A friend once told me a story about a woman who desperately wanted to get married at a particular (very expensive and very popular) venue. Say Chiswick House. Even though her then boyfriend hadn’t asked her to marry him yet, she went ahead and booked the venue for the next available slot which was in two years’ time, convinced that her boyfriend will pop the question before the date the venue was booked.
But that didn’t happen. A few months later, her boyfriend broke up with her and she found herself single, with a wedding venue booked. You’d think she would cancel it. But it made her even more determined. She went out of her way to get another boyfriend so she can still get married at the said venue. She succeeded and got married there on the day she had it booked initially.
I have no idea whether she ended up with a happy marriage or with a complete disaster, but for what it worth and for what she wanted, she had achieved.
I may not agree with this particular goal, but I am firm believer in focused intention. It is the principle I have applied to The Love Project in 2013 when, at 33 years old, I decided I wanted to be in an accomplished and fulfilling relationship. I had made it very clear to myself that I didn’t just want a relationship. I wanted THE relationship of my life and I wanted it by the end of 2013. I knew exactly what kind of man I wanted in my life. Someone I could travel the world with, someone I could have fun with, someone I could rely on, someone I fancied the pants off, someone I would want as the father my children (when you come from a broken home, that’s a pretty big deal), someone I could happily share the rest of my life with without second-thoughts and what-ifs.
I even created a vision board with pictures of couples in situations I wanted to find myself in: couples cycling together, laughing together, couples getting married, couples gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes. And at the end of September 2013, after countless disastrous, dire, exhausting or simply unremarkable dates, I found him.
He is the man I travelled to Paris, Vienna, or Amsterdam with, the man I had brought home to Romania to meet my mother less than a month since meeting, the man who journeyed with me to faraway places like Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia or Sri Lanka; the man I volunteered with, looking after elephants, in Sri Lanka; the man I married two years ago, and with whom I confidently and without a doubt moved country with. He is everything I ever wanted and more (and by more I mean amazing qualities I hadn’t even had on my list of requests, but also a large number of things that piss me off, as it is only natural in relationships).
Focused intention worked for me.
I’m not saying it will work for everyone every single time, but by channelling my energy into this direction I seem to have garnered the approval of the universe. Something I can’t explain cleared the path for me, made things happen, took me by the hand and delivered me to my goal.
The universe hasn’t failed me yet. But if I had wanted something and it didn’t happen, it was because I didn’t want it bad enough.
My editor recently asked me who I thought the target audience for The Love Project was. Younger women, women in their late twenties to early thirties, I said, without a blink.
Not women my age. Because I thought for a moment of all my friends in their late thirties to early forties, who have built a good life for themselves, who are happy and confident in their career and personal pursuits and who have gone through so many dating disasters that they don’t want to waste a single moment of their precious time on yet another one.
‘To be honest,’ I said, ‘If I hadn’t met Alistair when I did, when I still had the motivation and the energy to go through the dating marathon I went through during The Love Project, I wouldn’t be wanting a man in my life anymore. I wouldn’t be reading my own book. I’d be travelling the world, adding more pounds to my credit card balance, I’d be going on yoga retreats and doing physical challenges and maybe get a dog or a cat and do an MA in creative writing, I’d possibly be an already published author. I wouldn’t be looking for a man.’
And I wouldn’t be the only one. As the article The Rise of the Alpha Single by Hattie Crisell, published in The Times, says, ‘there are plenty of 30-plus singletons around. Forty-three per cent of women aged 18 to 49 are not married. Research by Euromonitor International last year found that between 2016 and 2030, single-person households will grow faster globally than any other demographic.’ This is why the author thinks she’s ‘not actually that brave to choose to be single when the truth is that you find your single life to be wonderful.’
Since I met my husband, my life has been a roller coaster and, as much as it has been exciting, I haven’t always enjoyed the ride. Many a times I missed my single life, when I didn’t have to ask anyone for permission to get drunk on a school night and be so hangover that I had to call sick the next day, when I could spend my money in the most outrageous ways, when going on a weekend trip would have been a spur of the moment decision and when I could spend hours browsing the high street shops by myself and end up buying a sequined clutch that I really didn’t need. Yes being single was difficult at times, but it was also easy. Being in a committed relationship takes a lot of growing up and owning up to things you would have happily brushed under the carpet before. It’s a truth serum exercise on a daily basis. Not always an easy pill to swallow.
But sharing your life with someone, having a partner who has your back unconditionally, someone you can build something with, someone you can confide your worries and your dreams to, someone who will force you to grow up but allow you to stay a child at the same time, well, that’s worth the price.
But let’s be clear on this. I am not saying that you can only call yourself successful at life if you are in a relationship. In fact, I am delighted to see that we finally live in an unprecedented world that has become more tolerant and accommodating towards those of us who, by choice or circumstance, are living in it as singles. What I am saying is that it is possible you may have become a little too comfortable in your single life that you’ve stopped taking a chance on love. That you may have lost your motivation. That maybe you have let dating fatigue completely put you off trying. That maybe you can’t be bothered anymore. That maybe you are perfectly okay just as you are. But if, during a moment of complete clarity and self-honesty, you realise that, although you are enjoying your single life and the many benefits that come with it, you yearn to share the miracle called life with someone else, then maybe it’s time to focus your intention.
My mother, who is a devout church-goer, once told me that God rewards those who have patience. I would also add that God (the Universe, the Force, the Energy or however you want to call it) also rewards those who put in the work to show how badly they want something.