If this is the fall where you can’t quite seem to get excited about the idea of new beginnings, I’m writing this to you. You’re here, I know, because you’re holding onto hope by a tiny little thread. I get it—it seems like an impossibility that you will meet the right person, someone who will love you and someone you will love. It seems likely that your relationship status will stay as it is. After all, what’s different about now?
I have any easy time succumbing to doubt myself. In other ways, my life is going really well, maybe that’s enough, maybe I don’t get to be happily coupled as well. When I say things like this to my therapist, or to the friends who know and love me, often they laugh. Why wouldn’t it happen to you? They say. It’s just not the right time yet.
It’s so easy for me to hold hope for other people. I’m confident that my friend who is job hunting will find something great, ready at any moment to hear of long-awaited pregnancies, of a closing date on the right house, of new boyfriends, engagements, and book deals. Why is it so hard for me to believe that the very best things will happen to me?
Lately, I’ve been taking a break from hope. I’m letting other people hold it for me. I’m letting my therapist believe that love is just around the corner, letting my girlfriends look forward to dancing at my wedding, letting my family know for certain that someone is going to fall in love with my particularities and quirks.
It’s helped me to be lighter, not hoping all on my own. Maybe you should try it, too. I’ll hold some hope for you.
Maybe you’re comforted by statistics: the numbers show that most of us will eventually find partners, even if we have to wait a while.
Perhaps you prefer anecdotes. Lately, I’ve watched a few couples get together, even in my small city, where it seems like everyone is already married. There is no way of knowing where love is going to strike, and when.
But maybe you just need to hear somebody say this: you’re going to make it through. You are strong, and brave. You have what it takes. You are lovable. You are just someone’s type. You are the answers to somebody’s prayers, the one they have been waiting for. I just know it.
Believe me, I know that waiting is hard. I don’t blame you if you want to take a break from carrying the weight of hope. Pass it along to your friends, give it to your therapist if you have one. Maybe you’ll find that you’re better off without it. I’m sure that ceasing to worry will not preclude your meeting someone great. Maybe without the worry, you’ll be able to see them more clearly when their path intersects with yours.
So give up the stress, the doubts, the franticness. Embrace true hope, which is calm and self-assured. Allow yourself to believe that all is well and that everything will come right in the end, and see how it feels. Relax into the knowledge that you are loved and lovable already, as if it were a warm bath.
Don’t forget to treat yourself with kindness—make yourself something delicious to eat, wear your favorite sweater, put on your favorite song in the car, go out with friends, or go to sleep a little earlier. Remember that you are your best significant other, no matter how great a future partner might be. They might love you to the moon and back, but they will never know you as well as you know yourself. Set an example for how you should be treated. Be generous with you.
They always say that love happens when you aren’t looking for it. For many of us, this is a completely ridiculous statement. Even when I’m at my most content, I can’t trick myself into thinking that I don’t want a partner. My eyes still turn when a new guy enters the room. I can’t turn off that part of myself that wants to fall in love. Maybe you can’t either, so don’t. You won’t block love by hoping for it, by talking about it, any more than you will attract it by playing coy. When it comes, it still might manage to surprise you, how, or when, or who, but it won’t mind if you swing the door open wide, seeing it coming. For my part, I’ve left the door open with a note on the screen. Let yourself in. I’m ready, wrapped in hope.
Cara Strickland writes about food and drink, mental health, faith and being single from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys hot tea, good wine, and deep conversations. She will always want to play with your dog. Connect with her on Twitter @anxiouscook.