On opening to love (again)

On opening to love (again) | SusannahConway.com
As this is the second time I’ve done this — replied to a letter from a reader with a blog post — it might just be the beginning of an occassional series. Sometimes I have more to say than a quick email reply can hold. Turns out I have a LOT to say about this particular topic…


Dear Susannah

I am alone for 8 years now, and last Christmas I decided to start looking for a partner. It did not last: after two nights out I realised I was not attracting men, other women were so much more beautiful than me, and most important, I didn’t like the superficial atmosphere and people discussing shallow subjects. In my years alone I had started to appreciate myself, love myself, and after those two nights I started being nervous again, and strangely, I started feeling like something was missing in my life (prior to that I had succeeded in seeing myself complete and enough). So I stopped going out and stopped dating and now I feel better, but this way, how can I meet someone?

Dear Michelle

I feel your pain, honey. I believe to be contentedly and consciously alone — single in a world that prioritises coupledom — we have to shut our hearts down juuuust a little. Not a lot, mind. We still love our family, our friends, our selves, our pets, our passions and our purpose, but in order to not lose our minds when yet another wedding invitation arrives or another acquaintance announces her pregnancy, we have to power down the “relationship” portion of our heart. It’s protection — and a sanity-preserver.

So when we feel ready to get back out there and find our mate, we must open our heart to possibility again, and that hurts. It only takes a little knock to want to shut down and declare “it’s not for me”. But it’s like going back to the gym after a few months away. Your muscles ache for days because you’re out of practice, but after a few sessions you ache a bit less and muscle memory kicks in. It gets easier. The aching is less severe (but still there if you’re doing it right).

It’s the same with our hearts.

We crack them open again and they ache. We put ourselves out there and they ache. We get shot down and we ACHE. After a few knockbacks we have a decision to make: Do we trust our heart’s resilience or do we shut back down and stay safe? I did that 18 months ago after a big disappointment and decided to take a break from dating. I consciously powered down the relationship portion of my heart and sank back into my relationship with me. Wisest thing I could have done.

So here I am on my third attempt at opening my heart to love. The received wisdom seems to be that he’ll show up when I least expect it — but as I say to friends, I’ve been least expecting it for the last 10 years! Working from home makes it harder to bump into eligible men so once again I’ve turned to online dating as a way to get some practice.

And yes, for those of us who are used to spending quality time alone, stepping out into social situations filled with small talk and superficiality can be a challenge. Why are we even bothering, we wonder to ourselves, as yet another evening is “wasted” in the company of yet another mismatch. We could have been at home reading ;-)

And yet. Maybe it’s all the meditation I’ve been doing, but this time around I’m approaching dating with a much calmer and philosophical head. I’m staying open to meeting different sorts of people and managing my expectations better than ever. For example: last week I managed to write myself down off the ledge in just under an hour. Dating triggers all my vulnerable stuff, as it does for most of us, but as I’m feeling more centred I’m able to notice when the old stories flare up. Rather than believe they are the Truth I’m able to shine light on what’s really going on — FEAR. It always comes back to fear.

After journaling out the stories and my reactions I kept writing, and it was this next sentence that I’ve now underlined ready to be employed the next time this happens:

“Remember who I AM, not who I am not.”

It’s so easy to wish we were someone else. That we looked different or “better”. That we were more out-going, or quieter, or whatever it is we mistakenly think we “should” be to be more desirable or successful or accepted or [insert desire here]. I have done so much work around this, and yet it only took a few weeks of online dating to be swept up in the should stories… until I realised what I was doing and stopped myself.

The right person for me will fit me as I am, not me as I wish I was. He won’t be perfect, he’ll have his own stories and issues, but somehow we’ll help each other feel more like ourselves.

Last night I helped my step brother set up his dating profile. As we filled out the details and did a few cursory searches, the conversation turned to what he’s looking for in a partner. My bro is a sweet caring guy who works hard, keeps fit and loves his family. He definitely wants to have kids and feels ready to be in a relationship again. Reading through one girl’s profile we noticed she was into the theatre.

“Do girls expect you to do all that?” he asked, “because it’s not something I’ve ever been into.”

“And that’s okay!” I said. “She’s just not the girl for you.”

We found other profiles that were a better match, including one girl I INSISTED he write to, she sounded so great. Hearing D share his concerns was such a gift, because it reassured me that men worry they won’t measure up just as much as we do. “You’re looking for the girl that fits YOU,” I told him. “And I’m looking for the guy that fits me. We only need one.”

