FS Mag Life I used to think 'why am I always single?' Then something happened... By James Barber @jMindCleanse Photo © www.flickr.com/purplesherbet After years of searching for ‘Mr Right’ I think I’ve finally found my match. He’s smart, funny, creative, affectionate and emotionally balanced, pretty much ticking all the essential boxes on my list. I’ve always been picky and perhaps that might explain why I’ve been single for most of my adult life. But now that all looks set to change – the only problem is that I’m just beginning to learn how to have a healthy relationship and it’s much harder than I thought it was going to be. It’s a somewhat daunting feeling when you suddenly meet someone who you can actually see yourself going the long distance with. It feels so foreign to me. I’m more used to short-term relationships, heartbreak, abandonment and men only wanting me for sex. But this new guy really wants to get to know me, the real me. Sure, it’s flattering but I’ve been fighting against my desire to sabotage this new relationship. I wasn’t expecting this to happen so soon. I’ve spent years working on myself, learning how to love all the different parts of myself. I’d read countless books about it, I’d been to the workshops and the retreats, but the concept of loving myself was still just a concept. Intellectually it resonated with me, but emotionally it still hadn’t clicked. Secretly I’d hoped that all the self-development I‘d done on myself would yield me the perfect boyfriend, but as the years went on I found myself still single. And that was when I had to ask myself this question – am I really not in a relationship because I’m too busy working on myself? Or is it because I’m really avoiding the vulnerability and emotional intimacy that comes with being in a relationship? And it was the latter question that scared me the most, not being in a silent meditation retreat for nine days in the middle of nowhere or finding my authentic self halfway across the world. The real challenge that faced me was taking all the insights and revelations I’d had about myself during the intense process of connecting with my true self and applying it to my everyday relationships. For me there had always been a convenient separation between my holistic pursuits and my personal relationships. But since meeting this new guy, those two disparate worlds are coming together. The more I open up to him, the more I share my innermost thoughts and feelings, the closer I feel towards him. In past relationships I always felt as if there were certain parts of myself that I had to hide for fear of judgement and rejection. I came out of the closet a long time ago but I am still in the early stages of coming out ‘emotionally.’ I’m still learning how to confront my fears of being completely open and transparent with another man without worrying that he’ll dump me as a consequence. Sometimes I feel the desire to revert back to my old patterns of being secretive, running away and finding refuge in men who are emotionally unavailable. I’ve always been attracted to men who were emotionally unavailable because I too was emotionally unavailable. I didn’t feel worthy of being loved. In my eyes I wasn’t enlightened enough, I wasn’t toned enough, I wasn’t sorted enough – I wasn’t enough. Unconsciously seeking men who were unavailable was a way for me to keep a safe distance from having a real intimate relationship. I didn’t have to give too much of myself, so if things didn’t work out I wouldn’t get hurt. But I’d spent most of my young adult life doing that and it hadn’t worked, so perhaps it was time to break the cycle. Literally a couple of weeks before I met my current partner I had written down the essential qualities I was looking for in a potential mate. I’d spent so many years declaring what I didn’t want that I’d lost sight of what I did want. Deep down I knew that finding the right partner was not just about being clear about what I was looking for, it was also about me believing that I was worthy and deserving of being with someone who could meet my core desires. There are still moments when I feel unworthy of being loved, but I’m actively challenging those fears and insecurities. Every day when I look at my reflection in the mirror I make a conscious choice to say something positive and loving about myself. It’s not narcissism; it’s about me getting into a space in which I can finally embrace myself. It’s taken me a long time to get here but I’m actually starting to like myself and I finally feel open enough to accept why someone else might like me too. Would you like to write an opinion piece for FS? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. FOLLOW JAMES ON TWITTER Tweets by @JMindCleanse THIS ARTICLE WAS TAKEN FROM ISSUE #149.