Given that we are in the midst of the hoopla that is Valentine's Day, I thought I'd take a moment to tell you a love story. Spoiler... it's my own. I know many of you are in relationships or engaged, and many of you are newly married like myself. But I also know many of my friends out there are still searching for their prince charming. I wanted to tell this story for my single ladies and share my advice and experience with you in hopes something resonates or helps you keep the faith that your guy is out there. As much as this is for those still searching, I also want to tell this for my girls who have found their guy. Sometimes we just need a reminder of how much we longed for these awesome partners we have and how much we love and care about them. What better time to share than this Valentine's Day week.
Just 14 months ago, I was a single girl living on my own in Charlotte, North Carolina. I had just moved there a few months prior after a 3 year stint in Greensboro, North Carolina; a place I lovingly refer to as the armpit of America. No offense Greensboro, but for a fresh out of the box college graduate... you kinda stink.
After 3 years in Greensboro, despite the amazing friends I made and the career success I had experienced, I knew my time in Greensboro was over... I had to get out. I set my mind to it, started the hunt for a job, interviewed and just 3 months after I declared what I wanted, I moved to Charlotte, NC - a mecca for young professionals in the financial industry.
I will be honest; a lot of my motivation for moving to a new and bigger city was to expand my horizons for finding "the one." While there may be a lot of fish in the sea... Greensboro was landlocked. Literally and metaphorically no water in sight, and no fish to be found for this girl.
In the early months of moving, much like I grabbed the reins on where I'd live and where I'd work, I began taking matters of love into my own hands. Online dating. Oh yes. I went there. After a serious, yet failed relationship in Greensboro, I made my first attempts at the world of online dating and actually met someone on eHarmony who I dated for several months. Turns out he didn't realize that eHarmony was for people who actually want to be in relationships... crazy, right? #Dud.
To make a long story short (and to completely avoid talking about Tinder), after moving to Charlotte I tried several dating sites, sadly without experiencing any success... until I did.
A few months into living in Charlotte, I joined eHarmony again. In the first few weeks, a very handsome guy was matched with me and I just knew I needed to get to know him. In a totally out of character moment for me, I made the first move by sending a wink to Jim, and the rest, as they say, is history. We went through the eHarmony steps, we exchanged email after email, and finally on December 5, 2013, we met in person for the very first time.
While this is truly an eHarmony success story, the years leading up to finally finding my guy were not without heartache, struggle and disappointment. I've had my heart broken. I've made mistakes and learned important lessons, read countless blogs and books filled with dating advice, vowed I'd become a nun and never marry (jk!), and lost faith more than a handful of times. But ultimately I think these bumps in the road led me to meeting the man of my dreams.
Here are my thoughts and advice for keeping the faith.
If it doesn't work out, it's because it wasn't supposed to // Ugh, this is the hardest thing to believe when your heart is broken. We don't want to believe that the person we love is NOT the one for us, despite everything showing us he is not. I have been there. I have found myself at the end of a relationship thinking I'd never meet anyone I could possibly love again. But, guess what? I did. And it's better than anything I could have ever imagined in those moments of hurt.
You never know what's right around the corner // For my single gals, you truly just never know when it will happen. I went from single and on my own in Charlotte, to married living in Greenville 10 months later. If you had told me in October of 2013 that I'd be married (much less happily dating someone!) in one year, I truly would have taken you straight to the loony bin. The best and most exciting part is that we DON'T know what is right around the corner and if we lose faith on finding it, we just might miss it. And for my girls who are in serious relationships, engaged, married - the same holds true. I am baffled every day but how much I learn about my husband and how much deeper our love grows through the happy and challenging times alike. In many ways, we don't know what adventures are around the corner. But we're now keeping the faith in each other and sharing in that adventure together.
Be open minded // Jim and I not only lived in different cities when we "met" but we also have a bit of an age gap between us (he is 74 and I am 26. JUST KIDDING. We are 10 years apart). Jim would tell you that technically he noticed me first online, but thought I was too young and pretty to be interested in him (mmhmm...). And to be honest, I had jus moved to Charlotte. I had NO idea what was to come, but the thought of someone in another city scared me. We both chose to be open-minded and just see what happens, without expectations based on location, age or other silly facts.
Dare to Make a Move // My mom grew up teaching me very old-fashioned advice when it comes to dating, and I absolutely love her for it. She taught me to expect to be respected, and that true gentleman really do exist. She also taught me that ladies never ever make the first move and to let the man make the first move. I actually have a very vivid memory of her storming into my room as a teenager and hanging up the phone because I called a boy and GIRLS DON'T CALL BOYS. Scarred me for life. Mom, I love you, but in this digital age where things move so fast and windows for interaction can be short, sometimes you just have to make the first move, even when it feels uncomfortable. Rejection sucks. But you are awesome! And if someone doesn't went to get to know you, then that is on them. Putting myself out there (there being online) and sending the first nudge of communication often led to nothing. Like I said before, if it doesn't work out it's because it wasn't supposed to and thank goodness for that because when it finally did, it was for all the right reasons.
Get to the Third Date // This isn't so much a hard rule as a general guideline. If he shows up on the first date and he hasn't showered in a week, or maybe his mom dropped him off (and he is 30 years old), run very quickly. But if you are coming up with silly flaws and excuses as to why you won't go out again, thing about why that may be. Fear? Doubt? Nervousness? Make sure you give each other the benefit of a couple of dates. Jim and I would agree that sparks didn't fly on our first date. I was nervous as can be and he still laughs that I pretty much shredded a paper napkin in my lap thanks to my nerves. But the second date... the sparks flew. And so did my wine glass. I spilled red wine all down the side of my nice blush colored blouse, but you know what? We truly connected on that date despite that embarrassing and less than perfect moment. By the third date, things were smooth sailing and we were inseparable.
Go with your gut // We have heard this over and over, but when it comes to matters of the heart it is the simplest and best advice we could ever take. I can think of countless moments in past relationships where something was just not right; that deep gut feeling that something is off. And you know what? You're usually right. Listen to your gut and follow your instincts - no amount of talking about it with your mom or your girlfriends will change that gut feeling. And for my girls who have found their guy - when he leaves his empty coffee cup on the counter or forgets to take the trash out again, remember that you are together because you had a gut feeling of your own and you KNOW he is the one for you! And that at the end of the day it's just a cup on a counter.