Dianne (not her real name), is an unmarried acquaintance of mine who lives in Chesapeake. She considers herself to be an expert when it comes to dating.
Dating men in uniform, that is.
According to her calculations, she’s seriously dated 17 military men, 6 police officers, 5 fireman and 3 airline pilots in the last ten years. You could say Dianne – an extremely beautiful lady who has done some professional modeling in the past – has a thing for men in uniform.
Despite her own best efforts to get one of these men to fit her lifestyle and emotional nature like a kid glove, the truth is she has yet to find Him: Her prince, her knight in shining armor, the man destined to be her One and Only. An adorable, sleek-bodied savior whom (she hopes) will drive a late-model Mustang up to her front door, maintaining a substantial bank account after all his bills have been paid. A perfect man in uniform who will magically make her feel blissfully happy and emotionally complete.
Intensely committed to her search to find “him”, Dianne continues to struggle to achieve a life lived “by two” at what she considers to be the far-too-single age of 29 pushing 30, hard. Dianne admits she has searched for Him – the man of her dreams – in the eyes of practically every man in uniform she has encountered.
No matter how hard I try to convince Dianne that what she seeks cannot be found, the more determined she is to prove me – and a host of other friends professing the same sentiments to her – wrong.
In frantic haste, she relentlessly scours nightclubs on weekends, the vastness of the internet the rest of the week. She voraciously peruses personal ads in newspapers, month after month. Wrapped up in her own grand obsession, she peers hopefully into the face of every male with a trim haircut who happens to saunter into the Virginia Beach law office where she works.
Dianne is convinced He is out there. It’s just a matter of “finding” Him. Her man…in uniform.
So far, as a direct result of the short-lived romances she’s engaged in with these 31 men, Dianne has dined in practically every expensive restaurant in town, seen every comedian headlining at local comedy clubs. She’s traveled to exotic islands several times over, met ten extended families in states scattered across the country.
She’s even eaten sushi, this woman who absolutely hates fish in any form, twice.
Why? Simply for the sake of potentially reeling in that one True Love which she believes will magically transform her life into a satisfying, deliriously happy existence. Tragically, every last one of these romances has only managed to break Dianne’s heart.
What Dianne fails to understand is that the kind of lasting, soul-deep Love she searches for cannot be “found.” It, ironically enough , finds us.
Usually when we aren’t wearing our best outfits, don’t have our make-up on. When we’re in the throes of a really bad hair day. Even when we’re urgently trying to make a relationship with someone we’re involved with somehow work, even though we know, down deep, it isn’t the right relationship for us in the first place.
Those of us who know from our own experience will readily attest that Real Love simply happens, if we’re willing to wait for it. In other words, when we’re ready to abandon the urge to go out and purposefully hunt it down like a deer in season.
Facing our own intense fears and successfully conquering them in the process. Relying completely on our own faith that when the time is right, Love – real love – will walk up to the door, ring the bell and proclaim, “Here I am!”
If we aren’t willing to wait, of course, we can still find something close to the real thing
Temporary romantic relationships, sexual attraction, platonic love.
Dianne found all three by dating 31 men in ten years. Still, she wanted that “something more” and ended up getting hurt over and over, despite how all of her friends – including me – urged her not to make risky, emotional investments in the men she so swiftly committed herself to.
You might think that Dianne is in a class all her own. She’s not. An enormous number of single women out there are dying to get married, women who have certain criteria for what they want in terms of a mate and are determined to get what they want.
For instance: Men who make a lot of money. Live a certain lifestyle. Have children, don’t have children. Men who are gorgeous and well built, own homes in the “right” neighborhoods. Men who, like those Dianne is attracted to, wear a uniform for a living.
I asked a handful of the most happily married military people I know here in Norfolk what they believe are the secrets to finding real love. Here are their collective thoughts on the subject:
1) Stop trying. Stop pursuing that elusive “someone” who has you so caught up in believing he or she has somehow captured your heart through the cat-and-mouse game of shallow romantic/sexual desire. Stop trying to make relationships work that simply don’t mesh and basically don’t hold the potential to bring you true, lasting love in the future.
2) Find peace in your own “aloneness.” As soon as you stop trying to make true love happen, it will. Once you abandon the search for that Mr. or Ms. Right, the man or woman you are destined to spend a lifetime with will quite naturally enter your life. The question is, can you wait and have faith that mate will come for you? Yes, of course, you can!
3) Let your heart do the talking. You’ll know by the time you engage in that first conflict and see the true essence of the individual you are involved with that this is not the right relationship for you. If you listen to the voice of your heart, you’ll see these relationships for what they are- significant learning experiences enabling you to make better choices for yourself in the future.
4) Conquer your own emotional insecurity. We’re all afraid of something emotionally, whether it’s being alone, feeling unloved, risking getting hurt. We tend to escape these fears by filling our lives with a heavy social calendar, an intense work schedule, engaging in meaningless affairs. In some cases, making a hobby out of excessive drinking or drugging. Why put yourself at the mercy of such destructive escape mechanisms?
5) Take a courageous stand with your life. Commit yourself to facing yourself and your own worst fears. Once you do, the sense of personal empowerment you’ll come to feel will be downright amazing!
I’ve witnessed real love myself a few times over the years. I can say with nothing but confidence that it doesn’t come a moment sooner than it is meant to or when we yearn the hardest for it.
Love of the most lasting kind only takes shape in our lives when we are ready to receive, embrace and genuinely cherish it.
Ships and troops continue to return home from the war in Iraq. A host of single military men are storming the piers in search of a good time and companionship with the opposite sex in Hampton Roads. Dianne and other women like her are out there busy taking names and saying “Yes, I’d love one!” to the offer of a drink bought by a man in uniform, hoping to entice these men into becoming romantically involved.
Men who are smart enough will see these shallow, emotional gold diggers for what they are. Others who don’t, will inevitably learn the hard way.
The rest of these men, those who believe that Love will come in its own way and time, will choose instead to go see a movie, spend time with friends. They’re ready for Love, but they’re also intelligent and in tune enough with their own hearts to be willing to wait for it.
Dianne – and women like her – could learn a lot from these guys.