I'm going to make some of you uncomfortable. And some of you will completely discount me for doing this.
If there is anything I have found to be true, it is this. The value in finding exactly what you want is usually less than the value gained by being open to discovering things you never even considered. If you're single, and don't want to be, you have hopes and desires on the table. Hopes to find connection on many levels... physically, emotionally, intellectually.
But....are you letting past experiences guide you? Or are you letting them narrow your focus so much that nothing becomes possible?
I've asked myself that time and again over the last 14 post-seperation/divorce years. Here's what I've discovered after a lot of work and a mountain of mistakes.
Romance? It's the kids who have it right, not most of us. The young recognize what it is to make a friend. This "friends first" nonsense? It isn't even necessary for them. Making friends is a function of being alive. A dog knows how to do this! We forget this, and hide behind such euphemisms as "friends first" or "I'm only here for friends" and even that whole nonsense of "friends with benefits".
The truth of the matter is all THREE of those ideas are about as unfriendly as you can get, because they are steeped in cynicism. And although some of that cynicism is directed towards others, most of it is about ourselves. We are all damaged goods in some way, but you do not have to succumb to damaged thinking.
What the young lack is NOT experience. A child knows how to love. Hell a cat knows how to love! And it takes almost no time at all to develop friendships and even love....if your heart is open and you let it.
Is it? Can you?
What do the young lack that we posess then? All they lack is the stability of adulthood, which is way more about investments in time and learning how to live, than it ever is that overly used nonsense we call "maturity". Maturity is just the bulls*** story we tell ourselves.
Romance is not for the timid. Caution is a waste of time. Common sense, and heeding lessons learned however is not. They are distinctly different things.
Every man is not a crazy creepy violent stalker. Every woman is not the embodiment of my worst relationship experiences either. The human race would not be this far along (nor would there be so damn many of us) if that were even remotely true.
When we have bad experiences, we overvalue them.....because we're afraid. Worse, we often see and here about terrible things on the news and in social media and CONFUSE things that happen around us with things that could happen to us. They are not the same thing. The world is a messy place. But nowhere near as messy as you believe.
Friendships/dating/relationships are childishly easy...if you can find common ground, and have that kind of courage.