“Love is not an emotion; it is a drive.”
– Helen Fisher
I’m looking for LOVE. Let me make that clear at the outset; love is a drive. We are driven to seek the company of others, intimacy with them, even perhaps the (temporary) bond of sex. Being the social creatures we are means that we cannot be healthy without these connections, and there are plenty of studies that illustrate that fact.
But love is something else, too; it is the tang and the sweetness of life, it is the heat in which we burn, it is desire at its most fundamental. And forgive me for saying this, but I really could use some of it right about now.
In fact, I’m just about howling for it.
Being a Lone Wolf isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And for the last ten years or so, I’ve had so many other things to deal with — really important things that could not be ignored — that howling for the pack hasn’t been exactly in the cards for me. In fact, a year ago I would have tucked my tail between my legs and headed for the nearest mountaintop if someone suggested I think about finding love.
But lately there’s a change. I find myself drawn more and more to the idea of, if not a full-blown relationship, a dedicated and based-on-realism-and-not-pie-in-the-sky sort of friendship. I used to have one or two in my life but things changed and they moved on without me in the picture. Friendship is a great thing, as I recall. It comes with its doses of love and crazy stuff. It can be just as much of a pain in the butt as it is fulfilling and uplifting. And it’s been a long time since I’ve had either the butt-pain or the uplift of having a ‘best’ friend.
But I am patient in this regard. The gift of a new ‘bestie’ is a wonderful thought, but it’s not a thing one can word toward. You can’t just head out of the house and think to yourself, ‘I’m going to find a new best friend today!’. If only it were so easy. But, as the reigning Lone Wolf in these here parts, I can tell you that most of the besties are scoffed up ASAP. But I believe in quality, not quantity, and finding one new friend that likes me for me would be quite the challenge.
Then again, there’s the forbidden love. Romance.
I simply cannot ride down into the village from my home on that mountain, no, sir. Riding into town and looking for love is the equivalent of stopping by Seven Eleven for a ‘gourmet’ hot dog; you’re just not going to find it. Oh, perhaps you’ll find some poor village pickpocket/waif, but if you’re looking for the real thing it takes more effort than parking your white steed out front and wandering into the Come-on-Inn.
Everything in your quest hinges on one thing: can you be the Prince Charming, the Princess Bugs Bunny? Can you stand there in the glinting sunlight, shield blazing, sword at the ready to swagger in and claim your beloved?
Hmm. I thought not.
Let’s face it; when you’ve been out of the saddle for almost ten years, you’re lucky if you can get on the horse and ride at all.
And so, we come to the relationship-killer: anger, frustration, lack of self-esteem and worse, an overriding sense of doom. There’s a lot of crazy at the bottom of the barrel, I’ll tell you, and the idea of meeting a new love relationship scares the living crap out of me. So I end up going through each of these four emotions every time I consider taking up the quest and finding true love.
Relationship-Seeking Killer #1: Anger
Oh, yeah, man, I’m pissed. Why can’t I just get out there and find someone for me? What the hell! And here’s where I insert about fifty thousand extremely loud swear words of choice. Someone better love me right now or I’m going to pitch a fit and fire my cat-machine gun. Ahhhh! What the f#$k!
Relationship-Seeking Killer #2: Frustration
Oh, how I want someone to do this to me! To flirt, to blow me kisses, to tease me in the nicest way. But there’s something wrong with this picture. I can’t act on the ‘seeking’ part of seeking a relationship; that would take something of a miracle, and I don’t get miracles. I get frustrated. Tired of waiting, anxious about my weight or my looks, upset that no one is coming my way. Frustrated in that there is apparently no one that will give me even a slightly interested smile. Or wink. Or anything. So when it gets really bad and the obvious becomes, well, obvious, then it’s time to go to step 1. And if that doesn’t work, then let’s move on to the reason why I feel that frustration.
Relationship-Seeking Killer #3: Self Esteem and the Lack Thereof
Okay, look, some people simply do not allow a low sense of self-esteem to enter the dating picture. Some people don’t seem to care about it too much. But I do.
When you have low self-esteem, dating’s a nightmare. Everything is wrong. You don’t look good, you don’t feel right, you believe all the lies your mind can come up with and for me, that’s a great big pack of lies. Building self-esteem is hard work once you’ve been a wallflower for too long. You just don’t feel connected to the idea of dating. Any potential date is going to seem completely out of reach to you. And when they find out you have bipolar disorder, forget it; there’s enough stigma to go around on that judgment when it comes to finding romance (on both sides). One quick downtown Frappucino and that person bolts like a startled barista and you’re left with the dregs.
Of course, it could be worse, and it is.
Relationship-Seeking Killer #4: Overwhelming Doom
This is the place. Doom, depression, the overwhelming failure, the giving up. That place.
And it’s easy to get there. It’s easy to give it up, to lose hope. There’s really no effort to that emotion; you just allow it and there it is. No one will ever love me, no one wants me, I can’t stand my life and myself and I just want to forget all about hope.
I’ve been there more times than I can count. Rejection, believing the lies you tell yourself, throwing away whatever work you’ve done toward finding love — all out the window, all dark and lost in the forest again. This is a place for which I have no humorous description. It’s an all-too-real place that we construct for ourselves. It’s a place where we hang it up and allow that failure to consume the best in us.
This not a world where the shine of love is found. This is the world where, if we do not come to believe in ourselves, we give up the fight.
It is the subjugation to our fear that brings us here, the place where anger, frustration, low or no self-esteem combine and become the most difficult thing you have to overcome: the sense of doom.
But there are ways to overcome this doom, and I tell you from experience that this is so. I work against it every day. I war with those emotions and reassert my intent toward victory against them. I use DBT skills to observe and detect the emotions that pose potential harm and I evaluate how I can best fight them.
Because I wage that war, I once again have some hope that I’ll meet someone who will fall into romantic love with me. Lofty goal, yes, but take a good look around you: there are plenty of people who against all odds manage to find someone to love, someone to befriend, someone to care about and with which to experience the best and worst of life as it comes our way.
Relationship-Seeking Positive Tip #1: Give Someone The Hug They Deserve
A real, open and meaningful hug is the most simple, effective and the best medicine in the whole world. A single hug can start a whole new world of possibility. I realize that sounds nuts but I assure you, it’s true, and once someone gives me that well-deserved hug, I have hope that it can open a new world for me.