Today, I rose unusually early for a Saturday to join my friend K and support my friend, Mr. Hitch at a dating conference in NYC. The idea behind the 8-hour multi-talks day was to teach women how to find their dream bachelor and to correct how they are going about it the wrong way.
Maybe it’s because I’m fresh out of a relationship or perhaps it’s due to the last year of writing this blog, but something about the sessions rubbed me the wrong way.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I found everything I heard very interesting and I admired all of the stories from the dating experts. In fact, they really did remind me of myself: they woke up one day, realized how they were obsessing about love and went out to fix it by first fixing themselves. It makes total sense to me and though we may have all went about improving our lives and learning to love ourselves first and foremost, I truly believe that to find love, you first have to define yourself by love. And that often means coming to terms with that negatively bitter sourpuss attitude that most of us have toward dating once we’ve been in the race for a while. It also means realizing that while you’re not perfect, you do deserve more than just scraps a man throws at you, even if because he’s simply a man (and that seems so hard to find!), you think you have to put together those pieces to create a prince. The more we do that, the more we keep creating frogs.
While sitting at the conference, taking notes in case I wanted to write something for work, I looked around the room. There were women of all ages, shapes and sizes, life stages, races and styles. There was hardly any whispering, all were listening contently and many were scribbling down things to remember, even though they didn’t have an assignment like I did. Many asked thoughtful questions and inhaled the answer as if it was the solution to all their problems. Everyone who came lived in some portion of New York, was single and paid $50 to learn how not to be anymore.
And really, it made me kind of sad.
I couldn’t help but wonder — where is the male version of this seminar? Do guys do all that they can to meet the right girl? Do they come up with strategies and gameplans to be in the best position of the bar, to go to lectures because there is a higher caliber of women in such places? Do men obsess about the hidden meaning between cryptic text messages? Are they told to purposefully wear red because it attracts the opposite sex’s attention? Do experts tell them to make sure they are groomed and polished, put together and showing just enough to be just enough sexy, but not too much? Are they encouraged to take a year to really find themselves, to go out and be alone and learn to be single so they will be more confident and comfortable? Are they told to have nice, light conversation and to reach for the check, but don’t actually pay it on the second date because the gal will notice?
The advice really isn’t bad advice, in fact, it’s pretty accurate. Wearing red will make you stand out in a pool of New Yorkers who have an oddly natural affinity to black. Being casual instead of super serious and confrontational will win you more dates. Going out at 7 p.m. instead of 1 a.m. will open up a whole new group of men that maybe aren’t just out for someone to share a cab back to their place with at the end of the night. Attending concerts and visiting museums will host more men who are more concerned with things other than football and pounding Bud Lights. A simple smile across the room while maintaining eye contact will lure dudes in your general direction.
These are all very smart and strategic words of wisdom — but as I listened and considered what I was learning, a part of me wanted to stand up and say: Get out of this conference room and go out there and just start talking to people! Go and figure out what makes you happy, go find your joy. Put yourself out of your own comfort zone and try things that you have been afraid to do. Go on a date with someone just for the sake of going on a date, not to find the most idealistic mate. Have great hygiene just because you should, not because someone else will care. Wear something that makes you feel sexy and confident, regardless of what color it is or how tightly it hugs your curves. Talk about what you want to talk about because it interests you and don’t be bothered if some guy you just met disagrees with you.
Sometimes, I think we just think about it all too much. And Lord knows I’m a walking hypocrite as I type this, because the whole web and my circle of friends knows I’ve written a year’s worth of blogs analyzing everything from sex positions to deeply profound and personal questions of love. Sure, I’ve thought it to death — and you know what?
I’m exhausted of it.
Now that Mr. P has proven impossible and I’m out on my own, rediscovering the city I love so much while working incredibly hard to be successful at a career I love, I don’t find myself looking for love or longing for a partner. Instead, I find myself just trying to live. Just trying to experience all that I can and be the best me that I can possibly be. Instead of searching for possibilities in the form of tall, dark and handsome, I’m exploring all the possibilities inside of me that I’ve put off because I’ve been far too concerned with finding love.
One speaker said that if we put as much energy into looking for a mate as we put in our careers, we’d all find love. That if we get laid off, we send out our resumes everywhere, we actively search and we ultimately find a position. Sure, that’s true — having a job means being able to survive, so we all are diligent in our applications. Call me old-fashioned and a little too convinced that fate has a plan for everything, but it shouldn’t be like that.
It’s not about going to all the right places or saying the right things or looking the right way. It’s not about having a calculated angle that’ll make you more enticing. It’s really just about living your life, loving the life you lead, and being open to love. If your heart is open and your mind is too, you’ll give off a confidence that’s not only attractive, but genuine. You will find yourself being pulled to people who are satisfied with their lives and their choices too, because what you put into the universe, you get back. What you think about yourself, others will think about you.
And if you approach dating by being loving and liberated, then you’ll soon find yourself loving the liberty that a true match, the right person gives you: the freedom to be yourself, whatever color you wear, whenever you decide to go out and whatever you decide to feel. You can’t create love because you’re doing all the right things to find someone. You can only find love if you’re doing all the things that feel right to you.
But if I did have one piece of advice that I really agreed with — it’s taking a year to really figure yourself out. I can’t explain how much it’s taught me about love and relationships, but most importantly, about myself.