“Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke.” -Lynda Barry

Relationships are work. Love is work. Sometimes it blows up in your face! Dating is gambling. You are gambling when you give your love away to every guy you date. I made that mistake for years. I thought if I emptied all I had to give on every man I dated maybe he would recognize the wonder of me and we would be perfect. What cinderella world had I been raised in?

I can’t believe that in this advanced age of exposure on media that young women still have a silly dream of a man she can change, and a young man who thinks she won’t change. Going in with no expectations at all other than friendship and getting to know the person should be the only plan of dating. If you begin developing feelings, talk about it. If he is in it for sex, and nothing more, the talk of feelings will speed him on his way and clear your path to a better man. Women still confuse love with sex, and men still do not.

Shred that list of what you want in a man ladies because it is ridiculous. A man is not a grocery store. Nobody is perfect! It took me ten years of blind dating and two divorces to wake up to the fact that love is what should come after. After friendship, after respect, after you have developed some trust and really know a person for a while. After he has seen you without makeup and crying over a sad movie. After he has seen you throw a tantrum in public. After he has seen how you drive, can’t parallel park, and order your food in drive-thru –in an annoying way. After you have called him at 2 am to come over and kill a wasp in your house and he does it. After you have met his friends, he has met yours, and you survive the teasing. After he has attended a family function with you and he calls you the next day anyway. After you have experienced holidays together and apart and still he calls. After you send him to the store with a feminine product on the list and he gets it. After the first time you vacation together after a long drive and little sleep. These are the things that test the honeymoon type of love in a new relationship. Lists don’t prevent love disasters or guarantee a perfect partner.

Women don’t really seem to feel they have value unless they have a man. It seems some credit all they are and who they should be to that man.  I have heard women say, “If I don’t give in and have sex with him by the third date, he won’t ask me out again.” Okay, then take yourself out. He is looking for a woman to conquer, not to keep.  There is no timeline on sex and love. If he puts a time line on it, remove the watch. You are way more valuable than the man who measures your love by the sexcapades you offer.

Sometimes love is just what you fill holes with in your life. There is not enough love to fill most holes in your life. This discussion brings to mind the following poem by Margaret Atwood.

‘Love’
“This is a word we use to plug holes with.
It’s the right size for those warm blanks in speech,
for those red heart- shaped vacancies on the page
that look nothing like real hearts.
Add lace and you can sell it.
We insert it also in the one empty space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions.
There are whole magazines with noth much in them but the word love,
you can rub it all over your body and you can cook with it too…

When we have a crappy job, or little self respect, love can fill that life hole for a while. When the love drifts away, we feel empty. The secret is to patch the holes in your life before you create a relationship that may or may not work.  Relationships don’t fix other complications of your life, it adds to them.

How do I do that? You find your way through like every other human being, with the help of other human beings. People in your family, friends, religion, meditation, or giving to others to climb out of your inner space. It takes energy and effort to fight off the demons of loneliness. I learned I sure as heck couldn’t fight those demons by sitting in my room with a television and a bag of chips. That only adds to the loneliness and depression. Taking advantage of those close friends and family by talking, living, and being, can help. I leaned on God heavily in my darkest times. When I felt unloved and negative about my life, I leaned on God, read the bible, and listened in church. Slowly, eventually, it sank in that I was already good with God. I didn’t need a man to be loved or accepted. I had God, I had family, I had the ability to rise above self-made circumstances and climb out of my head to help others. Actively seeking a passion outside of sex and love was fulfilling to me and helped me to patch the holes in my life.

After patching those holes, I drew new people into my life that supported my goals and did not require my surrender of all that I am in order to be loved. I found love, real love…after.

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