‘The Man’

“I would be complex, I would be cool
They’d say I played the field before I found someone to commit to
And that would be okay for me to do
Every conquest I had made would make me more of a boss to you
I’d be a fearless leader
I’d be an alpha type”

–Taylor Swift, The Man

So, I ‘m a 50-something, free-spirited chick who loves Taylor Swift; in fact, so much so, at one point, my sister Jen and I were talking and she sardonically said, “You’re the Taylor Swift of The Huffington Post.”

We both roared.

I’ve belted out Shake it Off, Delicate, Blank Space and really related to We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. It makes sense that when her new song “The Man” came out, Spotify would immediately let me know. I LOVE it and I’m on my 54th play.

I relate to Taylor’s intrepid spirit, her fierceness and her “in your face” response to her love life, which she sings about, a lot. This latest song points out that if she were a man, her love life and business acumen would not have the kind of scrutiny she regularly gets. (In fact, there’d likely be no scrutiny!)

Needless to say, The Man hit a feisty nerve in me and millions of other women — national magazines, e-zines, blogs & Twitter all lit up about Taylor’s loud and clear “double standard” message.

Now, I’ve written about “conscious dating” for a while, mostly to offer a healthy, discerning voice to women, conveying messages of empowerment I don’t hear as much as I would like to. In my view (along the lines of The Man), we women deserve to date until we find the right person to commit to. Hard stop. That’s it.

We deserve to have what we desire in love and not one shred less. I also feel we, as women, can help each other by actively supporting each other, by respecting both our choices and our gal-pal’s choices, and (perhaps most importantly) encouraging each other to tap in and listen to our instincts, our inner voice’s guidance, as opposed to focusing on the end game of “getting hitched.”

In other words, Girlfriend, you deserve your guy, not some guy.

I’m speaking out, because I feel I have the strength to withstand the tremendous amount of social pressure women so often get directed at them. I’ve been single for a lot of the past five years, though I’ve had a few relationships that offered a lot of healing opportunities . . . but nothing that felt “right” for any length of time. Along the way, I’ve withstood the slings and arrows, one after another: “You’re fickle, too picky, a serial dater, a professional dater, noncommittal, a man-eater,” etc., etc.

The truth is, I’m deeply romantic, and I believe in real love, the kind you go to the mat for. I also believe in having what you want in love and not settling for less.

For me, when things didn’t go beyond a certain point in dating, I was also interested in understanding why, so I could shift my course and not have a repeat performance.

During my heavy dating phases after my divorce, I did a ton of personal work and healing to figure out: a) what drew me to the Mr. Wrongs or “very nice frogs” (as I often refer to them), and b) what I needed to shift in me to resonate with someone more healthy for me. (I went this route, because the common denominator in this equation was me and I only had control over my portion of these relationship attempts.)

I believe in soul mates, but I also believe in “wound mates,” a concept I learned from author Jeff Brown, in his book, The Uncommon Bond.

The idea is we can subconsciously seek out people who will reenact our old wounds, as an opportunity to heal them. I believe the more we heal, the more we move along our path and the closer we can get to healthy, sustainable love, if we desire that.

To paraphrase bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert, I was intentional to “harness those wound mate scenarios for transformation.” For me, it was doing Imago therapy with an amazing therapist and EMDR with a great clinician, all to unearth my old wounding and clear it out.

I believe it’s also helped that I’ve taken several extended breaks from dating and done work to “reset the system” in all sorts of ways (e.g., a P-3 workshop, some energy work and shamanic healing).

Plus, I’ve created a very detailed sketchbook of the characteristics of my ideal man, including: “warm, kind, wise, conscious, loving, similar values, family oriented, stable, emotionally mature, fit, active, entrepreneur, spiritual, strong, raised on a farm or a ranch, eclectic, bright…” It’s an entire book filled with the attributes I want. I’ve written in it for years, noting things I like and reversing things I’ve come to no longer resonate with.

