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I Found My Soulmate Across a Crowded Room

And here’s how you can do this, too!

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illustration of couple meeting together amidst crowded room
Pietro Soldi
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After 20 years, I — a divorced woman who had launched three kids — had done it all. Singles groups. Blind dates. The bar scene. Community groups. Hiking. Sailing. Dancing. Fun but Zilch. I was ready to find my life partner. So, I started going to Unitarian Universalist Services, a faith that is about acceptance of all religious traditions and believing in the inherent worth and dignity of all people.

One visit, at the coffee hour afterward, my friend nodded toward two men and said, “That one is separated." “Who is he talking to?” I asked.

"Oh, I don’t know,” she responded, then left me standing alone, wondering why I was so drawn to the short, burly, bald man — in shorts! — at church, on a Sunday. Why was I not focused on the svelte, silver-haired, professorial-looking guy? But I trusted my instinct that told me: Go. The universe is calling.

Weaving my way across the crowded room, I interrupted the two men and introduced myself. The short, burly, bald man turned and walked away. Mr. Svelte and I stood there with nothing to say. No connection. Nothing. Nada.

When I got home, I was fired up over the possibility of romance. I reviewed my game plan. My goal: Be married in five years.

I’d read the books, done the counseling and reviewed my bad choices. I knew what to look for and what to avoid. Kind not clever, genuine not pretentious, respectful not derisive. Doesn’t have to dance. Likes to read. I didn’t want a Type A like the guys I raced sailboats with. Type B or C, one who enjoyed a gentle cruise, would be just fine.

I’d made my list and crafted an affirmation of what my future would look like: “I am married to a wonderful man who is respectful; has a boat; enjoys reading, walking, and fine dining.” I repeated it like a mantra when I was alone: in the car, doing dishes, staring into space. Present tense. Think of your goal as already existing, the experts advise.

I knew my bottom-line rules. Must have a sense of humor. Must not press my buttons. Gives me energy. Would be a friend whether we’re dating or not. And most important — I must like myself when we’re together. No one had cleared those hurdles in years — well, actually in forever.

Weeks went by. Months went by. I dated some. Nothing. I consulted my list. Checked off two, maybe three “must-haves.” Not enough. I revised the list. I fixed the list. Adjusted the order. Moved “loves me” to the top. Next came “shows respect, doesn’t mansplain, has similar philosophical outlook, likes a simple life.” Where would I find such a person? Then I remembered my instant attraction to that man at the service months before.

Back I went to the place of my first sighting, a place of faith and miracles. Not there. But, wait. Maybe he goes to the singles’ discussion group. I mustered up all my courage and went.

As I settled into a chair and lifted my eyes, two big, bare knees shone from across the circle. My eyes went higher. Lo and behold, right before me was — The Guy In Shorts! The burly, bald one. The universe had given me a second microcosmic moment of opportunity. Don’t blow it, I thought.

I demurred for a while as the discussion began. I made a comment or two. Got noticed. Noticed his dimple. (Not on the list. Must add.) After the discussion ended, people gathered in small clusters, one circle forming around him. As usual, the women outnumbered the men, but I was on a mission.

I elbowed my way next to him in the circle and joined the conversation. When I felt the moment was right, I looked up and whispered, “How about we go grab a cup of coffee?”

I may have batted my eyelashes.

The air was electric with energy, synergy and possibility. It swirled around and propelled the two of us out the door and off to our future. A week later, we had our first dinner date, at a quiet place with soft lighting and piano music playing. Quiet place, soft lighting, piano music playing. After we said good night at my door, I peeked through the window and saw him click his heels as he walked away!

One year later, we were married. Three decades have passed and we love to tell our story of how we found each other. We joke sometimes that he didn’t exist until I conjured him up. He came with some extras, plus everything on my list. Even the boat. Well, not the 30-foot sailboat I envisioned. But I wrote boat. Big Blue is a fine kayak.

Some years after meeting my perfect person, I became a personal life coach. These steps guided me and have helped others.

1. Make peace with the past. Free yourself from resentments, grief and anger felt in earlier relationships.

2. Make your list. Be specific. Include “single” or you’ll meet the perfect married person. If being a vegan, a nonsmoker or loving cats is important, add it.

3. If you’re dating and they are great except … stop. Remember people generally don’t change or get "better" with time. You don’t need a project.

4. Modify your list as you discover more and more about yourself. Make it detailed. Put the "must-haves" on top.

5. Read self-help books about finding good relationships. Google it. Make sure you include Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization. It’s still available.

6. Create an affirmation. Repeat it like a mantra in the PRESENT tense when driving, when in line at the grocery store and while waiting for Uber or for the movie to start. If you can imagine it, put yourself out there. It can happen!

7. Once you meet the person who matches your list, ask yourself if they fulfill the three musts:

a. Must make you laugh.

b. Must not annoy you easily.

c. Must give you energy. Not drain you emotionally.

8. Check off two critical questions:

a. Would this person be my friend whether we’re dating or not?

b. Do I like myself when we’re together? Does this person bring out the very best in me?

That’s it!!

Happy conjuring.

Did any of you ever feel an instant attraction in the same way as the author of this essay? Let us know in the comments below.

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