Single on Valentine’s Day? Searching for your life partner? Stop. Find the right you, first.

Single on Valentine’s Day? Searching for your life partner? Stop. Find the right you, first.

Looking for that Mister or Miss Right? Wondering why another Valentine’s Day rolled around and he or she wasn’t there? Read on and comment!

I’ll begin with an aside:

I laugh when I realize that it’s a FULL TWO YEARS after my decision to write a daily journal in Evernote (the digital note-taking app in which I’m writing this blog) that I actually follow up with my second post. I could say this means that Evernote is not, in fact, the best place for a daily journal, but a more true assessment would be to conclude that such a gap of time is simply a consequence of me being not the best journal writer.

Moments like these I realize I’m not in my first conundrum regarding journals, or writing, or romance, or life.

But I think the bigger realization to me right now, on this, yet another Valentine’s Day, is that it might be time to withdraw, slightly, from what has been my consistent and persistent search for a mate. I’ve always been a romantic, I love to flirt, I love the fire of a new relationship, and I really like people. And as I’ve grown into myself, my career, and my talents, wooing the ladies has become, well, easier.

Yet I think that a slight withdrawal from such an enticing search is perhaps the best move I can make if I want my life to change for the better.

My romantic life is probably not that odd, after all

My romantic life (as a single man) is probably a lot like any other single person’s (we all think we’re so special and unique, but such thoughts are likely just efforts to fuel our own egos). I find that my romantic situations in life have most often been some mixture of the following polarities:

Either I’m playing the field of attractive, interesting women in the world, or I’m actively pursuing one of them.

Either she’s into me, or she’s not.

Either I’m into her for the right (lasting) reasons, or I’m not.

and finally…

Either I’ve stacked the cards in my favor; I’ve found someone who is accessible, emotionally and/or geographically, or I’ve not.

In the latter case in which I haven’t stacked the cards in my favor, I’m often romanced by the difficulty of the situation, subconsciously thinking that the lack of accessibility (emotional or geographic) adds to the challenge and thus increases the romantic payout should I be successful.

But the truth is, even when all the things line up in my favor, there’s a discomfort that rears its ugly head when I get close to commitment.

Commitment is scary, but not the problem

Just to be fair, when the opportunity for commitment comes around, most of us realize that our lives would be irrevocably changed were we to commit. One’s life will always change with commitment. And that’s ok! Commitment is about a joining of lives, a sacrifice of options, and it’s often exactly what’s needed to create a lasting, healthy, monogamous relationship with another person.

And when I DON’T stack the cards in my favor (when I find women who are not geographically available, for example), the choice to commit will change my life in even larger ways (the realities of a long-distance relationship, the eventuality of one of us uprooting our life for the other, etc.)

Those are big changes. Again, not wrong. Just big.

But there’s this other change, this less obvious change, that really scares me.

I’m not yet the ME I want to be

It’s the realization that by committing the resources necessary to the relationship (time, emotional energy, money, etc.) I am very likely losing the opportunity to create the life I want for me, first, before bringing someone else into it. I’m losing the chance to change, to grow, to actually achieve what I want to do in life (or at least take the right steps to start the process), because I’ve, for so long, placed the search for a relationship first.

This is, perhaps, my biggest fear. Both in relationships and without.

The truth is, I’m not doing, in a daily way, what I feel I am meant to do in life; those things which, with their very doing, release inside of me a fountain of energy and into which I can pour hours as if they were moments.

I’m not consistently doing those things that bring out the best in me.

Such passions are different for all of us, and I hope you know what yours are. For me, they are writing, creating and performing music, making art, talking philosophy, and learning and speaking the languages of the world. They’re the same topics for which I created this blog, five years ago.

And I don’t do them enough; that’s the problem. The number of articles in this blog is proof. One article, written five years ago, exploring the difference between linear and non-linear thinking gets over three-thousand visits per month. I’m serious. Google “linear thinking” and I’ll be at the top of the list. As a marketer, I know that’s not easy to do. And yet, until now, I never followed it up with another article.

Ultimately, I’m not pursuing my passions to the degree to which I’m meant.

I can feel it in my bones.

Living on the full rush of energy

Were I to dive into my passions I would, as Joseph Campbell puts it, “live with godlike composure, on the full rush of energy, like Dionysus riding the leopard.”

