Looking for Love and Friendship
Once upon a time I was looking for love, and I literally bumped into it.
Well, actually, first I went to Sunday school. I had been hired to sing at a large church, having met the pastor several months before at a conference where I provided the music. Since I had never been to this church, I arrived early on the Sunday morning to work with the sound system and make sure the technician had my accompaniment tapes ready to go.
That taken care of, I had about an hour to wait before the main service. The technician casually mentioned a Sunday school class for college-age people that was meeting just down the hall.
Just a way to pass the time
To be honest, my first inclination was not to go. I didn't feel like walking into a room of 30 or so people, none of whom I knew, that I would have to interact with. (Not at all like walking into a room of several hundred strangers I would sing to.) But it was February, and raining, and the prospect of waiting in my car was not attractive. So I steeled myself and went to the class.
There was (of course) only one empty chair.
As I sat, I couldn't help noticing the attractive young man on my right. Sandy-haired, blue-eyed, smiling. We introduced ourselves, and as we chatted discovered that we were both in the credential program at California State University Sacramento – he in the English department and I in elementary education. Our classwork and student teaching were very different, and we would never have met at Sac State. But here we were next to each other in Sunday school, 50 miles away.
This guy was interesting to talk to, and as the class continued it became clear that we shared a background of studying and discussing the Bible.
I left a bit early to get ready for the service. During my performance, I unknowingly sang one of my new acquaintance's favorite songs. After church, he came to the front with his parents and identical twin brother so they could meet me too. It was all very pleasant, and then we went our separate ways.
The next day at about noon, I was leaving the university campus to go to my 4th graders, and he was coming onto campus after working with his high school literature students. I was taking a short cut through the six-floor library (one of the largest in the CSU system) – he was taking the same short cut. And we literally bumped into each other in the entrance.
Thrown together, you might say.
Maybe you've guessed that the man I met in Sunday school is my husband, Jon. All of this happened 41 years ago this month, and we still feel that God brought us together.
Meeting face to face
Maybe you're looking for love, or even just some friends. As we get older, we often lose touch with old friends and find it harder to make new ones.
The first thing we need to do is to be available. I almost didn't go to that Sunday school class because I felt shy about having to meet people. Whether you're an introvert or a loner or whatever, meeting people is basic to finding love. Even extraverts need to think about how to put themselves out there. You meet different people in a bar than you do at church, a political gathering, a yoga class, or a community organization you volunteer for. And now with so many events happening only online, you have to work a bit harder to meet people in real life.
5 steps to be prepared
You can put yourself out there, but you don't know who you'll meet or how long it will take. It's uncertain and uncontrollable, and if you imagine a perfect soulmate will just show up one day, you'll not only be disappointed when it doesn't happen, but you'll be unprepared when someone important does appear.
1. Accept uncertainty.
There are no guarantees, and honestly, wouldn't life be boring if everything was planned out ahead of time? Whether you find someone to love is unknown, and whether the person you just met is right for you is unknown. So accept uncertainty, and practice with it.
How do you practice? These suggestions come from Leo Babauta at zenhabits.net:
- Make small talk with strangers every day.
- Don't always shop at the same stores or go to the same old restaurants.
- Take a day trip to a nearby city with no set plans, and follow what looks interesting.
You'll get better at uncertainty when you don't let yourself settle into all the ruts.
2. Relax your ideals.
I knew someone in college who had an "ideal man" list with all of her desired characteristics – looks, interests, fitness level, career goals, etc. Good luck with that. You're just making it harder to find someone who not only has all those characteristics, but who you also like and who likes you.
Maybe there is one thing that's a deal-breaker. For example, I wouldn't have dated an atheist. That's me. For you, there might be some other area that you're sure you'd want to have in common with the person who becomes very close to you. But otherwise, it's better to be open to what emerges. Be curious instead of certain.
When we're kids, our parents try to meet our needs for love, comfort, support, validation, etc. Of course they want to give us everything. But as we get closer to adulthood, we look for someone else to meet those emotional needs. The reasons most of us don't marry our first boyfriend or girlfriend is because neither of us knows how to be happy and secure within ourselves, and we're expecting the other person to fix that.
Sometimes even adults rely on friends to explain their feelings, handle their problems, and help them deal with other relationships.
Instead of needing someone else to prop you up, you need to learn about yourself and your inner strengths and resources. Then your relationships can develop from a place of wholeness and balance.
4. Get health and finances in order.
This is about being your best self, whatever that means for you. If necessary, start stretching and walking (or lifting and running, if you can). Give up soda and junk food and eat more veggies. Pay off your debts and start saving (and then investing). Be someone who's ready to move forward in life, with fewer things to hold you back.
That said, Jon and I started out with basically nothing. Our salaries were small, and we had no savings. However, we had both managed to put ourselves through college and grad school with only about $3,000 debt between us. Our car was old, but paid for. We knew how to budget. And we were in excellent health and knew we didn't need to get drunk or high to have fun.
5. Do interesting things.
This could include travel, learning languages, or mastering a sport or performance skill. It could mean making and building things, starting a business, or being a remarkable volunteer. Do things that are different than most. Take the challenge. You'll become a more interesting person, but you'll also have fun, learn to deal with uncertainty, become more self-reliant, and have a few good stories to tell your future mate or friends.
Now you're ready.
If you do most of the things on this list, you'll be prepared when you bump into love or your new best friend. And if you're not in a relationship this Valentine's Day, you can be getting ready for that buddy or significant other to appear.