All this talk of flow was fairly hypothetical for me for a long time. I loved the idea, but had yet to have an experience that truly brought it to life for me. That recently changed, I'm excited to report, and the lesson of trusting in the divine timing of the universe instead of trying to force something was made extremely clear for me. Here's my (love!) story...
As a single 27-year-old I left my busy downtown Vancouver social life and moved to the secluded 8,000-person “village” of Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island, a place that doesn’t even have a proper traffic light, let alone any spots with promise of connecting me with quality romantic prospects. I ignored this depressing thought and stayed committed to the move out of the deep feeling of knowing I had that it was right.
Like most single millennials, I had tired a slew of dating apps and online dating sites over the span of a couple of years, most of them ending up a complete waste of time. I instead chose to keep coming back to savouring my time having complete independence and frequent sleepovers with my best girlfriends, something I knew would one day be rare. Despite more and more friends finding themselves in committed relationships, and increasingly frequent notifications of engagements, weddings, and babies popping up daily on my Facebook newsfeed, I really did have complete trust in the timing of the universe, and I knew that my forever person would come into my life when both of us were ready. I clearly needed more time for self-exploration and learning, and I committed to doing exactly that.
Not long after my move to Shawnigan, however, I felt extremely isolated. I longed for friends and a few nights of my week that didn’t involve me at home actually Netflix and chilling with a bottle of wine as my companion.
So what did I decide to do?
Download Tinder, of course.
I wasn't necessarily even looking for a relationship, but simply some basic human connection.
Over the course of one week I met a different guy every day (including one standout who met me barefoot downtown Victoria, wanted to go to the park to hacky sack, and told me he is firmly against texting and sugar – NOT going to work). Not only did I come away with zero desire to see a single one of those men again, but the whole process just felt so unnatural and draining.
It felt majorly forced.
Never again, I promised myself. I just knew it wasn’t how I was going to meet “the one.”
I vowed to carry on doing me, grateful for more free time to pursue things I never quite managed to get around to doing in my former life in Vancouver, where I always had a range of social activities as tempting distractions.
Well, soon after, a friend invited me to a little get together at the home of "two awesome brothers" just 5 minutes from my own because she knew I was in need of new friends and fun. They had also just moved to the area.
Turns out zero expectations and a little red wine is the perfect combination, and I totally hit it off with one of the brothers, Chad. I hadn’t called someone my boyfriend for six years, and within about six hours of meeting him it was basically a done deal.
No playing hard to get, no trying to keep our options open by simultaneously dating other people, none of the games I was used to with guys in Vancouver, and absolutely no forcing.
We were mutually and fully in from the start.
So. Damn. Refreshing.
I have reflected many times on how this is such a stark contrast to some of my other experiences with dating that have been the absolute epitome of trying to force something that clearly wasn't unfolding naturally, but I was driven by superficial reasons...
I cringe admitting that there were nights a few years ago that I would be happily tucked into bed, eyes heavy and just about to turn off the light, and then find out that a guy I liked was out at a particular bar nearby (or sometimes not so near). I would fight what my body was saying (“GO TO SLEEP YOU IDIOT, THIS IS ABSOLUTELY STUPID”), get out of bed and put a fresh face of make-up onto my just-washed face, and take off to the bar, all because of the slightest possibility that maybe he’d not have been flirting with someone else all night.
Ughhhhhh. Who was that girl?
My plan sometimes worked. But even when he would give me that special attention I craved I was usually jittery with nerves, overthought every word, heart racing and hands clammy. Attractive, I know.
It couldn't have been farther from easy or effortless. But I ignored the signs. I was drawn to his status, good looks and charm, and fancy car and apartment. If that doesn't scream PURE EGO I don’t know what does. I was so caught up in pursuing these things that I was blind to the fact that although he may have had fun with me from time to time, the truth was that he didn’t give two shits about me in the long run. He had no desire to get to know me to the depths of my being, to support me, to be there on my best and worst days.
I'm mortified now even thinking about how I appeared to him or others around, my plan probably less secretive than I imagined at the time. Pathetic, right?
Chad and I have now been together for a year and a half (yay!). Not only did I not have to sacrifice my sleep and self-respect to get his attention, but I didn't have to pretend to be someone I wasn't. I have been my most authentic self from day one, and although he sometimes teases me about the amount of time I spend researching new festival attire online or laughs when I show up to a movie date wearing a fluffy rainbow cardigan, he accepts me fully and I know he actually respects me greatly for not being afraid to be 100% me. He supports my free spiritedness and embraces my silly ways, and that is the greatest gift that someone could give me.
