August McLaughlin shares hard-earned wisdom from her own dating, marriage, and divorce experience on how your post-breakup attitude can help you find the right partner.
Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to introduce August McLaughlin as our new weekly relationships advice columnist. August is here to answer questions and offer guidance on the tough challenges we face in our intimate relationships. Readers can submit questions to [email protected]. Not all questions will be published. The opinions expressed in this column do not constitute professional advice. The Good Men Project assumes no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any actions taken by, or reactions that ensue from, anyone following the recommendations in the answers.
A few years ago I went through a nasty breakup. (It was for the best, but I couldn’t see it at the time.) Since then, I’ve tried every dating service, website and app there is, with no luck. The process feels forced, somehow—which would be okay, if we ended up finding the one in each other, but, like I said … I just haven’t met the right person.
I have a stable job, good friends and take care of myself, eating right and exercising. I’m no Brad Pitt, but I’m not shabby-looking either. So it’s not like I’m a horrible catch. Sharing life with someone I’m in love with, and vice versa, is more important to me than just about anything, and I feel like my life is fizzling away. (Wow, that sounded melodramatic, but honestly, some days that’s how I feel.) I’m not depressed, per say, but I’m not living the full life I know I would with the right person. Any tips for meeting her?
From my first date during early high school until a rebound relationship following my divorce in my mid-twenties, I was serially partnered. As soon as a relationship would end, I leapt full-force into another, consistently believing (well, convincing myself), that the next guy was the one.
Everything changed when I, while still married to my ex, joined an acting class, finding what would remain my passion for a decade. More than a career, acting instilled a sense of purpose. That purpose shed light on what I’d known on some level all along: Every Mr. Wrong-For-Me I’d paired with had been a reflection and derivative of my relationship with myself. It also brought a form of companionship, an entity I never felt without. Prior to acting, I’d been terrified of being alone. With it, I found solace.
As I grew in my passion, which helped me through divorce and out of the harmful rebound, my whole life began making sense. After an empowered time of single-hood, when I wasn’t even looking, I literally showed up at Mr. Right’s door.
You may have guessed where this is going.
I’m not suggesting that there’s anything wrong with you. On the contrary, you probably have a lot more going for you than you mentioned. The mere desire for love and passion speaks of your capacity for both, which life will furnish if you trust it, expanding passionately within it throughout.
What the heck does that mean? Fabulous question. Seek ways to live with more passion over all. No, you don’t need to quit your day job—though, by all means, if passion leads you elsewhere, please do. Passion can show up in your meals, in your hobbies, in volunteerism.
What excites you? What skills of yours do others marvel at? When do you feel most alive? What would you do if you weren’t afraid or didn’t care what others might think? What that you do with or for others makes your heart sing, even a little?
To those whispers in your gut right now, listen. No passion is meaningless or too small.
And those butterflies? Embrace them. When I first learned that this column was a possibility, the winged buggers filled my torso—which is precisely why I thought, Hell, yes! Living passionately is a mindset, an attitude that shapes our lives and behaviors.
Ask yourself every day what you can do to live more passionately, or you could end up meeting Ms. Right, only to have little but your loving vibes to share with her. That’s not to say that love isn’t valuable; it’s everything. But filling your life with love is the first gift you can give her. It’s also the very thing that will likely draw her in.
Lastly, and this may be the toughest part, don’t end your daily question with “… so I can meet her.” (There’s a reason diets fail; if we focus on what we’re missing or dislike, those negatives take over.) Get so busy tilling joy and fulfillment that any romance that evolves is a bonus—one that may very well take precedence over time. Even then, your needs should come first, just as hers should to her. Two halves don’t make one whole couple, two wholes do.
Cheering for you big time,