How do I know this?

Simple: I know how these passions make me feel when I pursue them. And I know how I feel when I don’t.

And again, to some extent, I AM pursuing them. I’m learning French. I play in a band. I get to write and create and philosophize at work. But in general I’ve been too lazy and too scared to make the real changes. To dive in. Me writing right now is more than I’ve written in a long time, and it’s the beginning of something new.

I hold myself back from those big dreams because I’m caught up in the smaller pursuits, one of which is the “search” for a mate. Others include making more and more money, maintaining my social status, refining my looks and expanding my possessions. To be even more honest, I hold myself back from my big dreams for fear of what others think, and for fear of losing the status I’ve built in my smaller pursuits.

Fill up your jar with the stones

There’s the metaphor of the jar. A jar can be filled with stones and appear full. But add pebbles and you’ll realize there was more space to fill. Then add sand and you’ll realize there was even more space. Finally, add water and you’ll realize that now the jar is indeed full.

But the additions of elements can only work if you add them largest to smallest. If you’d added water first, you’d never be able to add anything larger without overflowing the jar.

The jar is representative of life (or perhaps of the limited amount of time in life we’re given). Fill your time with all the trivial things first (pebbles, sand, water), and you’ll never be able to fit in your true goals and passions (the stones).

Have I been good at living life like this? Not really. I forget, on a daily basis, to fill my jar with the stones first. Every minute on Facebook is a minute I could be spending on something meaningful. Every movie I watch is two hours in which I could have been creating music or art or studying language.

What makes YOU feel like a god?

Sure, you can take issue with my choice of priorities, how I rank what is trivial and what isn’t. And your passions may be wholly different than mine (I don’t expect you to love languages or performing like I do). That’s natural – we’re different people.

I only ask you to honestly ask yourself one question:

What in life do you do, from which you come away feeling relaxed and yet energized, feeling accomplished but not egotistic, feeling inspired and at peace, feeling godlike?

For me, it’s languages and music and art and writing. Few other things leave me in such calm rapture. What are yours?

The other things in my life are phantasms, trivial ghosts that trick me into thinking they’ll be fulfilling. Sipping rye whiskey after a hard day’s work is nice, but it leaves me uninspired to create. Watching a movie or checking what my friends are doing on Facebook are very rarely as fulfilling as listening to or making music. Flirting for the sake of flirting is exciting, but it’s just an ego boost.

Trivial, when compared to the big passions of life.

And worse, these trivial things often actually ADD to my discomfort, to that feeling that I don’t have enough, that I’m not enough, that I need more and more.

Why I continue to do them is a testament to how powerful our minds are; how much we rely on our thoughts and brains (biological patterns conditioned by our life’s experiences) to make our decisions. That’s a topic of another discussion, but it’s true.

The right partner will fit your passions

Finding a life partner should not be considered a trivial aspect of life, but I have a growing suspicion that it simply happens when it happens, and one’s real goal is to be as authentic to oneself, to have created the most authentic life possible, such that the addition of a life partner will be the addition of a person who truly fits you at your best.

Conversely, find someone who fits you at your worst, or you at your most trivial, and you’ll soon realize that it’s even more difficult for you to change into that person you truly want to be, because you’re with someone who wanted you for who you were when they met you. They won’t necessarily want you to change, and you won’t have the resources to do so when you realize you’ve been inauthentic.

Instead find yourself, find your passions, and create your life in the image of “the grandest version of the greatest vision” (as Neale Donald Walsch so loves to say), and you’ll be ready to find that person who accepts you not just for who you are today, but for who you truly strive to be.

In conclusion

If you’ve gotten this far, you may think I’m struggling. The truth is I’m in one of the best spots in life I’ve ever been: increasingly accepting of life and of who I am (as much as any of us can really know who we are), and I’m more willing than ever to pursue that grand vision, following my bliss. I just tend to think in words, and I hope that by opening myself up in a public way, others may see themselves in me (as I’ve seen myself in the many others from whom I’ve learned throughout my years).

In the end, Valentine’s Day is about love, and the expression thereof. I’m in love with life and those around me. I’m blessed to be here, and I hope you feel the same.