Our relationship has been so incredibly reciprocal, largely easy breezy lemon squeezy, and just the most massive source of fun and support. I love his family, I love his friends, and mine love him. Our lives just naturally jell. No force.
There is not one second where I doubt how much he adores me. I don't have to grasp for his love. I don't have to mask my true self to keep him around. It truly does just flow, which reaffirms the strong sense of knowing I have within my physical body that it is right.
I have had to accept the words people had been saying to me for years about romance, despite my total disbelief of them as a girl: “When you know, you know.” It just seemed impossible to truly know for certain. But through studying intuition I’ve learned and experienced firsthand that you can come to know fairly quickly, even about massive life decisions like who to spend your life with, by tuning into how your body feels. We just tend to make it way more difficult for ourselves by staying in our heads way longer than is ever good for us, when we actually have a magical compass inside of us trying to guide our way.
Funny story: After adding Chad to Facebook after meeting I realized that I had actually seen him during my week-long experiment with Tinder, but hadn't swiped right because his first pic (albeit cute of him) was him with a dog. I was definitelyyyyy no dog person and had no desire to become one. In fact, it was basically a deal-breaker for me previously. I've read often that if you pass up an opportunity that you are destined for the universe will work its magic and find a way to open that door again for you in the hope that maybe you’ll have come to your senses and jump in the next time around. That appears to be exactly what happened here, and for all you dog lovers out there I'm pleased to say that both Chad and his darling dog Wayne have won my heart over. I actually recently just dog-sat for 10 days while Chad was in Asia, which is nearly impossible to believe for anyone who has known me well. I guess I came to my senses after all!
This story isn’t meant to brag about my relationship. Rather, this relationship has finally allowed me to truly experience firsthand the difference between force and flow, which means that I'll now have a much better idea of what to watch out for in other areas of my life. Hopefully the same goes for you.
It is so human to want the perfect job and the perfect partner and the perfect home and the perfect bank account, and to want it NOW. It is so damn hard for us to loosen our control and trust that everything will come to us when it is meant to come to us, and the only responsibility we have in the moment is to follow joy and intuition.
Sounds simple, doesn't it?
Forcing indicates ego and an act of control, whereas operating from a place of letting happen (flow) is an act of spiritual surrender.
We will all be so much better off by deciding to trust in the divine timing of the universe instead of settling for decent right now because we feel we're behind schedule on the traditional markers of success (partner, house, dream job, etc.) and everything we think you should have achieved by now.
Patience. Patience. Patience.
We cannot see the grand plan of how the universe is conspiring to bring us all that we desire and all that will bring us genuine happiness in life. Trusting allows space for things to unfold effortlessly and more brilliantly than what we ever could have imagined.
For those of you still waiting for your big love, it will come to you when it is meant to come to you. It can also happen quickly and effortlessly in the blink of an eye. Like it did for Chad and I when the stars aligned, we instantly clicked, and we were mutually hooked (and have been since). It was the right time for us both to meet, and so the universe made it happen. Thank you, universe!
Promise me that you will not waste a second of your precious time forcing unnatural relationships for the wrong reasons like I did. And when some awesome new love does enter your life, remember that it does NOT need to come with drama, emotional manipulation, or putting up with unacceptable behavior just to have it be great the rest of time. Of course there will be challenges and natural ups and downs in any great relationship, but the idea that struggle is an inherent part of love is a myth. If it's a struggle it's not the right person.
In her article "Wait for the Guy who Makes you Realize why it Didn't work out with Anyone Else" Lauren Jarvis-Gibsons writes, "And once you find that person who just gets you and everything that you do, you’ll understand. You’ll finally understand why it didn’t work out with your high school boyfriend or your college sweetheart...You’ll finally understand that everything that you went through, ultimately led you to this person. And you’ll be grateful for all of the pitfalls and losses. You’ll be grateful for all the times you felt unsure or lost. You’ll be so grateful for the times when you didn’t settle. For the times when you said no. For the times you waited. Because one day, this guy will walk into your life and everything will just click. And everything will feel right. And you’ll be home.”
Whether you're single and continue using dating apps or not doesn't actually matter. But commit to nurturing relationships (both romantic and otherwise) that flow, and saying goodbye to those that involve force. Only make time for people who embrace you for all your wonderfulness and your weirdness.
And never, ever settle.
You were not given this gift of life to do so. The universe has much greater plans in store for you.
I know it does.