I’ve come to a lot of peace lately (the last year or two) with my singledom. There are a number of themes that have emerged and informed this stable, quiet, happy place. I’ve explored a few before here and here.

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Image by Merve Ozaslan

But recently I’ve realised this, with hindsight: I haven’t trusted myself to love another in the way I’d like to love A Special One and so, thankfully, subliminally, I’ve kept myself away from the field until I’ve had the emotional muscle to do it well.

As is so often the case when I explore a theme, a ripper quote then appeared from the interwebs (bless this mess!) to remind me I’m on the right track:

“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Not knowing how to love…what is this? I think it comes in many flavours. It’s loving the idea of someone or loving the potential of someone. I’ve done both. Of course, when the “idea” that you originally envisaged fades, or when the person chooses not to rise to the potential you mapped out for them, they disappoint. And, in their awareness of this disappointment, they become even more disappointing. Oh, and it all gets so messy and sad.

I think one of the base flavours of this kind of ignorant love is the living out of love externally. You cling, reach for, clutch something external to yourself and project your love on to it, hoping that it will remain there, within reach. But it starts to wander and so you chase it. And you leave yourself behind. It’s like any kind of external clambering – drugs, alcohol, fun times….

True love is when you hold your love steadily and it emanates out. You and your Special One are both facing the same direction. You move toward the similar goals, side by side. You don’t need to face each other and spoonfeed your love back and forth to each other (which keeps you at a standstill). You don’t even have to look sideways, you just know each other is there and that each others’ love exists in the void between you, and all around. And you move forward.

Anyway. I was a billion layers of emotional maturity from understanding this until recently. And I know I would’ve wounded way too many great humans if I’d poisoned them with my old, rank flavours of love. And I’d have tortured my heart with the destructive spoonfeeding.

I get it now. I’m moving forward anyway. When someone joins me for the ride it’s going to be truly excellent.

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Angelika

    A beautiful piece Sarah, thank you, I think you’re spot on. True love is grounding, its like two branches growing from the same tree of values, morals and goals. They’re both stable, supportive and strong – and they grow in the same direction – separately, but together. I believe we do find our ‘true love person’ in our life time, we just need to be emotionally mature and ready for it. Time and age is not an issue. Being ready and comfortable is the best feeling you can give yourself! Best wishes Sarah, I hope he’s ready and looking for you too.

  • Lisa

    Thank you Sarah. This really hits the nail on the head. I have been waiting for something like this to pop up, and it has, at the right time.
    your blogs, as usual are so grounding & open. Much love

  • Chelsea

    Yes! This is exactly it! My husband and I – before we met each other – both took ourselves off the market to do exactly this sort of soul searching, so we wouldn’t continue to work out our issues on someone else, but learn to love ourselves and others instead. It got us ready for each other.

    That quote you’ve mentioned is wonderful. I’ve not come across it before, but it describes exactly what we were trying to do.

    What you’ve written reminds me of a favourite quote. I had it written on my fridge all through uni and have found it to be so, so true. “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  • hazel

    Beautiful

  • Terry

    Man you are deep!! The last time I probably read this blog you had found some special, after much soul searching & reflection etc…. now it’s back to the drawing board.
    Love shouldn’t be so scientific & calculated. It happens when it happens – sometimes it doesn’t happen at all.

  • Great post Sarah, I think this is a universal concept – if we ‘cling, reach for, clutch something external to ourselves,’ we often end up disappointed.

    Nothing will ever be as fulfilling as discovering the gems within ourselves – I think perhaps that’s what emotional maturity is.

    It’s not easy, and as such I believe wholeheartedly in being kind to ourselves on the journey to ‘getting it.’

  • mw

    Hey Sarah
    Can’t remember when I wrote this ..
    I’m practising “sharing !”

    What Love Does …

    Love lifts up the phone every once in a while.
    Love sends a sign.
    Love turns up and puts out the garbage,
    or takes someone´s pre Gig or post Bad day stress attack.

    Takes it on the cheek, smiles and puts the dinner on.

    Love provides a mirror.
    Love waits at Airports.
    Love forgets the time but never forgets what Time it is.
    Love Stands up

    Love slams the odd door in it´s frustration
    ´cause it knows it has to grow.

    Love comes Back.

    Love Giggles

    wears the uncertainty, yes
    but waters the blossom of it´s partner.

