"Hey I gained weight and you cut your hair!"
This was the opening line from a first, and last, I had with a guy years ago. We met one rainy afternoon on a MUNI bus in San Francisco and instantly connected over our agreement of the not-so-sunny disposition of the bus driver. We parted ways at Van Ness & Sacramento St, but before I left he popped the question, "Can I get your phone number?" I obliged and he called within two days. He explained that he was heading to his brother's wedding in India and would be there for the next five weeks, but he'd love to meet for drinks once he was back. I shrugged a "sure" into the phone and really didn't give it much thought beyond that.
You see, I wasn't instantly ga-ga over this guy. In fact I hadn't been ga-ga over anyone since I'd ended a relationship four years previously. But I believed I would be if the right person came along. So until then I convinced myself I was having 'fun'. At times it really was, but most of the time it was like eating glazed donut, looks fantastic on the outside, but not much substance beyond the first bite.
I was a bit surprised when five weeks later the guy actually called to set up a date. That Friday evening came around and I was exhausted from the week, but I rallied, ''because you never know..." I got to the bar and was welcomed with his winning line.
It was true I had cut my hair, but at least it looked good. He, on the other hand had gained 30lbs, shaved his head and was wearing tight white jeans. Short story, short, the date ended quickly, more because he began a soliloquy about how great we were going to be together and how much I was going to fall in love with him. My quick exit that evening yielded many unreturned phone calls until I guess he finally got the hint that a 'we' was never going to be.
Pillar #1: Coming Home
I have many more delightful stories where that came from and I bet you do too! It still took me a good four years to realize why this kept happening. I was putting myself out there but not investing within. I was kind of like that glazed donut myself. Building a business took all my time and energy. I wasn't nourishing, honoring or even seeing myself the way that I should have been. I ventured home on a journey to my core.
Coming home means to invest in ourselves. Rather than seeking, we find what and who we inherently are. As this connection builds we begin to create a relationship with our true spirit which is honestly the most important relationship we'll ever have in our entire lives.
A giving, honoring, honest connection with ourselves naturally teaches us who to be in relationship with others. This connection to our higher self helps us build a belief that, no matter what, nothing can support us and no one can love us more than we can of ourselves. When that kind of love is built from within, it glows out into the world. And what does that kind of love attract? Real love.
Pillar #2: Making a List & Checking It Twice
Once I found true love within myself, I realized there was no way I was going to sabotage that. It wasn't worth the betrayal. So I decided to get clear. What did I want in a relationship? I'd never asked myself that before. Before, each penny into the wishing well was a free fall into the abyss. Now that I had myself as my plus-one I had really upped the ante!
We get to decide what we want. This is our life, not someone else's, we get to make the decisions and a relationship is no exception. Whether single or married for 30 years, we can always make “the list”.
Make a list right now of all the characteristics you want in a relationship...not in a person, but a relationship.
Here's a sample of what's on mine:
Get the idea? This list is the one you invisibly carry in your back pocket. Bring it on every date until you're certain that the other person wants the same things. If they do, great! Then there is a foundation for you both to build upon. If not, then say farewell. If they're not sure, buh-bye! You are ready to board this train. Why would you wait around for someone who isn't?
After that, think about all those worthless characteristics you don't want in a relationship..again not the person, but the relationship. You know, the ones that made you run like hell or cry for months.
Again, here's a sample:
-Belching in public....(ok that's not really a characteristic)
Getting the picture? You want to remind yourself of the things you simply will not tolerate in your life. Again, if you've done the self-love work, you're not going to want to betray that gorgeous beauty within anymore. So keep this list handy and if one or more of these characteristics begin to show up on the 3rd date, 3rd month, 3rd year...ask yourself why you are there and be brutally honest with your answers.
If you give permission to these characteristics they will begin to chip away at the relationship you truly want. And worse? It will chip away at something so precious and divine, your shining god-given spirit.
Pillar #3: Look Present-able
Man or woman, do not ever go on a first date without feeling and looking your best. It may seem superficial, but first impressions are important. Be honest, when you went on that blind date and the guy showed up in a stained t-shirt, unshaven, and dirty hair and was preoccupied with work, were you really intrigued and wanting to see him again?
Unless it's Ryan Gosling in that t-shirt, you probably just wanted to leave him a few bucks for some razors and detergent, then find the next cab home. Most of us who are living our potential aren't looking for potential in other people. If that guy or gal shows up fully present, shining from the inside-out, do your absolute best in meeting them eye-to-eye. Remember, you are a gift so why not look the part?
Pillar #4: Be Open to the Package
This may sound contradictory to the previous point but it's not. For example. When I finally began to love me, made my lists, shouted out to the universe, "Yo! Bring it!" I got this mind’s eye picture of a guy who lived north of the GG Bridge, six feet tall and sandy blonde hair. I thought to myself, "hmm." I was open.
When he finally appeared in real life six months later and explained he was just out of divorce and had a 2 year-old daughter, I..was open..When I realized his life at the time was a 3-ring circus...I was still open.
Wondering why I didn't flee in the other direction? Because we both had our lists of good and bad. And when we compared notes, we were a match. I knew we could build a firm foundation which would hold us when things got a little shaky. Plus he was red-hot cute and his t-shirt wasn't even stained!
Pillar #5: Gratitude & Acceptance
Once we arrive at the relationship, it's so important to have gratitude and nourish it. Also, gain the acceptance that there is perfection within the imperfect.
In my relationship which is now reaching the 10-year mark, small frustrations abound. Picking up stray socks or playing the all-knowing swami locating the whereabouts of keys, backpacks, homework, sunglasses and wallets. We love, we get on each others’ nerves and we love some more. It's a good thing communication was on both our lists! But as we sit down at the dinner table with our now, 11 year-old daughter I'm grateful in my heart for the sweet family we've cultivated over the years and the love we hold for each other.
Whether you're single or in a slumping relationship, put these pillars into place. Come to the table with yourself and the other person. See each other clearly, see your wants in relationship clearly, be each other’s gift, practice gratitude and acceptance. And never, ever settle for the guy in tight white jeans....unless of course, that's your thing!
"We are stardust, we are golden and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." -Joni Mitchell