Meet Blanca. A 48 year old powerhouse of a women who has a zest for life mixed with Jersey spice. As part of our #IamTrueNorth series, we are showcasing women who have incredible stories and are owning them by being vulnerable enough to share them with all of you. To us, that is a symbol of strength and confidence. We feel that if one women has a particular story to tell, than others must be going through something similar and we can all learn from each other’s experiences.
This is Blanca’s story:
In her early 30’s she found herself on a date with someone unexpected. At the time, she was not looking for a relationship. They got along and one date lead to another and before she knew it, they were in a full-fledged relationship. They were going out to dinners, dancing, traveling; all the things she loved to do.
About 4 years in, things started to fall apart. Relationships aren’t always about the love and fun stuff you experience together; you also need to be able to talk to your partner about values, goals, finances and other important things that matter, like marriage and kids. When she realized that things weren’t progressing the way she had envisioned, she knew she had to leave but kept feeling guilty about it. He was not a bad guy, he did love her, and she couldn’t find anything bad in the relationship or specific to blame the relationship falling apart on. But yet it was hard to leave because they had spent the past 4 years building a life around each other. She had to ask herself “Is this making me happy?” and the answer was no. It’s so hard to get the confidence to leave when you know you’re not happy but you can’t really answer “what went wrong.” In most cases not having something concrete to pin it on can make it harder to let go and have closure.
Understand Your Role In Your Pursuit Of Happiness
After getting out of a long relationship, it is important to take some time for yourself to heal and to grieve the relationship. You need to tell yourself it’s ok to walk away from a relationship that wasn’t going in the direction you wanted it to and don’t be afraid to be alone. You need to acknowledge who you were during that time and also decide who you want to be and work on moving forward so you can open your heart to someone new. Each relationship teaches us something new about ourselves if we are open to taking the time to learn it. These lessons can help us realize patterns and help us avoid making similar mistakes in the future, breaking the dating cycle we often find ourselves in.
Following the breakup, she spent about 3-4 years spending time with friends and family and focusing on herself. At this point in her late 30’s she struggled with dating and being alone for so long that she started to wonder “Am I going to be single forever?” She decided that “it is what it is” and while it would be nice to have a partner, she knew her life would move forward no matter what and she will figure out how to live life without one. She took this time to really get to know herself and be honest about what she was looking for and what would make her happy, and to be grateful for what she did have. She had her health, a great job, a home, supportive friends and family, and she liked who she had become. She knew she was a catch. Even if she didn’t have a special person in her life, she still had special people surrounding her and had everything she needed to take control of and create her own happiness.
Ask For What You Want
By her early 40’s, she entered the dating world again and it was terrible. She wasn’t having much luck and was giving guys way too many chances and dating them for longer than she knew she should. She found herself within minutes of meeting a guy doing what most women do: sizing up his marriage potential and asking herself, “Hmm, could he be my future partner?” She started reflecting on why she kept repeating these habits and knew she needed to break the cycle. She wasn’t finding love and what she really wanted out of a partner and life. She was meeting men who didn’t know how to take care of themselves or have the motivation to grow their life in positive direction. There was a time when she thought the lack of effort was a reflection of her when they didn’t change despite all the time and effort she was putting into the relationship. She felt that she lost a little bit of her self-confidence each time she allowed the wrong guy into her life and the relationship didn’t work out. It was then she came to understand that you cannot change someone. From that moment on she knew she had to make her intentions clear when she started seeing a new man and not be afraid to tell them what she was looking for in a partner. She also had to learn to not be scared when she didn’t get what she wanted; she took that as a sign that it wasn’t her door to walk through with that person. To help figure out what she did want, she needed to “check a few boxes” that showed the guy was in a good place and matched up with her life - things like having a job, his own place, his own interests, his own group of friends, and strong family relationships. She also knew she had to decide what her deal-breakers were so she could hold herself accountable. She had to be honest about what was important to her, not anyone else, not based on other people’s relationships, not based on the standards of others, but her own standards.
Don’t Fear The Single Life
After that realization she decided to take a break from dating to soul search, relax and let things come together naturally. She started doing more things on her own and found she really enjoyed doing things by herself like taking long car rides or trying new activities. She focused on her health and relied on her strong relationships to help her talk through everything she was going through on this self-reflective journey. It was during this time, years after her big breakup, that she became very self-aware and was able to see that the whole time her and her ex were together, he was telling her in his own way that he was never going to marry her. She realized that at that point in her life she cared for him so deeply that she was willing to overlook what he was telling her and kept thinking that she could somehow change his mind and fix the relationship. He was telling her and showing her exactly who he was and what he wanted but she didn’t listen. She came to see that his issues were not hers to fix and she thought back to when they broke up and how much of a relief it was that they did not get married. She didn’t realize then, in that moment their relationship ended, that she would eventually feel so much better about it ending. It was with the help of her support system that she was finally able to fully let go and move on.
She spent her mid 40’s dating and getting into a few short term relationships. But deep down, she knew that she wasn’t in it for the long haul with these men. Sometimes when you are in the thick of dating it’s hard to remove your emotions to see clearly and before you know it, you’re in a relationship. You need to do a self-check early on and ask yourself “why are you going through this effort if you’re not interested” and move on so you don’t waste anyone’s time. She knew she had to take responsibility for her role in these relationships. These men weren’t keeping her in a relationship, she chose to stay for her own reasons even if her gut was telling her otherwise. She wanted to be open and give these men the opportunity to be themselves as well, and be honest about what they were looking for in a partner. At times, she only let go when she was really ready to, which was usually after a lot of energy and time was wasted and that was something she knew she needed to work on.
Trust Your Gut
A lot of women do not “go with their gut” and when they don’t, love can get ugly and complicated. She knew she wanted to live with someone, marry them, and have a life together, and in her gut she knew that these men were not right for her. She had to find the strength and confidence to end these relationships that were not fulfilling her emotionally or in line with her life goals. Sometimes you can’t always get what you want and when you don’t, you have to be adult about it and simply walk away. That is one of the hardest things you will ever have to learn to do, to trust your gut when things aren’t working and let go of something even if you don’t feel ready to or want to in that moment. One way you can help psyche yourself up for getting the courage to makes these kinds of decisions is to have a mantra. She had a mantra that she had kept on a post-it at her desk for 15 years and really turned to it during this time to help remind her that good things are worth the wait. “No matter how dark the moment, love and hope are always possible.” She doesn’t remember where she read it, but that mantra served as a reminder to keep pushing forward and not to settle for anything less than true happiness.
It wasn’t until she was 47 that she met her current boyfriend, Todd. She met Todd on a dating site, and right before she was going to delete her profile, he caught her eye. They matched, they talked, and they agreed to go on a date. At this point in her life, she knew exactly what she wanted and she was going to put it out there and be unapologetic about it. On the first date everything seemed so natural and easy with him – they shared values, had similar yet different interests, and he was motivated in life. By the third date they were talking finances and she was checking off all the “boxes” she knew she wanted in a partner and wasn’t finding any deal-breakers. She had made her intentions clear and while it was hard, she asked him if the things that she wanted out of life were the same things he wanted. They were.
It was only from those life experiences and time spent on self-reflection that she was in a good place where she knew what she wanted, could ask for what she wanted, and be sure enough to trust her judgment that this was a good guy and potential life partner. She was no longer afraid to talk about important matters, like moving in and the future. Sometimes love takes a little bit of time to come along and at 47, when she asked herself “Is this making me happy?” the answer was yes. “He makes me a better person, he adds value to my life, but most importantly he allows me the space to be exactly who I am.”
If she had to do it all over again, she wouldn’t change a thing.