I had an interesting thought today, an interesting new take on something I’ve heard and thought about many times before.
The other night, I was talking to Kapteyn on Facebook, and it’s a long story how this came up, I swear I wasn’t just sitting around moping about it because I had nothing better to do… but I said something about how it was so hard to find that special someone, and she reminded me, among other things, that the most important thing in finding the right one is to be the right one yourself; work on that and everything else will work itself out. I’d heard this before, but it helped to hear it again.
But I was thinking about this a while later, and I thought, no, it doesn’t really help to hear this again, and being the right man isn’t what I need right now. Don’t get me wrong; I completely agree that working on myself is a very important part of finding and maintaining a relationship. I believe that a successful relationship is between two already healthy people rather than two incomplete people looking for a partner to fill their holes. But I’m questioning whether being the right man is enough for me. I can do all I want to be the right man, be respectful, listen when she needs to talk, be honest, work on my relationship with God, but none of that means anything when I have such a hard time knowing how to pursue a woman in the first place, how to communicate that I’m interested without scaring her away. Working on all that above stuff won’t make it any easier to clear up the confusion I still deal with over all the mixed messages I’ve received over the years, and all the lack of logic and rationality that is inherent in human interpersonal relationships. It feels, to put this in terms that my geeky friends would appreciate, like I’m a stranger to love. You know the rules, but I don’t. Again, not to imply that I disagree with what Kapteyn said, but she’s never been in my situation. She’s 20 and almost engaged, and while I don’t know everything she’s been through every moment of her life, it’s hard to believe she knows what it’s like to be single at my age and how hard it is to meet people with similar values.
But then I got to thinking some more. Maybe the problem isn’t in what she said, but in that I was interpreting it way too narrowly. Maybe there’s more to being the right man than my relationship with the Lord and how I treat women. Maybe being the right man includes learning to be confident and having a positive self-image and letting go of things in the past. Maybe being the right man means I’m not afraid to take risks and do new things, to take a bite of the apple God gives me instead of letting it pass by and waiting for an orange that’s probably never going to come. Maybe being the right man means recognizing that things aren’t always going to be perfect and not giving up when they aren’t, but instead picking up and moving on and learning from the experience. Maybe that’s where I need to work on being the right man. And in that sense, Kapteyn was exactly right.
Back to 2014. I told Kapteyn back in 2009 that I was going to write about this conversation, but I haven’t talked to her recently, so she doesn’t know that I’m posting it again. She’s 25, married to the guy that she was “almost engaged” to in 2009, and they’re expecting their first child soon. I’ve reread this post several times over the years, because it’s something I still need to remind myself of. And I’m still failing at finding that special someone. I’ve come to realize over the last couple months that my own unrealistic expectations may be playing a much larger role than I thought in my lack of dating and relationships. And being the right one means not holding on to unrealistic expectations, like what I said in 2009 about the apple and the orange. I haven’t exactly resolved this internal conflict yet, but that’s a post for another time. But the taking risks and doing new things, the positive self image and letting go (♪ ♪ “LET IT GO, LET IT GOOOOOO, CAN’T HOLD IT BACK ANYMOOOOORE…..” … oops, sorry) of the past , those are things I can and should continue to work on.