On your recent trip to the market for milk and eggs, you probably noticed the aisles now overflowing with pink. Pink stuffed animals, pink wrapped candy, red and pink flowers – both cut and planted – and signs everywhere about the impending arrival of Valentine’s Day. Just when we were catching our breath after an exhausting holiday and welcoming the new decade, consumer consciousness is being primed yet again for a run at your credit card.
Hard to ignore. But of the possible cynical responses to the commercial hype, there is another message underneath that inevitably breaks through our shells of resistance: The message of the universality of Love, in all its manifestations, among and between all members of the human race.
Last week we heard from a lovely woman, a client from the Bay Area who is smart, successful and very attractive. Dierdre is in her mid-seventies and has been widowed for fifteen years. In the years since her partner died and her grieving period ended, Dierdre has been on a quest to find love again, knowing well how different her life would be with a partner. She went online for several years with moderate success, meaning that she met men who were “nice guys” and often “interesting to be with”, but never special enough for her to pursue a longer-term relationship. All of Dierdre’s friends knew of her search and were on the lookout for her, and her colleagues at work often had useful suggestions about where to meet new men and make new connections.
But nothing really clicked, and the last time we spoke with her, she was feeling discouraged with bruised optimism, almost ready to throw in the towel. “It doesn’t look like the universe has me in its mind,” she said. The most we could do was to try to encourage her not to call off the search. Last week was different… “Guess what,” beamed Dierdre all over her email. “I met someone.” (The three-word magic phrase every single longs to say.) “He is wonderful! He’s my age and shares my interests, and we connect on so many levels. We decided to elope – no fancy parties – and then meet up with family and friends when we return from cross country skiing in Canada.”
Why is it when we are at a low point, ready to give up, frustrated, disappointed, that somehow something good happens? Why is it that childless couples who have gone through IVF unsuccessfully and finally decide to adopt suddenly get pregnant? Is it magic? Is it just lucky, like winning the lottery? Or, is there some other force that shapes the world’s response to us?
At Peggy Wolman Matchmaking, we believe in that other force. Janis Joplin sang about it, and we have seen this in force in action too often to call it some random event. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Yes, that feeling of having exhausted every resource of strength and hope somehow manages to change the way we are in the world because we are free to be who we really are. In such a state, there is no longer any pressure to succeed, to find that special someone who will fit your dreams, no need to be inauthentic with others, no reason to be anyone but your true self. And guess what? We find that the most attractive quality of a person is his or her willingness to be real, to be vulnerable, to share deep feelings of fear and hope. This quality draws people to you, and you to people.
There is no magic in moving toward authenticity. Some of the steps we help our clients with are to put away their lists of what their new love must be like, or the qualities he or she must have. We also encourage our clients to look in the mirror and ask, “So, what is it exactly that I am bringing to this new hoped-for relationship, and how can I take the chance to show myself in a real way?”
Valentine’s Day has become our cultural reminder that Love is fundamental and crucial to the human condition. We all begin life attached, and without attachment to sustain us, we wither emotionally and lose the vitality that sustains and nourishes us, and helps us nourish others. Love means attachment. Valentine’s Day is a reminder of the power of Love and the attachment that creates caring human bonds. So, at the beginning of our new decade, push yourself to continue the search with an open hand, an open mind, and an open heart.