At the age of forty something, I had a string of broken relationships behind me. I'd made errors that, at times, felt like meteors crashing into my life, unfortunately they crashed into other peoples lives too. I found myself juggling a broken family, work commitments and balls. In between I searched for someone to share my life with, someone to love, or something close to it.
I've lived a 'first world' consumer life, with all the trappings of unrealistic expectation. Advertisers didn't just influenced my choice of toilet paper, they influenced my value systems. I consumed millions, of crazy visual 'love' representations. Via billboard ads for washing powder, television shows about loved up private I's and distorted representation of physical intimacy. Not to mention online dating's virtual relating, romantic comedies crazy ‘happy ever afters’ and articles about how to be, or find the perfect partner.
All these influences have 'coloured' my relationship desires. If I didn't feel as happy as the couple on T.V, couldn't give multiple orgasms, or was unable to make 'light' of my hapless, romantic misadventures like Adam Sandler, then I concluded that I must be doing something wrong, right?
Some might say this predisposition to exist in consumer fantasy, said more about my tenuous link to reality, than it did about the influence of our capitalist culture on my expectations. But if that's the case, then surely I wouldn't have been surrounded by equally disenchanted friends.
Up until not so recently, I'd striven to acquire the skills, knowledge and looks that would increase my chances of finding ultimate love, well, I semi strove, in a half arse'd way, like most of us do.
I deceived some dates by not sharing details about my minimum income. The same is true for my age because in fantasy land the people with youth and money get hot girls. I told dates I 'worked in computers', when it was still cool to say that, it's not anymore.
I purchased Hugo Klein’s best aftershave, the one that makes very attractive women fancy average working class men. I attempted the impossible, by trying to balance classic macho confidence, with modern sensitive new man. This is like stroking a kitten, whilst clenching a ten inch hunting blade between the teeth. No one was convinced either way, especially me.
I briefly joined a gym to acquire physical perfection. I soon realised getting a great body was hard work, supplements alone didn't cut it, hard graft was also necessary, so I left the gym. After a bout of 'zero action' I joined another gym, then left again. Joined a third and eventually stayed long enough to achieve something amounting to muscle.
All the hard work had the desired effect, I caught the eye of a fellow gym goer, disturbingly, he was an ex East End villain with homosexual tendencies. I discovered his intentions when, halfway through a set of fly’s, he leant forward and squeezed my testicles, I left the gym, haven't been to a one since.
Eventually I quit the conventional dating scene for the alternative scene. 'Alternative' is code for people with poor boundaries, values, character or all of the above. I thought this world might be more 'real', but it's not, it's equally influenced by mythical and unrealistic expectations. Swap porn for tantra, then swap tantra for polyamory, then swap your wife, husband, or partner for whoever you want to shag. Swap aftershave for essential oils, romantic comedies for equally rose tinted movies, or books about counter culture, lastly swap jealousy and insecurity for jealousy and insecurity.
I opened my mind and chakras, flaunted my chi. I dated clairvoyant, hippy, poly, bi sexual and lesbian girls, lots of whom were borderline pathologically psychotic, a bit like me. I wore shirts that had colours I'd never heard of, swam naked in rivers and floated equally naked in communal mud baths. I improv'd my way through dance, drama and more-gasm workshops. I drank gallons of mediocre chai tea, when I could have been drinking Melbourne's great coffee. I professed relationship anarchy, I even married myself in an attempt to discover my inner man, even though I was already a man, well sort of.
At the time I believed these workshops were about enlightenment, but have since discovered some merely exist to support individuals desires for sexual deviance. I was left feeling cheated, distrustful and suspicious. I learnt a basic truth, one I should have learnt as a child. Don't trust people you don't know. Trust is earn't and should not be given so easily. In the 'alternative' world it is given away far too quickly.
After my conventional and alternative dating disasters, I consciously quit the search for a fabulous relationship. Stopped looking for unrealistic, mythical love, stopped striving for what I thought I should be and began to accept myself as I was, a less than perfect, broken humanoid. Albeit one who’d taught himself some good values and boundaries.
I began to settle for a life of limbo, unable to find love in either realm. Just as I started drafting my resignation letter to cupid, sod's law showed up. I met someone and things began to fall into place. With this woman, I didn't have to do or be anything I wasn't. She loves and holds my vulnerability, in the same way she cherishes my strength and beauty. My darkness was accepted, her response to my imperfection was humanistic care and understanding, as opposed to the punitive selfishness I was more accustomed to. Neither of us had to do, or be anything that we weren't. The reason our relationship worked, had nothing to do with expensive perfume, porn techniques, or where the planets were in relation to our sock drawer. It worked because we were committed to putting each other first, to building a sacred space, one where communication, honesty, hard work and integrity were a priority and they still are.
So my one hot tip is totally unoriginal, but it is worth revisiting occasionally. Here it is, look for someone who accepts you as you are, holds your light and dark with respect and love.