by Karen Y Hamilton, September 26, 2017

A relationship is “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.” Google

Entering into this single world at the age of 54 has been an enlightening experience for me. I am finding that familiar words that I thought I had a clear understanding of are rather transient and tend to drift around in meaning depending on who you are talking to. What is the meaning of a relationship? Just what does dating mean? What does girlfriend or boyfriend mean? Aside from the obvious denotative meaning…a friend who is a girl…a friend who is a boy. Sounds rather silly when you are 55 years old, doesn’t it?

Everyone has a different opinion about what defines a ‘relationship.’ We debate the term ‘in a complicated relationship’ on a Facebook thread. Well, seriously, aren’t they all complicated? Hell, isn’t life itself complicated? So just what is the deciding factor in whether you are ‘in’ a relationship or not? And here I have to ask myself if it even matters that it is defined at all.

The Oxford dictionary defines a relationship as “The way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.” Isn’t that what we all are looking for in the first place? A connection. Notice that ‘connection’ is not elaborated upon. Now we have to define another word. Or maybe not. I suppose we all have our own ideas of what is connection for us; it is a highly subjective word.

Our egos want us to be ‘the only one.’ I, most certainly, just coming out of an extremely ‘complicated relationship’ with my ex-husband, find myself searching for a partner who will gaze moon-eyed at me like he did. Even he would laugh at that one and say, “Reality gets in the way.” Because that is the reality – we can never be the ‘only’ one in another person’s life. Not in the sense that our fragile egos crave anyway.

My friends tell me to keep my heart open and the perfect man will find me. That sounds nice. Unrealistic, but nice. What is perfection? Ah, another sticky term with multiple definitions. Perfection is not what I seek. Because I am far from perfect myself. And that of course depends on that definition again. I want to say that perhaps I am ‘perfect’ for someone out there, but even that is unrealistic to me.

Do I really want a man who thinks I am perfect in every way? Hell no. What is the challenge in that? I would much rather find someone who pushes me to new heights, dares me to move out of my comfort zone, shares in my journey to become more and more. And that is what I seek as well. Someone who does not think they are ‘perfect,’ someone who is ready to embrace all the imperfections and throw caution to the wind in a wild dash to live fully this imperfect life.

So, just what is our rush to lock it down? Be ‘in’ a relationship. My theme this year – not exactly of my choosing, but what the hell, it is working – has been ‘let it go.’ So this I am learning to let go. The need to accept what society urges – this need to be ‘in’ anything.

My therapist told me to write a list that contains all of the qualities I seek in my ‘perfect’ partner. Those of you who have tried online dating will find this familiar. I struggled with that damn list. Because as I wrote it I realized that my ‘perfect’ partner more than likely has a list of his own and odds are that he would not find all of his items in me. At 55 years old, I have plenty of imperfections – physically and emotionally. This concept of the ‘list’ is unrealistic to me, too pat, too ‘perfect,’ if you will.

So, I’m gonna skip this whole dating thing. Just live, ride the wave, breathe, etc. I am rather enjoying just being. When it comes to finding someone to share it all with, I prefer the lightning bolt approach. I’ll know him when I find him (or he finds me). The stars will burn brighter, the air around us will be charged, and reality will pale compared to the ‘connection’ between us. And none of this defining will make a bit of difference. We will just live, complete with all of our imperfections. I look forward to having fun with him, arguing with him, debating the complexities of the universe with him, loving him. And however that looks to the outside world, will be how I define ‘relationship.’