t NEED a romantic partner but I know I ultimately want to share a lovely life with someone. I truly enjoy men, and when it comes down to it, they are part of my tribe. I have faith I will someday encounter my “soulmate” but until then I’m not searching for love, I’m leading a life.

Are you searching for someone to make you happy? What makes you feel alive besides an intimate relationship?  

If you enjoyed this post you may also love:

Are You Someone’s Priority? Do You Need to Be?

Introvert Relationships: Are Our Expectations for Love Unobtainable?

Is It Love or Are You Just Filling a Void?: Mastering Aloneness and Creating a Real Relationship

*This post dedicated to reader Hopeful

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19 Comments

  1. Introvert Relationships and Sensation Seeking: Being Your Own Amazing Soulmate Update | space2live
    September 5, 2014

    […] July I wrote a post titled, Introvert Stops Searching for ‘The One’ and Gets a Life: Being Your Own Amazing Soulmate. In it, I described my intention to stop dating for three months and focus on experiencing […]

    Reply
  2. Harmony
    July 27, 2014

    This article is spot on !

    For years, I wondered why I didn’t have any boyfriend. All my friends were hooking up, getting married, having their first child. One day, I simply stopped worrying and decided that I will be very happy even if I spend the rest of my life alone. I started to treat myself and a few months later, someone show up. I had my very first boyfriend at the age of 29.
    The relationship didn’t work out at all but I had to go through that rough patch to get to know myself better and figure out what I want out of a relationship.
    I am back at that place when I treat myself every so often. Hopefully I will meet someone who’s right for me 🙂

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      July 27, 2014

      I think it’s all about treating yourself to amazing experiences. That way you are happy with or without someone else. When you do meet someone wonderful it’s about sharing experiences with them rather than looking to them to provide your happiness. Thanks for your comment. I hope you indulge in grand experiences.:)

      Reply
  3. How Do You Intend to Live Your One Precious Life? How Would You Live If Your Health Was Challenged? | space2live
    July 25, 2014

    […] ← Introvert Stops Searching for “The One” and Gets a Life: Being Your Own Amazing S… […]

    Reply
  4. November
    July 23, 2014

    I woke up this morning feeling down/depressed and decided to come here for a pick-me-up. And again, you wrote “just for me”. 🙂 I absolutely KNOW that I need to love myself before anything else can happen in life, but I’m not very optimistic about learning to love myself–I can’t recall a time in my 34 years when I DID love myself. However, I miss attention, affection, knowing someone cares extra much about me. I’ve been without these things for a few years, even in my marriage; I try to remind myself that even my husband (and mom, for that matter–who I have distanced myself from, btw) couldn’t even provide those basics. I could REALLY use a hug (or 50). My girlfriends aren’t huggers and I have no family nearby, so I’m at a loss. I browse the dating websites every once in a while, but no one seems interesting…..everyone’s the same (i.e. not my type, and I know I’m also “not their type”). Plus, I automatically dismiss those who can’t write in proper English, which REALLY narrows down my options……but that’s a dealbreaker…..I know that if someone can’t keep up with my mind, it’s not going to work and I’m not even going to try. (I’m also not ready to put up my own profile because–even though my husband has had a girlfriend for the past 6 months–I don’t feel right doing that while still being married.)

    It’s interesting to note that I felt amazing for the past 3 days because I did some hard, physical labor on my house–I’m a workaholic and value myself only through my work and the accomplishments I can show. Yesterday I rested, I did no work. I sat, I swam, I thought. And (with a couple other factors) that’s when the loneliness set in. Most days, it’s calming for me to be alone, I feel it’s a necessity to spend most of my non-work-time by myself. (That’s one reason my marriage failed and one of the many reasons why I will never get married again…..trial and error.) I need to point my energy elsewhere–at my house/work. I am fully aware that relationships continually let me down, but my accomplishments won’t. And I plan to get a pet soon–pets have never let me down, not like humans.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      July 26, 2014

      It sounds like you find fulfillment in your labor/work. A sense of accomplishment is important to you. That’s great you know that. Also, I think a pet will add meaning and an outlet for love to your life. Do those things that fill you up. “Don’t wait for anyone else to make you happy”, this is advice a good friend gave me.
      I hear what you’re saying about the dating websites. I do a lot of weeding out before I agree to meet with someone. I, too, am a grammar freak.;) I have been both underwhelmed and ecstatic over some of the men I have met. I have actually made a few really meaningful friendships, which has been a delicious bonus. I alternate between dating fatigue and dating energy boosts, but mostly I make sure I don’t put all of my happiness eggs in the dating basket. I know how to have a good time without a partner.
      Best of luck moving along your self-love/awareness path. Take your time. Follow your energy.:)

