31 January 2005

Single...With Children: Finding Mr./Ms. Right

Single with Children: Life more rewarding with a companion

Publication Date: 07/10/02

I appreciate readers who shared their own stories after reading my most recent column about the sometimes lonely business of single parenting. It means a great deal to me when you relate what is going on in your life and how you resolve the problems you face.

Some of you who responded had inspiring stories of finding love the second (and in some cases third) time around. I loved reading them. Like many of you, I also dream of someday finding the right fit and having another chance at "happily ever after." I think we all know that life is more rewarding when there's a hand to hold. I just don't believe that human beings ever outgrow the need to share love, affection and attention. It is basic to our nature.

Of course, actually finding "the one" can take a rather circuitous route. Some of you have written about finding the right person almost instantly. Many have shared stories of more than a few dating disasters and are still tenaciously working to find "the one." Every path is unique.

If there was a common thread in all of the feedback, it was that ever-elusive quest for "the one" - two simple words that define what we're all searching for. When speaking of "the one," many of us affect a kind of dreamy look in our eyes because we know that nothing less than "the one" will ever do.

Some folks wrote and asked if I had any idea where this creature might be hiding? In other words, where does "the one" hang out? It reminded of me that series of children's books where the object of discovery was a lad named Waldo. Sometimes the books were quite clever, and I had problems searching out Waldo long after my kids had found where he was hiding.

So where do single parents go when they have some precious down time? The first thing that comes to my mind is bookstores. I can't help but wonder if some of the folks cruising the aisles might possibly be "single with children" and looking for something to engage their attention until "the one" walks into their lives. I don't know if you've noticed, but I see a lot of traffic in the "self-help" section, and at times there are a lot of people sitting one to a table at the bookstore cafe. Is it a sign? Is destiny drinking a decaf?

Church is another wonderful venue for possibly meeting the object of one's affections. Naturally, we go to church to connect with like-minded, spiritually focused fellow worshipers, but many churches offer programs for people who are divorced. While you might not meet the next love of your life, you might just make some very good friends. The good news is that we can never acquire too many friends, so there's nothing but potential positives. How many things can you say that about? It sounds like a win-win situation to me.

If you can't locate anything interesting in the weekly list of community events, why not be bold and start something? And it also should be noted that one doesn't have to be single for long before a good friend can no longer resist the urge to arrange a blind date. Believe it or not, many solid relationships have started this way and have even gone the distance. If it's a friend you truly trust, you might not want to be so quick to think up an excuse not to take them up on it.

Which brings me to my next suggestion. Computers. It's probably not too surprising that many people are now meeting via the Internet. Sites like Match.com or similar matchmaking services are gaining wide acceptance and apparently many folks are enjoying some success in discovering like-minded companions online. When you think about it, the whole idea makes a lot of sense. Our schedules and responsibilities don't always allow us to take off on the spur of the moment for a date, but most of us can find the time to read or write an e-mail at the end of the day. For a fee of around $24 a month, you can post a personal ad and, in the most minute detail, describe everything you are looking for in the form of a rather personal list of likes and dislikes, including the distance you're willing to travel and a thousand and one other preferences. Many subscribers post photographs or wait and trade photo files with people they've made a "written" connection with and find worth pursuing.

Like everything else in life, there are no guarantees. Sometimes you find what you're looking for in the last place you imagine. Chance encounters still happen, and they can't be scheduled.

It's a little too easy to sit home and just throw up your hands and feel that the love boat has sailed on by, but just because it's easy to give in to such negative thinking at times, doesn't mean it's true. Prayer, family, friends and maintaining an open, optimistic outlook make each new morning a possibility that something surprising and unexpected might cross your path before the sun sets. If, on some lonely evening you can't find a single thing to do, take a walk or make that trip to the bookstore. At the very least you might find an exciting new bestseller to capture your attention. And who knows - someone feeling a lot like you, might just be sitting alone in the cafe and having coffee. Stranger things have happened.

If you have any other suggestions or personal stories to share, please feel free to e-mail me with what has worked for you. If it's worked in your life, chances are it just might be the ticket for someone else.

Readers can e-mail Susie Parker at Susiewrites@gmail.com or write to her c/o Amarillo Globe-News, Features Dept., P.O. Box 2091, Amarillo, TX 79166.

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