I’ve also dated a lot, I mean… a lot. And I’ll be honest, it shocked me how quickly I met someone after a big healing/reboot last year. I had settled in for a bunch of one- or two-date experiences, but maintained a flame in my heart for meeting someone “special’ I’d be drawn to.

I was on multiple dating apps and met some very nice people, but my radar had gotten very honed for what fits. I remember dating a very nice “frog” who honestly stated on our first and last date he would “Never do that again.” The never he was talking about was LOVE. Um,… Yikes!

When I passed on him, a well-meaning friend suggested I “give him another try to see if you could be the one who would change his mind.”

This was not the first or last time I would hear some version of that. My answer then and today is: “Why? Why would we do that??? Why would we settle for one ounce less than what feels right??!!”

Because there are “not enough men”?? Baloney! Because “we’re running out of time”?? Double baloney!

So, I kept moving forward… with an open heart and a sense of fun for meeting new people. I stayed busy in yoga, hikes, my family and digging into things that interest me.

And then, I met “The Texan.” What a fun, easy, exciting and effortless first date we had. We talked, closed the place down, and as he walked me to my car, he asked me out for the next weekend. (This is how it’s done guys, BTW.) We had a second date and a third, and we had a blast!

I dug out my ideal man notebook at one point, because he kept hitting on key points that are important to me: I was stunned he was a LOT of it, like wow, most of it! So when he asked me to date exclusively, it was an easy choice and still is.

We are active, we talk for hours, enjoy our families, have similar life goals, and I respect him immensely, which for me is a foundational aspect of a relationship. One thing I really appreciate about him is he values my dating experience (it’s actually very similar to his) and understands that my time “playing the field” (as Taylor Swifts says) helped heal me and forge my strong identity as a woman.

So, we’re living it and it’s fun! And I’m enjoying this ‘process.’ I’m stunned, though, at how central that becomes in conversation:

“How’s the guy?”

“Great, he’s awesome.”

Then the inevitable: “Is he the one? Where’s it going? What do you think? Do you want to live with him?”

Easy, cowgirls…

I know it’s cultural (still). I mean, there are three “bride” magazines and zero “groom” magazines. But ladies, I think we can do better, regarding integrating the dating experience and “living it”!

I’m really drawn to him, he’s very cool, fit, gorgeous, bright, a sweet dad and granddad, sharp in business, fluent in spiritual concepts that matter to me, conscious (way), a Triathlete, which I love and reveals a lot about his character. The list goes on.

The fact is, I’m open to a long-term relationship/marriage AND I want it to be with my final and divine right partner. That, to me, takes time… and there is no substitute for seeing how someone reacts as life evolves. In my case, life threw me a strong curve ball very early in our courtship: the most important person in my life had a serious health fight. His reaction? Strength, empathy, kindness, support and love for me and my family. He also helped me stay moving when I wanted to climb under the covers and eat. He was and is strong under pressure and a rock of support. Check and check.

Ladies, there’s nothing specific for us to “do” when we date — it’s for us to “live” with the foundational belief that we deserve our true love, and we deserve our highest good. Period.

And if, instead, we blindly race to the “finish line,” I believe it can blunt our senses to obvious orsubtle, yet important, disconnects.

Here are some questions to ponder as you journey forward:

Is he right for you? Is the relationship growing? Does he walk his talk? Is it even? Do your love languages work? Has he done some healing work? Is he beyond his ex-wife/ex-girlfriend? Does he make you feel cherished? (A girlfriend once asked me this question and I pondered it for 24 hours, and then broke up with the guy I was going out with — it’s a GREAT question.) Do your values line up? And do you sincerely respect who he is?

In closing, o’ Intrepid One, yes, I believe in love. I also believe we as women can benefit from slowing down, defining what our hearts desire, and staying the course to have and enjoy that.

Photo: Shutterstock