~ Cecil “Chuck” McCumber

PS. I just moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting professionally, and my band’s self-titled debut album, “The Pretty Unknown” was just released!

What kind of music is it?

It’s like if Taylor Swift was the surrogate mother for Michael Bublé and Sarah McLachlan’s love child. Then they raised the child listening The Beach Boys and The Beatles. That’s a technical critique.

So if you’ve found the above article at all entertaining, please considering listening to some of our songs. If you enjoy, we’d be eternally obliged if you supported our music by sharing with your friends or, better yet, buying an album. Take a listen!

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  1. Thank you for sharing that with all of us brother! It sounds to me that we share a lot of the same vision, and consequently, the same struggles. We definitely could encourage each other in our pursuit of (godlike) happiness, as it were. Be peace.

  2. Thanks Liam! I think we all struggle with mostly the same fears, and the fear of sharing our thoughts in an open and honest way is one of them. Thus, we go through life thinking we’re alone (we like to think unique, but it’s the “alone” that’s scary). All in all, happy to have connected with you!

  3. I think the attitude you describe is a very healthy one to say the least. It is difficult to derive “true” meaning in life if you don’t pursue your passions as well as find meaningful ways of expressing yourself. Which I think people desperately want to do these days. However, for you to relate to others in a non-superficial way, you need to make yourself vulnerable through your chosen mode of expression. And that scares people.

    It’s not easy to reach a level of self clarity where you can be true with yourself while, being completely true to others. I like to think I’m at least taking steps in the right direction, and looks like you have found a little clarity of your own 🙂

  4. Wow – thanks NOT-GABE. That was some fantastic feedback very similar to what my friend Gabe gave me – but let’s be clear. You’re NOT-GABE. No confusion on that subject 🙂 Seriously though, thanks a lot – and I’m sure we’ll talk more.

  5. That was a great read: thank you for publishing.

    In a tangential way, it made me realize how amazing it is to how found someone willing and eager to keep evolving right along with. We seek to better ourselves not just for ourselves, but also for the ability to better complement the other.

    The *right* partnership is not a stagnant thing, I think, but rather a dynamicism between personalities determined to grow into supporting the best lives possible for each other and thereby ourselves.

    It’s about having similar values for the word “best.”


  6. *have

  7. The constant authentic being is an incredible search and a continually distinguishable practice. It is also a paradox in ones own mind of being authentic. It is a continuum of self discovery and re-creation of ones self and the distinctions in life that truly create who we are authentically.

  8. Great read.

    You are a smart cookie, my friend.

    I think about this stuff all the time, just never as eloquently.
    I wanna ride the leopard, dammit! 😉

  9. I agree with your article, it took me three failed relationship to understand that. I also believe it is important to surround yourself with the right type of people. In my case. after my mid twenties, everyone around seemed to fall into a relationship ,get married and have kids, even some of whom should never be allowed to go forth and multiply.

    So I started to panic, though I wanted to wait to get a career, have enough to afford a child, or be in a place where i could actually afford time for a relationship. the social pressure of countless wedding and baby christening started to take its toil on me and I ended up looking quite frantically for THE ONE. As such I lowered my requirement considerably, instead of looking for a fun, nice guy who would share my passions, I was just looking for a guy at this point, anything was good to go.

    First one turned out he wanted me just for sex, at his convenience while he was sleeping around with a dozen others, second was going through a crisis of his own, his mom died and he just needed comfort and sex, third one turned out the lousiest, after two months of dating, and getting to the bases, he told me he had a girlfriend in Tokyo but since I was amazing in bed could we be sex buddies??

    I gave up, turned to my career and hit the gym double time due to lack of a sex life. The result? I am now 30, got the best career ever, never looked so good due to those gym sessions, and asked out almost daily, but never had so much options to choose from. End of line, don’t go looking for the one, be the best you can ever be, and you will be THE ONE others are searching for.

  10. Many thanks Tony! I think my biggest take away was that we ALL think about this frequently. I got a lot of feedback that just made me feel more and more similar to lots of people out there 🙂


  11. Love it! You get it! Simple really, Just follow your bliss!

  12. *vomits in mouth a little*

    get a hold of yourself man, nobody wants to read this drivel

  13. Fantastic! My first trolling comment. I must be doing something right.

  14. When I’m not writing my life is on hold in a way but it is hard to be vulnerable 100% of the time. I always find my way back to a path of god like inspiration with my writings but I haven’t lived there in almost a year. Yikes. It comes and goes for me – at varying degrees of intensity.

