"Seriously, did you just ask me for dating advice?" There I was, little old me, sputtering and incredulous in the midst of a pirate themed birthday party for my friend's three year old twins. I get raised eyebrows from the overtly camp neighbour roped in for his facepainting skills - "girl, you're smoking, you must have something to offer her". Her being another friend, the only other single mom in our group of friends. The friend I first confided in when I became a single mom. Who was became single herself, in similar circumstances to my own, almost exactly a year before me. Who was entirely annoyed when, after three months of heartaching, I met someone new (the um, Brazilian, we called him, mostly because he had a silly name and, yeah, was from Brazil). She wasn't subtle about it then - as I recall her first reaction was 'um excuse me, didn't I already tell you not to meet anyone before me?!' - nor was she subtle when I arrived at the party with eyepatch and birthday presents, sans Brazilian. That kind of fake sincerity that made me wonder when did we become such frenemies, what happened to that sisterhood we shared? That made me instantly brush off her comments with 'but I am kind of seeing someone else'. But the kind of friendship that took me by surprise when in all sincerity she asked me 'how do you do it?' It being giving up bitterly resenting your ex. It being finding some balls in amongst all the crises of confidence the aforementioned ex left you with. It being meeting a guy (or three) somewhere between playgroup and doctor's visits, finding the time to date as well as all that parenting stuff I'm trying to kick-ass at and not losing your cool while all that is going on.
They all want the gossip on why it didn't work with Brazil. The answer is probably entirely boring - that he never really let me know he liked me, that he wanted to be a part of my life and my kid's, till I broke it off with him - and while I'm doing all this self-discovery I said 'hey, I'm kinda worth more than that'. And of course they all want to know about new guy, which leads to me the dilemma - am I really the right person to ask? Am I actually in a place to be dishing out relationship advice? I got over the ex so quick because I actually hadn't loved him for a long time before we made our break-up official, but I was pushing and pushing for it to work anyway. I met Brazil because it was four days before I left London and I set out with the intention of having an adventure or at the very least a fling with someone hot. And then I met new guy because umm he makes coffee for a living and I'm a sucker for a guy who can make me laugh? We're calling him 'new guy' since new guy and I aren't quite at that place to have had that conversation about what we are really, and I don't want to be that girl who is going to bring it up either. And I tell my friends I might not be entirely sure about new guy because he is so young - 'You're dating a younger man? !How young are we talking?' my friends, all in their late thirties, are picturing 25yo me with a teenager. 'Well umm, he's actually a week older than me... but that is young for me' (having only ever been with guys at least 10 years my senior and being a fully commited premature old person myself).
But there are some things that have led me to this point - things I could share, sure. I believe in manifestation, in using positive thought to attract the things you want and need. Like a couple of months ago I wrote out in my notebook exactly what I thought I wanted in a guy - a poetical sort of Heathcliff figure with passion and art and music in his veins - and the very next day (I kid you not) I meet the Brazilian. And after I realised that awesome guitar skills don't float my boat quite as much as they used to I said 'hey universe, I want to meet someone who accepts me, who makes me laugh and feel comfortable. And thinks I am awesome, natch, and tells me. And can handle the fact I've got a kid and isn't freaked out by it all.' I dunno, maybe the universe responded. There are so many books written on this subject, I don't need to add my voice to all the enigmatic cheering and promotion. But I would suggest you try it, you don't need to create your ideal man just yet, start on something small. I convinced myself by manifesting white feathers, I still find them on days I find myself and my faith testing.
And self-love. I have touched on it here before. How I realised that no matter what happens in my romantic life, I am pretty much living this life just me and my kid. And between 7pm and 7am (a gross exagerration, but it makes my point) my kid is asleep, and two nights a week he is off at his dad's house - in those brief moments it was just me and I can't keep avoiding eye contact and my own reflection all that much then. I believe that your mind is a tool, and one that we can control. So when I liked myself least I worked on loving myself most (though I'm mostly only at liking myself most days) - I wrote lists about all the awesomeness that I encompass. I talk to myself in the mirror while practising EFT, if you see me walking down the street you'll mostly likely notice I am muttering to myself - usually affirmations from this book, I visit this page daily and in a less than ideal situation you can find me thinking 'What would Gala Darling do?'
There's another thing I do, that I would advise my friend and anyone else to do. That is put yourself out there. Whatever that means to you. I'm not suggesting singles bars or internet dating if that kinda stuff makes you cringe. I mean mentally putting yourself out there in the world - not in an 'oh god, I'm going to die alone if I don't meet someone right now' but accepting that you are all kinds of gorgeous awesomeness and realising that at some point you gotta let go of some of those issues you've been packing in amongst all your baggage (I talked about my journey with this here and here).
I've already said, I'm no expert on dating, I mostly sleep with people on the first date, weird people out with my honesty, lose all semblance of cool when I like someone and second guess every other decision I make. But I am an expert on being myself, creating a life I love and tactfully ignoring other people's advice. Except when that advice comes at a kiddie's birthday party, when an overtly camp neighbour tells me to flaunt my fabulousness, give 25 year olds a chance to be the good guy and always always always believe in my own inner power.