Love is a weird thing we so deeply crave and desire and need, yet – in it or after it – we rarely allow ourselves to acknowledge the harder self-truths which exist alongside it. Love is full of such hard truths; truths which are obscured by our own insecurities, muddied self-conceptions, our egos, and our need to remain lovable to those we are with, or to those who may one day venture into our paths.

In other words, taking ownership of our half of the shit is the last thing any of us want to do when it comes to relationships because we simultaneously have a need to know that we’re always still lovable.

But… Ugh.

Those truths are so fucking valuable to get cozy with. They shouldn’t be feared or disguised or buried. Every one of them is a lesson which, if learned with integrity, will add such richness and passion into our relationships with the right people down the road, as well as with the people we have in our lives right now. In every relationship, big or small, lasting or temporary, romantic or platonic, parent or offspring, the invitation to learn life’s most valuable lessons is always extended to each of us, if we’ll just let ourselves go there.

I learned so much from dating each of these women. I learned that I cannot and never will be able to predict the future of any relationship. What beautiful thing I may share with one person today can so easily – and at any point – go down in surprising flames, leaving love behind as only an overly-ripened aftertaste to whatever it was the two of us were once enjoying. I learned that whatever good thing I have going right now – with anyone – could last a week, a month, a year, or it could very well last the rest of our lives. There are no guarantees in love. Ever. And being okay with that idea sets me free to love without ridiculous boundaries in the times that I do happen into it.

Women. Dating. The need to be loved and the need to give love to others. The desire for true intimacy. The journey to be comfortably known by another person. None of it is a game for me. It is, and always has been, an ongoing and sincere expedition full of bewildering life lessons, extraordinary self-discovery, and deep introspection.

What I have learned over the years about this thing called love, and relationships, and by dating so many pretty ladies, and of sex, and of happiness, and the laughter, and the tears, and of all of it really, is this…

Life is ultimately better with the right person by my side at night, and life is ultimately worse with the wrong person there as well.

Love is not actually the challenge. For me, the true challenges exist in seeking out, finally finding, fully trusting, and holding onto the right person amid all the seemingly unending turbulence that life loves to mix into the whole of it.

He thinks the people he dates are disposable. He doesn’t appreciate love and he’s not willing to work for it when he finds it. He gives up way too easily. He is never satisfied with what he has. He doesn’t care who he drags in, and who gets hurt along the way.

To look at my love life from the outside, it would be so natural and easy to come to any of those conclusions. I know this because I have been told all of these things either by family members, friends, and most often by my readers after any relationship comes to an end. How could they not come to such conclusions? I don’t really share any of the intimate details of my break-ups. Those particulars are mine, and I have no desire to muck them up and grind them down by passing them around to people who don’t have any business knowing them.

The real truth is this. I have – and always have had – sincere hope that I’ll one day find my lifelong someone.

I do.

I also believe that only time can confirm to any of us what our futures will look like, whom those futures will include, and whom they will not. The more we try to control our outcomes, the more those thoughts begin to control us.

I have no idea if I will have found love or be with someone when you, dear reader, pick up this book.

I can’t predict the future. No person can prognosticate lasting love. All we can do is size up the past, do our best to appreciate and understand the people we love, and make the best decisions we can moving forward. We must learn to appreciate what and who we have by our sides, continually seek out the important things we feel are missing, and be content with so much less than perfection, both in ourselves, and in others.

So often we seek for happiness in and through romantic love. I have come to believe this is a great mirage in a vast desert of uncertainty. Happiness is the sweet siren which shows us that which we think we want, and always delivers us something else, far more destructive, altogether.

No, I no longer seek happiness in my quest for love. I seek contentment. I seek to be at peace and fulfilled with so much less than a fairytale. I continually search for the person who will come to understand me, comes to deeply knows my flaws, and then accepts me alongside those flaws and that understanding. I search for that person who will somehow learn not to hide her true self from me, and who trusts me just as fully with her own set of shortcomings. If I can find that person, I know I will be content.

I also do not seek happiness when I am alone. I seek contentment in those times of my life with even more fervor. I continually attempt to understand myself, to come to deeply know my own flaws, and to accept myself alongside those flaws. When I am alone, I search for that version of me who will learn not to hide his true self from himself, and who will trust others with his own set of shortcomings. If I can find that person, I know I will be content.

And if I am content, happiness will simply exist. It will exist automatically and with no further effort on my part, whether it’s paired-up with someone or completely on my own.

Dan Pearce, from my book: The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man

Last Chapter: A Traumatic First Kiss

Next up:And Then I Looked In The Granola Box…

If you would like to start from the beginning, or catch up on a missed chapter, you’ll find all the chapters I’ve published so far by clicking here.

Of course, this book is for sale on paperback, hard cover, or as an e-book. If you find yourself unable to live without a copy, I would *so* very much appreciate you ordering one. You can find it on Amazon here (paperback and Kindle). Or hardcover here. Or Nook here. Or iBooks here.

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Dan Pearce is an American-born author, app developer, photographer, and artist. This blog, Single Dad Laughing, is what he's most known for, with more than 2 million daily subscribers as of 2017. Pearce writes mostly humorous and introspective works, as well as his musings which span from fatherhood, to dating, to life, to the people and dynamics of society. Single Dad Laughing is much more than a blog. It's an incredible community of people just being real and awesome together!