The greatest thing about love, I believe, is that it’s the most democratic of human experiences. Anybody can do it, and just about everybody does it (with the exception of sociopaths). What some of us forget to value or recognize is that even if we aren’t doing it in a romantic way, we’re doing it in other ways—and doing it well.
Look at the people you love and who love you back. Now take out the family members, because you didn’t choose them. This leaves your friends. Narrow these down to the three you have the strongest relationship with, the ones who you trust in any situation. At first glance they may seem dissimilar. For example, one may be a quiet stay-at-home mom, another an outspoken interior designer, still another a wisecracking novelist. But your relationships with these three will have a few things in common, even if at first glance these qualities aren’t obvious. Going back to the pals above—which, okay, are my pals—I have to point out that all three are wildly independent people who are also pee- your-pants funny. And...not the best dressers.
This is where I do love well, and luckily after years and years of badly managed romance interactions, I met my husband, who shares all these same traits. Understanding that not only are you—like everybody else—absolutely, positively capable of love, but also that you are awesome at it with certain, very specific people gives you confidence, yes. But it also really narrows down the field. After all, how many funny, independent guys wearing plaid winter pants and a striped summer jacket can you find at any one rooftop cocktail party?
4. How do I look when I’m sitting alone—but interested in sitting with somebody else?
Perhaps you’ve gotten this advice: Go to a restaurant alone and eat dinner. Or: Go to a movie alone. The rationale behind these directives is that men who are at these venues and are also alone will see you, feel comfortable and come over to say hello. It may even be that I was the one who gave it to you.
But here’s the catch. I was a travel writer for many years. I strode into hotels from France to the North Pole, plopped down at the bar, ordered a glass of oaky-yet-overpriced Chardonnay and met...exactly no one.
My friend Sukie, on the other hand, can go to bar and meet someone in about 10 minutes. This is not because she is prettier, funnier or sexier than I am. It’s because of the expression on her face. She looks relaxed. She looks open, if not ready to laugh at the world’s dumbest joke. I look like I have a lot of stuff to do, stuff that requires me to choke back that wine and get right back to business in five minutes. It’s a facial expression I picked up to keep luridly friendly strangers on the street from striking up conversations about, say, my derriere.
The truth is that for much of our lives as women (and girls) we’re told to not talk to strangers, on the street or anywhere else. Even decades later, this training is hard to undo. You don’t have to give the men around you bedroom eyes, fling your hair around and pout your lips. Then again, you also don’t have to look stressed, exhausted, closed and annoyed. You can take a minute—think of the time your brother mistook your glue stick for Chapstick—and smile, genuinely.
Next: "What do I never have to do again?"