I was never one for Russian Roulette, but I think I’m changing my mind.
I don’t gamble. I’m a strategic thinker. I rarely take risks unless I know I will win. Which means it isn’t risk at all. This fear trickled over into my relationships too. Instead of being single and holding out for true love, I accepted backup options—men who showed an interest but not necessarily love at third sight. Am I really liking the risk of waiting for true love, with the loaded barrel of a gun in a lethal game of Russian Roulette?
Yes, yes I am.
I could die.
I could live.
But there is no inbetween. And just like settling for relationships that don’t really fulfill my heart’s desire, or match my character, I (metaphorically) could die. My discernment gave me a thousand warning signs of such relationships, yet I was a flexible girl who allowed men to walk all over her along with a barrage of criticism and dishonesty whilst I justified their pot habits. I thought the term ‘boundaries’ was used in a game of Rounders, and only facetious people said, “No.”
I’m stunned I didn’t marry at least one of the four men with whom I had long-term relationships, considering I was so accustomed to becoming chameleon-like with whatever attention was in front of me. You see, like many of us, I didn’t like to be alone. After a tirade of poor choices in which I always said, “Yes,” I lost myself, who I was, and what I wanted to be. I thought I might find light at the end of someone else’s approval, but all it brought was more shame, more people-pleasing.
One day between an episode of Friends and another blow to the heart by a guy who was so young we didn’t even share the eighties in common, I decided to embrace this delightful new concept called ‘authenticity.’ I’d read about a person in The Times who had discovered such freedom, and as I polished off my Pralines n’ Cream, something shifted. I embraced the thoughts, I actually deserve great kindness. I am worthy enough for the grace I give out, and I shall no longer fall victim to the ‘bad man’ mentality. It was always me letting them in.
Of course the unyielding stewards of the ‘holding out for the hero’ card can go overboard. After all there is a difference between settling and perfectionism. When your ‘husbandry lists’ adjudicate any potential date with, “Do they wear Levi’s or G-Stars?” Then Cupid, we have a problem. Such definitive lists only signal self-loathing within.
Don’t fall victim to the perfectionist’s invite, and don’t join their club. For the perfectionist’s list is created from a well of fear, shame and past mistakes. And no good decision is ever made from that sense of hopelessness. I’ve already tried and tested it. It’s also pretty difficult for God to fulfill the desires of your heart when you’re seeking the personality of Goldie Hawn, the self-discipline of Mother Teresa, the eyes of Nicole Scherzinger, the self-control of Condoleezza Rice and the billowy voice of Adele – all in a male casing. I’m sure there is someone reading this who will defy me and tell me, “Actually I found just that and he’s sitting right next to me!”
This article isn’t for you.
And may I say, “Well done.” But the majority of us have felt we should settle for something we don’t really want just to put off pressure from society. Or the snide remarks that, “You don’t know life until you are married, with child, own a people carrier, fill-in-the-blank. I can’t tell you how many people I counsel who are going through a divorce who share under whispered tones, “It didn’t feel right on the wedding day.”
Thanks to generational self-indulgence, the urge for emotional quick-fixes instead of long term aims are proving more of a problem. We want love, we want romance and we want it now. And unlike the hard work we put into our education or the steady climb up the proverbial career ladder, we don’t seem to feel the same when it comes to waiting for true love.
I’m sure those who don’t know me would place me in the ‘picky’ category purely because I did not marry by thirty-four. We settle for many reasons, but social pressure and the stigma of being single (also recently termed as ‘Singlism’), the baby clock, the fear of being alone and therefore feeling unlovable, are true and painful factors. But I’ve never met anyone who fulfilled their dreams by worrying about what society thought of them.
The successful dreamers appear to be the ones who give it all they’ve got. They fight, they are diligent when they face disappointments, they get up and try again, and above all their strong “No” brings valiance to their, “Yes.” I certainly have a non-negotiable list, and if I had stuck to it a decade ago instead of compromising, I may have found more suitable partners to date in my twenties: honest, secure, lives out his faith, humble, funny and sexually attractive. That’s it. No eye colour, no ‘must be the guy next door’ or stringent demands for ‘outdoorsy types.’ True love conquers all, but it comes from a place of respect, not a checklist or energy-sucking needs.
My brain hurts from some of the hopeless banter I hear, “Good luck finding all of those things… You’re not getting any younger… This isn’t really working out for you, is it?” If ‘working out for me’ or success means married with children for some, then I’m afraid we see things differently. Marriage and children are gifts, not accomplishments. Success for me is making powerful choices for the sake of my own heart, for my future children. To be truly sincere towards him from the beginning. I’m a better teammate now and I’m not looking for flaws so I can exit by Date Two. I’m looking for someone who will inspire me to grow as I equally hope for him. Relationships are a growing game and the healthiest ones ensure you do. It’s growth or die.
Finding true love in the dating world is a gamble I’m willing to make. To settle for a relationship in which we are being misunderstood, or repeatedly broken-hearted would feel the opposite of freedom, surely?
So I’m one for Russian Roulette—a gamble so great I may never find true love. But what’s the alternative? Anything lacking peace, anything that doesn’t make us grow, anything buckling under the pressure of a society that settles isn’t worthy of giving our lives to. I’ve seen people who are willing to take the blow, people who have found true love with happy marriages as its fruit, and people who never found true love but died happy in being true to themselves. Modern culture might tell me I’m living a lie, but I hasten to smile gently and reply, “But sweetheart, with what I’ve witnessed, I’m living the dream.”
Her Glass Slipper was created by Carrie Lloyd in 2012. She had left the advertising industry, and began journalism. Fascinated by relationships and emotional health. Since the launch of Her Glass Slipper, Carrie’s vulnerability opened up a conversation between her and other males and females who too were searching for intimacy without tying our codependent selves to a clothes rail because our boyfriend dumped us. She wanted normal, so travelled the globe interviewing, observing and shadowing everyone from happy marriages, to family therapists and divorce lawyers.
Be sure to check out Carrie’s new book – Prude: Misconceptions of a Neo-Virgin for more inspiring advice, wisdom and information about relationships and emotional health.