Add to this that my career and finances were in disarray in the chaos and depression of losing a 15 year marriage. I doubted that I could clean it up anytime soon, and doubted that any woman would choose a depressed guy with financial problems. I even told myself that there was no guarantee I wouldn't spend years or decades building a personal life and career that I love and watch it all turn to crap before my very eyes again. Does this sound familiar?
Many people avoid dating for all of these reasons, and I get it. I feel your pain. My purpose in this essay is not to nag you to date or make you feel some sense of obligation. The truth is, you won't start dating until you are firmly convinced that: (1) It can lead you to a better love; and (2) it will be a lot of fun in the meantime.
Here are a few ideas I learned that helped me out of the dating mind trap:
8. Some dating partners really like me. It is a lot of fun to be liked.
I could go on. But I think you see the general idea. Adopt supportive thoughts. Activate those thoughts by using them to create the emotions you are trying to find. Thoughts are just thoughts until we activate them with passion.
One more idea: We can shift the thoughts that are not serving us and adopt thoughts that are more supportive. Doing so involves risk and taking chances with our hearts. But without risk, we are already dead. As C.S. Lewis wrote:
"There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."
Lewis would know. He fell in love with Joy Davidman, a divorcee who was dying of cancer, and married her. She was the love of his life and he lost her less than four years after they were married. But the blessing of loving Joy fundamentally transformed him. His writing became deeper and fuller and richer. He finished raising her sons. He was a man who had always lived in his head before Joy found her way into his heart.
Friends, dating can be light-hearted and great fun. It should be. But, fundamentally, it is about our hearts--most of which have been broken at some point. Do we choose to protect them and watch them become hard and unbreakable, or do we move forward courageously in a quest to love and be loved, even at the risk of having our hearts broken again?