What is Love?

Today was considerably trying in regard to physical and emotional relationships with members of the opposite sex. After drinking a glass of pinot grigio with dinner, my plan was to curl up in bed with J. Taraborrelli’s “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe,” but several pages in I felt incensed and inspired. (*NOTE* Make sure to scroll down and click on the online dating article written & published in my early 20s.)

It’s been brought to my attention that the stronger you are in your convictions, the less attractive you are as a mate. Are men intimidated by me – by a successful woman?

Sometimes I wonder why my parents raised me to be a proud, independent woman of the world capable of doing whatever I put my mind to; but then I remember that they truly wanted what was best for me and couldn’t have been more correct in their guidance. Marriage wasn’t even to be considered until I reached 30, since they imparted on me that people change considerably during their 20s (and some not for the better). Additionally, kids – while very much welcomed – required that I had at least an extra $1,000 a month to spend, which during my 20s was non-existent. All extremely sage advice from a couple married just over 40 years, with the most important being, “Above all, NEVER settle.”

Granted, at least a quarter of my friends are bitter divorcees with mortgages (not ALL of them) but for the better part, many are happily married with children. The barrage of questions regarding my singledom is inevitable at public, private, and familial functions.  “But you’re so pretty….you’re so smart…you’ve accomplished so much!” Trust me, I’ve heard it all and it’s getting VERY old. Just two days ago, sitting across from my brother and cousin, I realized we were the last several unmarried cousins of nearly two dozen.

Newsflash! “Single is NOT a sickness. There is NOTHING wrong with me,” (courtesy a colleague, J. Brown).

This also brings to mind April 2012’s absurd CNN coverage regarding tips on how to “eat alone in public.”

Caity Weaver of the widely-read and terribly amusing media blog Gawker posted the following tongue-in-cheek reaction which I whole-heartedly stand by: “If Women Stop Eating Alone Whom Will We Pity in Restaurants?”

Double standard much? Or has the culture we’ve been raised in fostered this kind of  self-loathing behavior among females? Coming from an all-girls private high school just outside the capital of the free world, I find this incredibly disturbing and just plain sad. What’s so ironic here is that these women are only “alone” because they are on business trips. If they are on said trips, they must be successful (i.e. they have careers, travel, expense accounts, etc.). Given that, why are these women who confidently climbed the corporate ladder so terrified of alone time with a meal in front of them?

In the infamous words of pop icon, entrepreneur, actor, author, singer, and professional “diva” RuPaul: “Honey, if you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love someone else?…..Can I get an Amen?” 

AMEN! But I digress. While this post focuses on independent business women finding love, such as myself, it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with eating alone.

Over the past 17 years, I’ve dated men in five different major cities (Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Annapolis, NYC, and Boston) and on one other continent. I’ve dabbled in nearly every online dating site since the concept’s inception. Here are examples from two specific forays into the technological relationship minefield. After filling out a 45-minute survey/personality questionnaire, eHarmony’s system informed me there were “No matches for me at this time.” I received this response twice – once in 2005 and again in 2007. Match.com boasts being “the number one destination for online dating with more dates, more relationships, & more marriages than any other dating or personals site.” Once my first six months with Match.com ended (in a new city) and after complying with all the “rules” outlined below, I received an additional six months free because of their “Find Love Guarantee.”

Six months came and went and with no successful unions to show for it, I called customer service and spoke with a representative. The male agent informed me – and I’m not kidding here – that it would behoove me to move if I wanted to find love (despite most of the places I’ve called “home” being listed as best cities for women’s well-being by a 2012 “Measure of America” report). His exact words were: “Men in those cities are just looking for the next best thing. They’re never satisfied.” YES, a Match.com representative passed on that recommendation to a paying client. Despite having one close friend who found his wife on the site, every time one of their ads appears on TV, I laugh and yell “LIES!” at the screen.

So what’s an attractive, smart, fun, worldly girl to do with information like this and similar reports noted by WTOP?

I guess I’ll revel in the fun I had in my 20s and provide you with this golden nugget written for my alma mater’s newspaper, Emerson College’s “Berkeley Beacon.” The last gentleman mentioned is now married and has a son, and we’re still friends. The following link will take you to a digital PDF of the amusing piece.

“Hook up with weird strangers online. An in-depth experiment into the wild and wooly world of on-line dating.”

So WHAT IS LOVE? The tagline from Cameron Crowe’s 1992 “Singles” movie poster is “Love is a game. Easy to start. Hard to finish.” It’s one of my favorite films and is featured in the below image of one of my guest room walls.

Those three simple sentences might entice potential viewers, but they leave me with little hope. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a team player, but I’ve never found much use for games in the realm of love. Maybe that’s my problem. I’m too straight forward…too honest.

Quotes from visual pop artist and Hollywood scenester Andy Warhol also appear framed next to the aforementioned poster. While I cannot change the past or the present situation, and most certainly will not allow what’s happened to dictate my future. In Mark Wrenn’s “Andy Warhol In His Own Words,” the legendary figure states:

“When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.” 

I refuse to change myself for anyone, but moving forward I have resolved to not let the minutiae of life – mainly men – determine my happiness. The majority of my life has been spent in academia, communications, music, the arts, volunteerism, and building a career for myself. What is meant to be will be, and I’m at peace with that for now. Why you might ask?  Because the most important person you should love is yourself and I do.