      Reply
  5. David Wagenfeld
    July 20, 2014

    Brenda,
    Thank you for this post especially the part about why you should love yourself. It has been a real struggle of mine to do that and what you said really helps. I truly admire your honesty and openness because when I see you do it, it gives me confidence that I can to. 🙂

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      July 21, 2014

      I’m glad my writing is of use to you.:) We get clarity and make better choices when we know and love ourselves. We also are more aware of where we shine and what we have to give. Take care of yourself David. Enjoy your days and you’ll be an asset to others.:)

      Reply
  6. Lisa A
    July 19, 2014

    Hi Brenda,

    I loved this post! Going to share it on SI. You know I’m single with no kids (my dog is my kid!) and I kind of had/have the opposite going on. I got too good at being my own best girlfriend. I never really “got” dating. For me the concept of trying someone out and endless coffee dates sounded too much like work! But, as I’ve evolved as an introvert and a spiritual being, funnily enough I’ve been feeling a strong pull to let the universe know I exist (as in avail for a relationship). It’s even more strange as so much is going on in my life right now. I’m surprised I feel the pull to add more to the mix. But I’m going with my intuition.

    The last time I was with someone it was I think was over 2.5 years ago (and that relationship was not physical~the last physical relationship I’ve had was further back in history). Something happened over last weekend and I blame it on the “super moon” and seeing Nick Cave (on my own) the night before. So, I signed up for OK Cupid as I heard they had some kind of myers briggs component to it that sounded “safe”. And now I’m corresponding with a very interesting person. Honestly someone I never imagined I would connect with on a dating site.

    I’m trying to view this as “divine friendship” no matter what. My mind has gone into that sketch territory of “wow, this person sounds so cool et et et”. But when I catch myself going there I try to snap myself out of it. It’s hard, we’re human. But I did a 40 minute meditation this morning in hopes of solidifying my ability to stay present within this.

    I feel that there is such a strong pull to connect in our society because we don’t love and know ourselves enough, so we look for a mirror to reflect back the love we innately are. And often when we don’t love ourselves we get blinded to all the “divine love” that just exists around us.

    If we can go into any relationship not “needing” any component of it it can be purely loving however it unfolds. But to get to that place takes self inventory, usually a lot of it. I’ve often wondered how people go from person to person and constantly dating. To me it just looks like a big avoidance dance. The real work needs to happen within before we can take it “out” and involve others.

    So, I’m testing the waters (she’s says with a hint of hesitation!). But I am proud of myself that I am. For me its a big step.

    Thanks for this and for mentioning the retreat tour! More info and sign ups will be on the site next month. Very excited!!!

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      July 19, 2014

      You go beautiful woman! It sounds like you are in the right place in your life to be open to a relationship. You have worked on being a ‘whole’ person and now it’s time to share the riches you have discovered. OK Cupid is an awesome place to start. I’ve used it myself and met a couple of worthwhile men.
      I spent a good amount of time ‘out of love’ in my marriage so when that ended I wanted to take my new self out for a spin and see if I could find a loving fulfilling relationship. I was looking for that mirror to reflect back the love I always had inside me. I’m backtracking now. I’m still hanging out with men but trying to keep it low key while I work toward fulfilling myself. I have so many things I want to do. I don’t NEED a man to be content but I know eventually I’m going to want to share experiences and love in the healthiest way with an extraordinary partner. I’m going to want to be extraordinary for someone else too.
      Best wishes regarding your new openness to a relationship. Enjoy yourself no matter what. Do what feeds you.:) Thanks for sharing Lisa. I’m excited to hear more about the retreat. Hoping to participate.:)

      Reply
  7. Jamie Fellrath
    July 19, 2014

    Great post! There’s a lot to the idea of being comfortable in your own skin before inviting someone else into your life. One of the best feelings of my life was a day when I threw out the necessity of having someone else in my life and just enjoyed being me, myself, and I. The liberation there was incredibly freeing.

    You’re lucky to have parents who agree with you on that and support you. I remember during this period telling my mom the revelation I’d come to about being happy single, and she got seriously upset.