    Love is not unnecessarily evasive or more enigmatic than it needs to be.

    Love knows that Love hurts
    and eases the pain accordingly.

    Love does not dispense of itself like crumbs falling from a rich man´s table.

    Love takes risks ..and waits … and prays
    and tries to get on with life.

  • How absolutely beautifully and honestly said. I’m right there with you, Sarah. I was married at 20, divorced 30 years later, with a partner for 8 years who died suddenly. Alone for 4 years now, I’ve been in loving relationship with myself (for the first time in my life) and now (at the young age of 61) find myself just opening up to the possibility… The other day as I approached the building where I was going for an intuitive reading, I glanced up and this is what I saw. You can’t make this stuff up! Thanks for the beautiful article! 🙂

  • Peter

    This is a great, thoughtful post Sarah. Has helped me clarify and focus the thoughts about relationships that have been fluttering around in my head for a while. Important to remain open to the possibilities going forward. A life shared with another special person is a life well lived at any stage on your journey.

    Peter

  • Anna

    Sounds like re kindling the honesty of first love – when that special other is just the bee’s knees.

  • Heather

    Bam, right between my eyes. Bullseye!

  • Lyrene

    wow – one of the best pieces I’ve seen from you – and that is saying something. Thank you for sharing your insights and learning’s with such courage. it means a lot.

  • Yvette

    Beautiful, insightful and so very true. Thank you for sharing. Xx

  • gwen

    Thank you for this piece, and thank you for it’s timing! Your bite-sized blogs of wisdom gives those of us still walking as lone rangers a little ray of hope that love. I thought I once lost the love of my life (a very generous and kind soul), but I have slowly learned (the hard way) that love is never really lost because it is cultivated internally, not externally.

  • Lyn

    In addition to everything you have said Sarah I also found I had to make time and find space for someone in my life. Once I did and I put it out to the universe it came together in the space of 12 months. It was just the right time and both my partner and I. Enjoy your single time as it is marvellous and will set you up beautifully for when you find that special person.

    • gwen

      Hi Lyn, I really like your perspective.

    • hmmmm, yes.

  • Emma

    Just… awesome. Love it.

  • Lynda

    Raw, honest and wise. You have so much to look forward to Sarah and I can only imagine a richer raw love awaits. You also bring a rich love to this community Sarah – thank you. Your words “and you leave yourself behind” softly linger. There is a beautiful book titled ‘Spiritual Ecology – The cry of the Earth’ which includes essays by Thich Nhat Hanh. This book came across my path and is up there for me with ‘Mans search for meaning’ and ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’. I also came across a book called ‘One – living as one and loving it’. In it Victoria states there is a wonderment in finding out who your are, seeing yourself clearly. Valuing yourself. Enjoying the quieter times in order to share the best of yourself with other. I love the simplicity of this book. The title says it all and for me is a conscious reminder (I am in a relationship) to never lose sight of me, my identify, my values and to keep stretching myself as the more connected I am, the more I am able to give of myself, take risks and keep an open heart. Life is messy and at the end I want to go out going…wow what a ride!!!

  • Ian

    Beautiful post, Sarah.

  • Hey Sarah, lovely words and it’s so great to read that you feel open and ready to call in love now…I’ve been following your journey in this area for quite some time, as for many years I also had my ups and downs with singledom.

    I think there’s many people out there who truly don’t understand the necessity of loving yourself first in order to attract and sustain a loving relationship with another. It is vital. A great place to start for those reading this is a similar space, is to ask yourself these following questions:

    1. What does self-love mean to me?
    2. In what ways do I love / not love myself now?
    3. How will loving myself unconditionally allow me to be the person I want to be and live the life I want to live?

    Powerful questions that will likely lead to deep self-inquiry.

