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After ending a long-term relationship, I chose to be alone for a stretch of time. I needed to learn myself, and to make sure I fully understood I didn’t need to be rescued in order to survive. With the support of my girlfriends, my boys, and my family, I could make it on my own.

Granted, that’s not really alone. But let’s face it, no woman is an island, and it was as close as I ever want to get.

During my “alone” time, without a husband, boyfriend, or lover to turn to, I pushed for growth. I transformed myself into a decent cook. I started to speak up on my own behalf when I felt wronged (not always, but a heck of a lot more often.)  Most important of all, I learned to draw boundaries around my non-negotiables (check out Brene Brown’s transformitive book, Rising Strong.) During the process, I became a better person.

That said, six months without a romantic partner was enough. This girl needs someone to kiss goodnight and cuddle into in her sleep. So, in the middle of a nerve-inducing book release, managing my boys and their schedules, and growing a small business, I dove into dating.

People say love comes along when you aren’t looking for it, and when you least expect it. That narrative didn’t work for me. I am INcapable of waiting patiently for shit to happen. Once I’ve made up my mind, I go after what I want.

Finding true love became a mission, and I dated a variety of different men: movie star handsome, granola, preppy. Shorter, taller, younger, older. American, foreign. Wealthy, struggling. Fit, unfit, educated, street smart. Funny, serious. Jewish, Catholic, Christian, Atheist.

A lifetime of experiences crushed into a matter of months.

I took advice. My brother-in-law said, never date anyone who drives a BMW. My therapist insisted an evolved woman should not settle for anyone who isn’t emotionally available. My mom said, find a giver. My bestie advised; don’t date a dickhead.

What did I look for? First off, I coveted all those universal wants you will find on any standard dating site: Searching for that elusive mix of chemistry and friendship, someone who likes me and my children, and in turn, I appreciate their inner circle.

Then there are the qualities unique to each individual’s personal history and desires. I grew up in a family that likes to break the rules and test the limits. I needed someone at least a little rebellious, and willing to take risks. While a kind, loyal guy who treated me and my boys well was a priority, the sweet, shy, perfectly behaved boy-next-door, wasn’t going to make the cut.

I got lucky! It seems as if I have found someone who meets all the checkboxes on my superbly researched and well thought-out checklist. I still have armored safety walls built high around my heart, and I am not ready to put a name on it. I will say, however, this new guy is awfully cute and he makes me smile. AND, our shoes…. are a perfect match.

So far, it’s good.

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