How I found love (and why you won't like the answer)

For a long time, I didn't think I would ever find love. I didn't even know if I believed in it, honestly. It was something that other people experienced, and I just....well, didn't. It was a hard pill to swallow. I started to see my friends pairing off - and jealousy started to creep in. Why didn't I have a boyfriend? I thought if I just tried harder, I could get one. And so I tried. Man, did I ever try. For years, I chased after guys....usually the wrong guys. It never got me anywhere.

Until, one day, I just decided to stop. For years and years, I'd spent all my time and energy trying to get men. I'd gone on countless online dates, trying desperately to jam two ill-fitting puzzle pieces together. I'd done OKCupid, I'd done Tinder, I'd done clubs and bars and meet-ups. I was exhausted, and I was done. I was...yes, I was doing me.

I hate that saying, "It'll come to you when you least expect it," or "It'll come to you when you're not trying," or whatever variation your mother told you. But, for me, it was true. My now live-in boyfriend, my favorite person in the world, walked in when I had waved my white-flag of defeat. And he came from a totally different place than I ever would have expected.

I've thought long and hard about this. Why? Why at that moment? Why, after years of searching, did he come at a time when I wasn't grinding for love.

Here's what I've come up with.

1. I stopped trying to impress other people - namely men. I was just myself. There weren't really any pretences. It was very take me or leave me. If a guy didn't like me, it didn't matter because I wasn't looking to be with him. Then, when the right one came along, he wasn't "blindsided" when the real me came out...because he'd been dating her all along.

2. I went out to socialize to just....well, yes, just socialize. Before, when I went out, I'd scour the scene to see who was available. Instead, I went out to talk to people. I wanted to experience things and people and places. Through this, I opened doors and made friends....and through those friends, I met my boyfriend.

3. Related to number 2, because I was in a good place mentally/emotionally, I could very easily tell what a guy's intentions were. If I wasn't interested in what he was interested in, I told him to move along. It was very easy to tell that my boyfriend was a good guy when I met him, simply because I could step back and evaluate him from a non-insecure place. It made a big different.

4. I kept my standards high. Because I wasn't just looking for a boyfriend to have any old boyfriend, I knew what I wanted. I wasn't chasing any guy who gave me attention any more. I was going to wait until the guy came to me...and then wait to see who he was, before wasting my time on him.

5. And yes, my time was precious to me. I kept my hobbies, friends, and myself a priority. My boyfriend came second for a very long time. I never skipped out on my friends or plans. My plans could have included going for a walk by myself...but damn, if I wanted to do it, then I'd do it. My boyfriend made plans with me days in advance because he knew if he didn't, I probably would be busy doing something else.

6. I didn't sweat the texting. Never once did I say, "Why haven't you texted me back?!" or blow up his phone. If he didn't respond, I shrugged it off and went and did something fun or interesting or engaging. Why? Because he wasn't the be-all and end-all of my life. I had other things going on. Often, that would end up with him sending me a few texts in a row asking how I was, etc.

7. I was positive and happy. After serial dating ad nauseum, I started to grow bitter about men. I was tired of the "k" texts, I was tired of the "who's going to pay, do I owe you sex now?" game, I was tired of the showing up to an awkward blind dates where the guy looked nothing like his picture. And so, when I stopped for awhile, I started to get back my bubbly personality. I stopped reading websites online that were negative towards men. I tried to stop being as sexist and stop with all the, "All men...." sentences. I tried to surround myself with good men (as friends), and give men the benefit of the doubt. When my boyfriend walked into my life, I was more than ready to accept him.

Because of all of these things, my boyfriend found me. Does that mean we don't have problems and issues? Nope. But it does mean that I chose someone with my eyes wide open - and I chose someone who makes my life better in every single way. I didn't settle for someone who only wanted me sometimes. I didn't settle for crumbs. And I did that by focusing completely on myself.

So, I guess the cliche holds true. Do you, live your life, and keep those eyes of yours open. Wide open. So when someone good walks past you, or up to you, you can see them for who they really are.