Wednesday, September 01, 2010 | 10:20 AM
Balancing Act: I Learned How to Date for Marriage
While growing up, I was surrounded by love. My mother encouraged my entrepreneurial spirit. My grandmother sang my praises. My grandfather made sure I felt secure and proud to be me. Though everyone showed me how to love, I never learned how to be in a relationship... so I taught myself along the way. For a long time my dating philosophy was to put everything on the table. You either love me or leave me alone. Unlike a lot of people, I always gave my new beaus a blank slate, which entitled them to 100% of my heart, but if they crossed me... let's just say there are a lot of deleted numbers in my phone records. That said, I like being in a relationship. Sue me. I love cooking dinner for my man, or hunting for a unique magazine that's perfect for his favorite passion. I enjoy serving breakfast on Saturday mornings and the early afternoon spooning that's sure to follow. But I also adore my career. Despite my propensity to have an omnipresent cuddle buddy, I never let being someone's "other half" consume me. In fact, I've always taken great pride in being that woman who's equal parts "Cater to You" and "Ms. Independent." Just when I thought I had it all figured out, life lobbed a metaphorical "not so fast" ball at me. I think I'm finally ready to catch it. At 26 years old, and I must add, for the first time in eight years, I was single. Silent scream. I found being on the market less alluring than going on an unlimited shopping spree on my own credit. After ending a four-year relationship I knew one thing: I was unhappy. I wanted a partner who appreciated my old school sentiments and new school career, who was sensitive enough to express his emotions and confidently able to adapt to whatever twists and turns life presented. Oh yeah, and let's not forget he needed to give me fever... at least occasionally. After a few months on the market I was a bit disenchanted by my encounters. Should I blame them or me? I went with me. After what seemed like a month's worth consecutive dateless weekends I decided that I would adapt my career approach to my dating life; I was ready to be strategic and fearless. My biggest change? I stopped talking about my career on the first few dates. Though my life as a reporter, jewelry designer and creator/blogger for www.she-blogs.com makes great conversation... I'm not interviewing for a job, I'm looking for a husband. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not for acting clueless. But I had to learn how to direct conversations toward things that would show that I'm a great love match, not business partner. Additionally, I learned to start vetting men for things that indicated they might not be suitable for me to put a ring on it. My top disqualifying quality? Insecurity. I want a companion who is as capable of saying thank you when I serve him dinner as he is of saying congrats when I land a highly coveted interview with a celeb or get a jewelry distribution deal. Balancing who I am as a partner and career woman has not been the easiest task, but it has been worth it. I enjoy being able to bring home the bacon and cook it. Infusing the lessons of love I received from my nuclear family will only make my relationships stronger. Most importantly, I understand that in order to find a man who views me as his wife, I have to act like one. Luckily, it's a role that's perfect for me.