How To Believe in Love Again When You've Given Up

couple, happy
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There are these beautiful, easy moments when I walk through New York City, admiring the sun cleverly carving its way between the buildings, and noticing all of the happy couples, walking hand-in-hand, carrying Trader Joe’s groceries and black bags filled with wine, where I think to myself: “Wow. Love really is everywhere.” And then there are the other six days and 23 hours and 55 minutes in the week. OK — I’m exaggerating, but as a woman who has (grudgingly) been single, it can be hard to believe in love when I open up your Facebook feed after spending the day at the beach and see that three new friends got engaged — and the only thing I got that day was a sunburn.

Believing in love, like believing in anything that you can’t control, define or predict, takes practice and a hell of a lot of faith. Especially if you’re in my shoes, where you’ve spent years dating and having three-month things here-and-there, but never anything spectacular, it can be really hard to exercise that goodwill bone. It can be easy to conclude that finding love is something that everyone else does, and not something that will come your way.

I dare you — as I dare myself — to dream a little bigger. And hope a little more about the love that will find its way to you (and to me!) one day. If you need some help believing in love, when you feel like you’ve given up (and it’s given up on you) — here are some tactics that I employ:

1. Read A Damn Good Love Story

To be a writer, you must be a reader. And while I definitely am a follower in terms of my reading habits (Facebook status updates often dictate what I download on my Kindle), I’ve found that when I’m feeling like love is miles away from me, reading about a fictional love story can help me dream a little brighter. Even better? A non-fiction love story. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed is a great place to start.

2. Change Your Inner Dialogue

When I found out an ex-friend of mine from college was getting married, and I knew that she wasn’t, well, the best person in the world, I was a little more than frustrated that she found love and I didn’t. Jealousy happens to everyone — I’m definitely not immune to it — but if you can switch your inner dialogue to be more hopeful than hateful, your mood will instantly be boosted.

Instead of wondering why someone didn’t text you back, change your thought process to be about where you’re going to meet someone new. And if you see sweet couples on the street and roll your eyes (inwardly or outwardly) — try and be happy for them, and take it as an indicator that you’ll have the same thing (or an even better thing) one day.

3. Go On More Dates

It might seem counterproductive since statistically-speaking, most of your dates won't all be good ones — but if you let one bad date experience keep you from meeting anyone for drinks for weeks, then you’re only selling yourself short. It’s so easy as a single person to stay cooped up in your apartment, swiping away without actually meeting anyone face-to-face. The only way you can actually meet someone you’ll care about is by putting yourself out there and giving them a chance. You can’t believe in love if you aren’t an active participant in its game.

4. Practice Self-Love

Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it all before (and I know you’re tired of hearing it, I am too) — but when I’m kind to myself, I’m kinder to everyone else. I’m a happier person. I’m more fun to be around. When I feel like the best version of myself, meaning I’m taking care of my body and my mental health, then I’m frankly, a better date (or possible girlfriend) to the people that I meet.

If you’re always putting yourself down for never being good enough (or pretty enough or young enough or whatever enough) then people will see you, just as that. If you constantly remind yourself of what makes you special, unique, and highly-dateable, then that’s what people will notice when they meet you.

5. Live Right Now

I’m 27, and while that might not seem old to anyone who lives North of the Mason-Dixon live, where I’m from in North Carolina, it feels like everyone else has a gaggle of babies by now. I don’t worry so much about meeting someone right-this-very-second, but most of my anxiety around dating comes from thinking about where I’ll be next year. Or five years from now. With so many claims about female fertility and scary statistics that I read (and write about), the biggest thing to remember if you're single and you want to be in an LTR, to get married soon, have kids, or anything else, is that you can’t control a damn thing about it.

My mom always says that joy is found in the moment, and while that’s tough to stomach when the moment means sitting across from a date you’re definitely not into, being present and mindful will make you happier than analyzing the future that hasn’t arrived yet.

6. Remember Why You’re Single

If you truly, really only wanted just ‘someone’ to fill up the empty space next to you in bed or just anyone to spend the weekend with, then you’d have someone. Finding a body to be a boyfriend or girlfriend is really easy, but finding a partner is hard. It takes a lot of weeding through the duds to find the diamonds, and because you place a high value on your self-worth and what you want out of a future relationship, you might have to spend more time alone. This doesn’t make you less worthy, less desirable, or less deserving of a great love because you haven't found someone yet. If anything, it means you’ll you are brave enough to wait for it. Now, you just have to have enough courage to keep believing that when it’s meant to happen, it will.

Images: ljubaphoto/E+/Getty Images; Giphy