And that, I feel, is the key. We’re not looking for a string of Mr/Ms Rights. We’re looking for that one person who feels like home — and who doesn’t make us feel crazy. Even better: their crazy complements our own.

So the challenge remains to dial our expectations down while staying wide open to possibility. We have no control over how and when we will meet our match but we can make sure we’re in a good place in ourselves when they arrive. Every date is an invitation to meet another human being where they are in their journey. I continue to learn more about what I want in a partner — and what I don’t want, too — with every date I have. Every time I want to close back down I think to myself: “Open heart! Open heart!” and picture a rose opening in my chest. I may have to do this several times a day when I feel impatient with the process.

I accept that there will be some discomfort and I know that it will ultimately be worth it. I know I can survive rejection, heartbreak, disappointment and pain. I know that I am deeply happy on my own. I also know that by opening myself to a new relationship I will find my world expanded in ways I’ve forgotten are possible. I welcome that with my whole heart.

So that, dear Michelle, is how I’m surviving the dating game. I’ve been on some lovely dates with some great guys who might not ultimately be a match but it was still fun to get out the house… and I wish that for you, too. Play the long game, knowing that you’re going to have to kiss a few frogs and endure some stilted conversation along the way. There will be disappointments and dramas, missteps and mistakes, but remember that we are here to experience life as fully as we can, and this new-fangled path to love is a key part of it.

Trust that your guy is looking for you too, and that the only way you can meet is by bravely taking your open heart out into the world. Trust that it will be worth it.

Yours from the dating trenches,

Susannah xo

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Something for the weekend

Something for the weekend | SusannahConway.com

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A Word of the Year check-in

A Word of the Year check-in | SusannahConway.com

We’re fast approaching the middle of the year so it feels like the right time to check-in with our words. Did you pick a guiding word for 2015? If you did, has it made any impact on how the last six months have unfolded?

My word for this year is NOURISH and it’s honestly been the most dynamic word choice I think I’ve ever made. I suspect it’s something to do with how intentionally I chose it in December — this has always been quite a nourishing practice for me (pun intended) but this year it’s been especially transformational.

NOURISH helped me heal after the surgery in January. It inspired me to sign up for a 100-hour yoga immersion (which I loved). It brought reiki into my life (must share that story one day!). It’s informing every decision I make about the new website, and, perhaps most interestingly, it’s helping me approach online dating with a more relaxed and open attitude this time around.

NOURISH is looking after me in so many ways and I’m loving it as much as I did when it first occurred to me last year. For context: I’ve had a few years where I struggled to remember what my word was about this time!


I should mention here that I don’t spend my whole day meditating on my word, obviously, but I have noticed I ask myself “does this feel nourishing?” more often than not. It’s like my word choice has created a through-line I can follow and is having a positive effect on so many parts of my life I’m wondering if I should adopt it for 2016 and beyond.

It may be that your word has been slow to have any effect but now the year’s well under way you’re  noticing the wisdom of your choice. It may also be that you weren’t ready to pick a word in December but now feels like a better time to choose.

And if your word hasn’t felt like the right fit, what not choose a different word for the last half of 2015? Or pick another word just because you can.

Gift yourself an hour this weekend to read through your Unravelling the Year workbook and see where you are with those intentions you sketched out. If you want to choose another word — for whatever reason — the free Find Your Word mini course is still available over here. I plan to work through it next week to see if any extra words make themselves known :)

How have your been getting on with your word(s)? I’d love to know xo

Something for the weekend

Something for the weekend | SusannahConway.com

The secret life of passwords

[video] How to meditate “Talking about meditation is crucial. Not talking about meditation is like the ocean losing the moon’s gravitational pull. All the dolphins die.” I love JP

I’m just a shot of whiskey—not for everybody. — read this from Dani

You’ve probably seen this already but I’ve been wondering what I could spend 100 days making… (plus this)

Maya Angelou’s beautiful letter to her younger self

How awesome is Baddie Winkle?

“With two young sons, Silas (five) and Arlo (three), my emotional life is ruled by the untenable condition of being hopelessly in love with tiny people who are too young to understand that they’re slowly killing me. At no time has it been more important to be mature, and at no time in my adult life have I felt less capable.” — I also love Jason

How to cook artichokes | pea, mint + feta fritters | mojito cheesecake

And finally, if you’ve taken a course with me you’ve probably emailed with my lovely VA, Nita, at some point. She’s sharing all her heart and know-how in her new toolkit: Say It With Grace AND she’s offering my peeps a $60 discount — just use the code susannahfriends15 anytime before May 31st!

Happy weekend, loves xo