The one phrase I heard the most was: "You'll find love when you least expect it." But it worked.
I sucked at dating. I was awkward, and nervous, and I could never have a good time, because on dates, I felt like I was on an interview for a job I was never going to get. That job? Someone's wife.
Some women are fiercely independent, bold, adventurous, and like being alone. They date for fun, with no expectations and no attachments. But not me. I was more of a nurturer, and from the time I was a little girl, I looked forward to the day when I would get married, create a home with a partner and then start a family. It's just how I'm wired, so I dated because I was looking for a husband.
The problem was, I couldn't find one. Night after night, coffee after coffee, ended in disappointment.
There was no chemistry, the timing wasn't right, three-quarters of the guys I went out with weren't looking for a commitment or we'd find a million different reasons why we weren't right for each other. Worse yet, if I liked someone, he wouldn't feel a spark for me or if a man felt attracted to me, I'd feel indifferent towards him. Nothing was clicking.
Friends set me up, I forced myself to go out and talk to people at bars, and I took classes in things that interested me, because once I read in a book that that was a great way to meet people. I committed myself to online dating, and I even went so far as to let my grandfather's 80-year-old friend set me up with his grandson. Still, I had no luck.
Everyone had advice about what I should do and it generally ranged from "stop trying so hard" to "try a whole lot harder," but the one phrase I heard the most during that time in my life was this: "You'll find love when you least expect it."
I really hated this. In fact, I hated it so much that every time someone said it to me I had fantasies of grabbing them by the back of the head and shoving their face into a public toilet. However, I still decided to give it a try. I decided to actively least expect things. I'd go out with friends and announce I was not expecting anything. Nothing. Nope.
"Look at me, least expecting things," I'd say, and then I'd throw in a little hint to the Universe. "Hey Universe! Look at me over here minding my own business. I am LEAST EXPECTING THINGS."
Finally, I gave up on the exhausting, soul-sucking, and obviously futile search for the love of my life. Screw it, I thought, I'm done. And I decided to actually start enjoying my life on my own terms for once. Alone. Without a guy.
Looking back this was one of the smartest decisions I've ever made.
I stopped online dating, I declined offers of blind dates, and I focused on going to school. I went on trips by myself and had fantastic adventures completely alone. I took classes in subjects I loved just because I loved them and not because I might meet someone.
Going out with friends was simply that, not a chance to run into "The One." This time I wasn't purposely "least expecting it," because I'd become so cynical and disheartened about finding love that I genuinely didn't expect it. But still, I was lonely and in the back of my mind, I still wished my perfect man would walk into my life so we could finally live happily ever after.
One day I was sad and lonely, and I sat down and made a very long and detailed list of all the qualities of my perfect man. I envisioned him so completely that I felt like I knew him and I did this because it made me feel less lonely.
I became very absorbed in creating my fantasy man, so I included everything on the list, right down to his eye color (green), and the fact that he wore glasses and would speak more than one language. When I finished, I put the list away and stopped thinking about it because what was even the point? I wasn't going to meet him anyway.
Several months went by and my loved ones became concerned about my lack of ambition towards finding a mate.
"Get back out there!" they said, but wherever that was I wanted no part of. I'd been burned too badly already.
"I'm not going to find anyone anyway, so what's the point?" I told them.
"The perfect man isn't going to come walking through your front door!" everyone told me. But that is exactly what happened.
It was an ordinary Sunday evening. Nothing about the day was remarkable except that it was Labor Day weekend and my parents were having a few friends over for dinner, just like they always did. But my parents' friends were all in their fifties and sixties, so the absolute last thing on my mind was that I was about to meet my husband.
I didn't even wear makeup or do my hair. I can almost promise you that I didn't shave my legs. I put zero effort into this event besides showing up and making myself a plate of food.
But there was this mysterious green-eyed young man sitting at the end of the table, and he was wearing glasses, and talking about his upcoming trip to Brazil. He seemed enchanted with the family cat, and not liking cats was a deal-breaker for me.
This guy was fascinating, friendly, obviously smart, and interesting, and it turned out one of our neighbors had brought him. He was the son of one of the neighbor's friends and was in town on vacation from San Francisco. Naturally, he wouldn't live here, I thought, but I couldn't stop talking to him.
I almost fainted when I found out we were the exact same age, and that he was single, straight, and wanted a girlfriend.
He left for San Francisco that night, but he came back a couple months later. That December we had our first date and spent a magical weekend together (I made sure to shave my legs that time). We knew that that we were meant to be together and after a two-and-half-year long-distance relationship, he moved to Florida to be with me... and we really did get married.
I always hated when people told me that I'd find true love when I least expected it but that's the way it happened for me. It sounds crazy to say that my future husband walked through my front door, but he really did!