    And with relationships, finding that person is always in the back of my mind. Even if it seems like a possibility in the present, I do question if they’d be a good match for the future, ideal me, too.

    I’m getting better about not looking for it so much and being more open minded. The timing I can’t control or predict, although I have tried that too.

    You can pretend what’s holding you back doesn’t exist or heal and improve. I share your perspective however you sound further along than me. I’m jealous but I’m logical so I know it’s a process. I’m learning to give myself grace to make mistakes while learning to be still– all of which my future self will appreciate too. What’s written is never wasted for me. I have a conscience about making the most of my time although I could totally waste a day as well.

    But as for living in the present.. Have a beautiful day. Thank you for the inspiration to say something real. 💫

  15. A lot of what you say is fantastic, really. You’re very poetic and seem to grasp yourself and what you need to prosper in life, however, by finding your authentic self you’re leaving behind a lot of good as well as missed opportunities in a potentially fulfilling relationship. I understand you can’t be happy until you’re happy with yourself, yadda yadda, but you know all those things and you strive to do them so why not strive to give people that chance to be in your life? I had an ex who thinks like you completely, I was drawn to him because he was so different, yet when it came to emotional strains he disappeared, and was a contradiction to our relationship. I get that emotional strains push people away and they feel deflected from their “authentic self” but really I found irony in the fact he thought he knew himself so well, yet when life threw something new into the mix he couldn’t deal. Tell me why someone who prides himself on full nourishment of life can’t connect to another human being that wants the same thing, but struggles a bit more? P.S. I’ve had a couple of drinks so if I’ve totally missed your point in this article my apologies (laughs)

  16. Storm – thanks for the honest feedback. First, let me say that I wrote this article a few years ago, and while it was an honest account of how I felt at the time, I’m not certain it’s exactly how I feel now (though still similar, to be fair). That being said, I think the main point I was trying to make was simply this: if I feel like I’m spending a lot of time searching for a partner (a sentiment I had when I wrote this article, and in many ways still do), then why not reinvest some or all of that time spent looking for a partner into something else – into building the type of life I want (with or without a partner), so that when someone does come into my life, they choose me for being who I want to be, rather than me being me at my more trivial?

    At the same time, I don’t have the answers – my life is still hard and happiness comes and goes. I’m simply a person who enjoys writing, and who likes working through my own thoughts in written form, and who enjoys a bit of the public spotlight.

    Thanks again for responding – I hope 2016 is a wonderful year for you.

  17. That was an interesting read. I just celebrated my 4th single Valentine’s Day this year. And let me tell you, it was a lot like a normal day
    (If you can get past the propaganda that gets shoved down your throat).
    You see hearts here and there when you go outside, but honestly, the dating/romance world becomes something strange and distant… Like traveling overseas. Sounds great and you may adventure yourself to do it one day. But there are so many things you have to check with before you actually do it.
    I definitely can relate with the fact that one needs to work on oneself first, and working on yourself is never easy, matter of fact, it’s a never ending work.(until we leave this world, of course) Because we’re constantly changing… Even when we don’t think we change, time and surroundings change us. So if we’re constantly adapting, when will we ever be ready? Not to mention that, as years go by, we learn more of ourselves and now we know what we want, and what we don’t want in a partner. And I don’t know about the rest, but, I can be self conscious from past experiences. So, pretty sure the ideal partner does not exist. Let alone bothering looking for one.
    But that is just way too dramatic. Also, goes agains our human nature. Since ‘feelings of belonging, love, intimacy and friendship’ are 3rd in Maslow’s pyramid.
    We do say our standards have gone higher as we grow old, but I believe they’ve actually gone lower, when we are okay with casual sex and relationships that lead no where.
    Finding my own passion and devoting myself to it is very important to me. But I also believe love can be a big part in helping me finding it, and making myself better a better person, not just for myself. Because when you love, your heart extends and reaches even further. Love is motivation.
    I love how much you opened up. Thank you for sharing.
    Ps: sorry if that was too long or cheesy. Lol

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