    And, ironically, once I stopped actively looking for a companion, it wasn’t long before one was just about dropped into my lap by the universe. So don’t be surprised where this may lead. It doesn’t HAVE to, but it can if you want!

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      July 19, 2014

      Thanks for sharing your story Jamie.:) It is liberating to meet someone and not have to have it turn into a relationship. Do I prefer companionship? Yes, but I can still make this life an exciting existence. I am not sure my mom can fully grasp being content and fulfilled on your own but in the end she just wants me to be happy. Our moms’ generation doesn’t have a good paradigm reference for blissful singlehood.;)

      Reply
  8. sheketechad
    July 18, 2014

    Six months? Try almost five years. And, after the numb wore off from the death of my spouse, I really still wasn’t interested in dating. My family was. My friends were. So, I tried dating. Uh, things have changed.
    What I miss most is conversation, a touch on the arm, or someone to laugh at a movie with. (and yeah, that other stuff I try not to think about…lol!)

    But I have grown more as a person in this time frame, than I ever expected. In March, when I went on my primitive camping trip alone, I actually sat down and envisioned being alone, always. Came home, and started investing time and energy in my dreams, my friends, my children.

    I still miss companionship, but I am okay. If a future partnership is meant to be, it will happen, at the proper time. Right now, I simply spend time becoming the partner I’d like to be with. Maybe the other half of that potential partnership is out running around, doing the same 🙂

    Beautiful post Bren. Until one is happy alone, we cannot be a good partner I don’t think. We are not whole yet. I think (hope?) that whole people attract other whole people 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear what you think of the books!

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      July 18, 2014

      5 years?? Wow, woman! I know you have dated some but I also know you are fine on your own. I am too but I miss having a partner to share the highlights and lowlights of the day. I like to make plans and decisions with a companion. I like to run things by someone else. I have always been good at entertaining myself but there is pleasure in sharing pleasure.;)
      I think your primitive camping trip brought out the same mentality I am in now. I may never have a full time partner again. How am I going to make this an amazing life anyway?
      I am betting on (hoping?) whole people finding other whole people. I think there are fewer whole people and they’re so busy leading full lives that it takes longer.
      I can’t wait to read my new books! I’ll keep you posted on my feelings about them.:)

      Reply
      • sheketechad
        July 18, 2014

        Shall we couch it in…I prefer quality over quantity 🙂 I too, miss a partner. But both my strengths, and my past, make the blending of lives a bit more difficult perhaps, than for others. And truthfully, my age.

        Life in and of itself is amazing, when you stop and think about it.

        You’ll be fine. Beauty is everywhere, contentment is everywhere. We simply have to re-frame it, outside of our cultural inheritance. That takes practice, and a lot of backbone. Steel under velvet, as my friends like to credit me with. I think they are often too generous.

        I’m currently reading so many books, the comment section might not aallow for the list 😉

        Be the best you, possible. That is really all that it takes. You are well on your way, m’dear.

        Reply
  9. vincenzofrancesco
    July 18, 2014

    “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.”– Bell Hooks

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      July 18, 2014

      I had that quote posted on the space2live facebook page last week, I think. I don’t want to use another and I certainly don’t want to be used for entertainment myself. Filling yourself up with love until it spills onto others is the way to go.:-)

      Reply
  10. charlestolman
    July 18, 2014

    Hi Brenda,
    A really important post this one. It is something I have been struggling with for a number of years now, holding myself off dating until I have ‘sorted’ loving myself out. The awfulness of my past relationship decisions is what prompted looking at whether I do actually love myself and realising that I did not.

    The only caveat is that – like your dear self – I very much (almost wrote ‘desperately’) want to share great experiences with a close other. I think the whole physical side of things takes on a new meaning when you try and help someone else towards pleasure, rather than doing solo pleasuring. I think this is the only place where I would say ‘it takes 2 to tango’ (yeah I love tango!) which is better than just being on your own.

    But I totally agree that we need to be properly focussed on our own self-love, otherwise we cannot truly love others. As ever, balance is the thing.

    Thanks again for a wonderful post.
    Charles

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      July 18, 2014

      I agree Charles. Once you have loved yourself into a quality wholeness it is the most wonderful thing to share pleasure with another. They are not your only source of happiness but they can enhance your experience and you, theirs. It does take two to do some things, especially the tango.;)

      Reply
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