I mean true dates from hell. From the brotha taking me to a funeral to the IHOP disaster that led to dude walking out on the check, I have been through it. So after the 50th disappointment I made a half-hearted proclamation,
“I don’t want a man anymore. I resolve just to be a free spirit and travel the earth.”
That’s what I told myself days before my 31st Birthday. The truth was I was beyond frustrated with the dating scene, so I planned my first solo trip, my first plane ride, and my first time out of the country all in one. I was going to Jamaica. Stella was going to find her groove. The trip was partially crafted in defiance of the “settle down and be still until he finds you” discussions I’d recently had with family and friends. The “if you do everything now what will you have to experience with husband?” argument annoyed me. It fueled my resolve. Every Instagram post was earmarked #travelismyboyfriend.
However, I secretly had a newly revised January 2015 husband character list that was extensive and specific. I suppose deep down I was always a hopeless romantic, though my “emancipated from patriarchy” banner waved high and free (and still does for that matter). It started when I was a little girl. I obsessed over a scene in the action movie Face/Off where John Travolta runs his hand over his wife and son's faces as a way of saying, “I love you.” I was 12 when I first saw the movie but I asked God, “Let me know when I meet my husband, because he will know what it means when I run my hand over his face like in ‘Face/Off’.” I would test this theory with every man I dated from that time forward, but I never found one who knew what it meant. I thought God thought my request was silly. However, with my new found preoccupation with greeting blue water and white sands for the first time I put dating and marriage thoughts on the back burner.
Two days before I left for Jamaica I was hitting the delete button on all of my online dating profiles. Just a few months before I’d cast a wide dating net. My failures in the dating scene definitely wasn’t for lack of trying! I had SEV-ER-AL dating sites poppin’. I went to after work mixers, joined new social circles, and paid for a local gym subscription. Everything I read on lifestyle blogs and Demetria Lucas (of Belle In Brooklyn) told me to do to put myself in the optimal atmosphere of being ‘chosen’ chile’, I was doing it!
But the fish that bit weren’t it. So, two days before my departure I gave up trying force a meeting with Mr. Right. I was about to click the delete button on my last dating profile when a brother with a great lonely dimple and a teddy bear face popped up on my screen. After much internal debate, I dismissively sent him one line, “I like your face.” 11 hours of conversation later, we’d agreed to meet for a first date. He was amazing, but there was no time for boo loving! I was leaving for Jamaica the next morning.
While in Jamaica, I met God at sunrise on the beach with prayer. I ate my way into a frenzy. I climbed waterfalls, rode camels, trod through the sea horseback. I also talked to – we will call him Teddy - every day I was there. When I returned home, he was waiting for me. I’d find out that we went to the same college the same year. We had a mutual friend who never introduced us. We danced around each other for years! But I still needed a direct sign. One night after a really deep conversation about God and family on a jungle gym in the park, I decided to try the spirit. I ran my hand over his face as I’d seen in the movie Face/Off.
I swear I saw a shocked look on his face and my heart starting beating fast at the prospect of him actually knowing what I just did. So, I swallowed my nerves and asked, “You don’t know where that is from, do you?” He answered me, “Yes, Face/Off.” I held my breath. Then he said the sweetest words I ever heard, “And Danielle, I love you, too.”
Well baaaaabbby, six months later and not a single day apart I didn’t hesitate to say, “GRACIOUS GOD YES!” As the girl who thought she would never get married marches her way to the altar, there are three important things I learned on my journey.
1. Approach Dating Like a Traveler
I stopped caring. I’m not saying go out without brushing your teeth, but I was carefree on my first date with Teddy. I didn’t have an expectations because I was too high on the fact that I was leaving the country the next day. He said from the time he turned on the car radio and I started dancing, I eased his nerves and he was hooked. Being your authentic self will draw your match to love the whole you.
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Still, I approached dating as if I was just passing through, which translated as mysteriously confident and not overbearing desperation. I didn’t translate our first date into “is this my husband?” as I had countless times before. I remember laughing until I snorted, which would have been my kiss of death on any other date. But with Teddy, I was no longer worried about impression. I was free. Being you is your greatest asset. You want him to be attracted to the authentic you because otherwise he’d commit to a fraud.
2. Your List May Be Flawed
I have written about how I wanted what my girls and I called a “suit”. Translation: a corporate brotha who is the smooth, briefcase toting type. It definitely wasn’t my wonderful ex jock who has opened my car door every day since I met him. I almost missed out. Your list is FLAWED and if you only accept what’s on your list, you will get EXACTLY what you ask for, but it may not be what you need.
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I watched an episode of Black Love on FYI, where Monet Bell (a former wife on Married at First Sight) said she wanted an “old fashioned” man. She got what she asked for. She married a man who wanted her to cook, clean and raise the kids. It wasn’t what she was looking for and it wasn’t until a therapist corrected her word choice that she realized her mistake. “You want a gentleman, not a man with old fashioned values.” Sometimes when we write or verbalize what we are looking for, we are asking for the wrong thing. Be open and flexible to the fact that your list may have flaws and allow him the space to evolve just like you are.
3. You Will Know
People will say a host of things. “You need to date for two years to be sure. You don’t really know someone until you live with them. You have to wait for the honeymoon period to wear off. How will you know if its infatuation or love?” Joining your life to someone else is a commitment. I’ve met people who’ve had arranged marriages and have lasted for 50 years. In a world that puts more value on chemistry than commitment, it’s easy to get caught up in the Whitney, “How Will I Know?” track and never be convinced or satisfied. The truth is there is nothing that can change the mind of a man or woman who is committed to commitment. Commitment yields consistency and consistency builds trust. There is also a gut feeling. The same gut feeling that makes you hold back from completely trusting, Mr. Wrong is the same gut feeling that catapults you forward in knowing Mr. Right.
When I gave up searching for him and traveled to learn more about myself, I met my him by accident. When you embrace the unique and divinely made person that is YOU, it attracts all the things that are dancing around your door. LIVE intentionally and love incidentally.