    I feel excited for you – I’m sure your soul-mate is not far away xx

  • clementine rose

    I left a dysfunctional relationship last year and initially went into panic mode… “But I HAVE to meet someone before I turn 40!” etc. I put up a profile on various internet dating sites and began viewing any vaguely eligible man within 50 yards of me as potential mates. After a few months of this ridiculous thinking/behaviour, I stopped to take a good hard look at myself. I realised I was operating entirely from a place of fear: fear that I wouldn’t meet the right person by a “certain age”; fear of what others think of me (everyone else at my workplace is partnered); fear that I’ll never have the option to have children; fear that I’ll be alone FOREVER. I was allowing myself to absorb all the external pressures and societal myths that we all need to find a partner in order to be happy. I also realised that the idea there is some sort of time limit as to when you can meet someone special has absolutely no basis in logic or reality. So, I made the conscious decision to remain single; to make the most of this amazing opportunity in terms of personal time/freedom; to learn to be content within myself and to be strong enough to resist pressure from others to conform. It is liberating – I am enjoying my freedom so much and am trying to follow my heart and my dreams. If I do happen to meet someone special in future, I hope to be much more ready to love in the right way. Your article just confirms that I have made the right decision so thank you!

    • Hey Clementine. You hit the nail on the head about the societal myth that we need to find a partner in order to be happy. Happiness comes from within – we only have ourselves to rely on for true happiness. Sure being with a partner ‘adds’ happiness but letting go of the expectation that someone else will give that to you is golden. Congrats for empowering yourself and enjoying your freedom and following your heart and dreams 🙂

  • Ditto. I was just saying the other day, by the time I truly find love, it’ll be the most amazing relationship. The single years… have their challenges and gifts. But no gift more profound than really having the chance to get to know myself. X

  • brad

    hey sarah – you seem to be all sorts of lovely, almond milk latte sometime?

  • Tiff

    This is so moving. Thank you Sarah.

  • CM

    I guess we all take time to learn what love means to us. Like anything, it means something different to everyone. I don’t know if it would mean facing the same direction, the same goals to me. That could blow up when one partner feels a different pull. If there were a health crisis for example, one may be forced onto a different way. To me, love has always shown its true face in a crisis. When an ex who you thought was a player, shows true selfless kindness. When the nice guy disappears. Family and friends show their true faces then too. The sister you thought hardly knew you, who says she will always be there. When someone can love you at your worst . That’s true love. Marilyn Monroe said “if you can’t love me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best”.

  • Jacqui

    Awesome ? nailed it! Thank you…

  • Nicole

    This is a brilliant piece of writing! Struck a chord for me and no doubt for many more…

  • Trine

    Yes, spot on piece which put into focus my messy thoughts about the matter. Thank you x

  • Amarilla

    I’m continually bewildered as to why it is so important to others than I ” find someone special to make me feel great”. Weird. I have.
    Me.
    Though I would like someone to mow the lawns without money exchanging, ha!!!!

  • Elise Kline Christopherson

    I love this. I found my Special One when I was very young, and our love has evolved over the years, but what your piece says still rings true. No matter how we have changed (separately and together) our love emanates from us into the space between and there is peace in just knowing that it is there. Thank you for so beautifully putting into words what I have been feeling.

  • Orla

    Beautifully put, Sarah. I’m still grieving, but this helps. I sincerely hope we connect with that Special One before we’re too old. I want to grow old together!

  • Rose

    I agree Sarah. Thank you for this.
    I also feel it may be a double edged sword in that we have to learn to trust ourselves in love. We need to recognise when we are ready and not sit in a habitual place of comfort. To be trusting of our love, and aware of our own readiness. There is a wonderful video by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi about love, its on youtube, reminding us we don’t only love from ourselves, but as conduits of universal love.
    Thank you x

    • Rose

      my mantra is ‘I can handle it.’

  • Sarah

  • Gorgeous piece. Reminded me of “The Prophet” and chapter in there on relationships and what constitutes a good one. I was given it a little while after a horrible quarter life crisis break up and in reading the chapter I realised that the relationship just passed, was so, so far from healthy. It was such a gift of a book at 25 and I still go back to it now for various topics and find clarity on things that were very much murky 15 years ago… “The deeper the sorrow carved, the greater the joy to fill” is another favourite from there, that got me through a couple of dark times… Anyhoo, here’s to a deliciously good single life (and boy are there so many awesome bits to singledom) and finding someone who likes the look of what’s ahead as much as you do, in the future x

  • E

    Hi Sarah, i have just come out of a relationship with someone who didnt know how to love me back, and it’s been really tough – for sure i’m wounded. It’s commendable but you havent put yourself in a similar situation. Having said that, hopefully my ex will now work on his inability to love, and it will help him in the future, just as i will make a conscious effort to find someone who radiates true love. It’s all learning x

    • E

      sorry – 2nd sentence typo should have been “that” not but”