Many years ago, I was listening to tapes (yes tapes, not CD’s) from a leader in personal development and self-growth. I think he was discussing clarifying goals and to make his point he described how he wanted to have a great personal, intimate, long-term relationship with a woman. On a train, he began to take notes with pen and paper (yes… not a laptop or tablet) and described her in every detail. He went on to tell me that he met her and married her and was blissfully happy. I was hooked. I started making a list. My list was the typical shallow needs and desires that I heard him describe and that seemed to be right there in the forefront of my mind. I could see my hunky perfect mate and he said the perfect things and I felt perfectly happy and then nothing ever really happened with that.

I met and had great relationships with a couple guys who had almost nothing in common with that list I created. We did not last forever. But that is not to imply that it was not well-worth the time it did last. One of them is still a great friend with whom I can be very honest and we touch base regularly on email. Another is someone I consider my favorite ex, because I did the most growth with him and after him, coming to terms with who I really was and who I really wanted to be. One of them was an ego-maniacal, jerk who sent me a Facebook friend request and I immediately shared the event with a friend who laughed with me at the very idea of allowing him in my life again, which would certainly be for his benefit, as everything was. Another was an ex-fiance that I rarely think of except when sharing stories such as this, and I still breathe a sigh of relief when I recall how close I was to the aisle to hell. Another was a sweetheart of a guy, several years younger than I was, who I have nothing but sweet feelings for and wish nothing but the best. As I am not given to casual relationships, my list is fairly short. While there are a couple men who could be included, such as the man I married far too young, the point here is that none of them met my detailed list of perfect mate material.

For years I wondered if that was why that particular relationship did not last. I should have waited for the guy that met my requirements. And then theoretically, I should have waited some more for the guy who met my requirements and for whom I met his. Yeah right. Because “redhead with zero cooking skills, nor household ability, but who loves to talk and share stories, and travel, and meet new people, and experience new cultures, swears like a proverbial sailor and loves good sarcasm” is a basic list for any guy.

But it would be the basic list for my guy.

However, I rethought my list of “he must:” when I heard that my audiotape guru had divorced and remarried… another perfect person.

This got me wondering if perhaps there is more than one perfect person for all of us, or perhaps there wasn’t even one. I kept my list through the years, more as a reminder to me of what to not be thinking rather than to think.

A few years ago I heard another wise leader describe finding love. He pointed out that we each knew about 50 or 100 people pretty well. So, we may see Mary and immediately convince ourselves that that is the person for us. So we ask the universe for Mary. We try to convince the universe that Mary is perfect for us, even though we really know nothing about her. The universe knows 7 billion people really well. We know about 50. Let the universe find you your love.

When I heard this little parable, I found myself laughing a little at the hubris I had displayed for years. I was certain I knew who the perfect guy was for me and yet I didn’t have him. Maybe we just need to try each one on as we come to them. Like sweaters in a mall. Lots of them simply do not have a pattern we find attractive, so we don’t even go there, even though our need for a sweater might be to just curl up in it and read a good book and sip hot cocoa. As a person who is rarely attracted to most sweaters, I make no judgments about the shallowness of determining a sweater as too ugly to try. We are what we are. That ugly sweater might be so soft and snuggly and warm… but we will never know.

Then we see that sweater that is so gorgeous and we go to touch it and it is scratchy. And it fits tight at the neck. And it is loose at the waist. And the tag is annoying against the neck. And it is hand-wash only… seriously? And we are still looking at it? But it is so pretty. I get that.

I don’t know what the answer is to finding love. Maybe we don’t find it, but we simply make it. Maybe it is not so simple, but maybe it is worth the effort.

I heard the phrase “trying to find my needle in the haystack” a couple months ago and I have thought about it ever since. He described the search as having to try a whole lot of needles and I thought how I always thought we were searching for one needle in a haystack, but that there were actually many. So, just because we find a needle, doesn’t mean it is the needle for us, or that we are the needle for them.

I still have that list from decades ago, but I’m much more open to what the universe might have in mind for me. I created a much shorter list of attributes that I think are important so that I could more easily and quickly recognize the needle the universe sends me.

Instead of describing what he looks like and how attractive he is, I simply put that he is attractive to me. He has a good sense of humor. He has an interest in the world. He is passionate about his purpose. And he is attracted to me… and he has a pulse.

That list was 3 pages 20 years ago. The hard part for me, is being ok that just because I might think I have found my needle, does not mean he thinks he has found his. But there are a LOT of needles out there. It’s ok to try a few. It’s also ok to be needle-less. I can tell you from experience that you can live a very full life as a solo-needle.

I’m curious how you have found your own needle. I would bet that the journeys are as varied as the readers and reading different avenues to success in this exploration might be beneficial to those who are still seeking. So, I invite you to share your story, steps or missteps and we can all grow from each others experience.  Feel free to comment here or at our Facebook hang-out.