Let's be honest. Most of us have an ongoing list of reasons that WE JUST KNOW, render us utterly undatable, keeping us lonely forever. My list may or may not include items such as:
- Not exactly over my ex.
- I'm a total know it all.
- Violently competitive.
- Inexplicable need to use foul language around children.
If you're like me, you keep the list in your wallet so you can show dates when there's an awkward silence over dinner.
Others take another route, and try to hide these qualities, feeling ashamed or embarrassed of them. This plan often back-fires somewhere around the 4th month of the relationship, in which words like "sister wife," "sleep apnea machine," or "family week at rehab," enter the daily lexicon of the relationship, to your partner's astonishment and probable disappointment.
And then there are those among us who are perfect. They have the annoying habit of noticing red flags in other people, deeming promising matches dating untouchables, for reasons such as "unemployed," "lives with parents," or "owns a snake."
But are red flags really harbingers of potential pitfalls in our relationships? Are they really oracles, tiny Miss Cleo's, predicting the outcome of our partnerships? Or are they just stories we've made up to provide the illusion of certainty over the unknown, and to distract us from the present moment?
I choose door # 2.
Eckhart Tolle, who I'm pretty sure has a banging love life, says this about red flags: “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but our thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.”
So basically, the fact that your new boyfriend has been wearing the same t-shirt for a month, isn't inherently upsetting. What dismays you, is the story that you tell yourself about your guy or about the t-shirt. i.e "He's a total loser and I'm a loser for dating a loser." Believe it or not, the fact that you have $250 in unpaid library fines says nothing about your date-ability. What gets you into trouble is the meaning you ascribe to it, the stories you invent, and the negative value judgment that you believe to be true.
When we buy into these stories we let ourselves drift away from the here and now. Which is too bad...
Because the here and now is amazing.
The present moment, and not a list of "red flags" is where to find honest information about when to end a relationship, when to proceed with caution, or when to put a ring on it.
Practicing presence means getting quiet, tuning into your body, and listening for the information that the moment has to offer. It is more vital and relevant than any story manufactured by your ego and it cultivates an attitude of acceptance of yourself and others.
The only thing that's wrong with you are the thoughts you have about what's wrong with you!
The great Kelly Clarkson challenges us to accept ourselves and each other with a rhetorical lyric from her song Dark Side: "Everybody's got a dark side. Do you love me? Can you love mine?"
Obvious Clarkson fan Eckart Tolle, agrees! "Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life."
So, love your dark side, love your red flags, love the fact that you yell at the tv screen, and that your credit score is in the single digits. Love the fact that you never make your bed, and that the thought of marriage makes you vomit involuntarily.
Doing this makes it easier to accept and even love the foibles in our partners, which in turn proves the title of this blog post completely right, and will keep you together until the end of time.
Lonely Forever? No way!