It has been 365 days since I have been out on a date, or even remotely pursued anything with men. It was a conscious choice I made last year, after a long string of bad decisions, near fatal attractions, a glut of embarrassingly adolescent behavior, and much scraping my heart up off the floor. The Year of Loving Myself Passionately has officially come to a close. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still planning on loving myself passionately, but I am now open to someone else loving me passionately as well. I’m officially Back on the Market. (That makes it sound so tawdry, doesn’t it?)

I’m coming back around this time from a whole different point of view. This year of not dating has grounded me in a way that just about nothing has. Freed of the constant low-level (and often high-level) obsession with Finding a Partner, my mind and heart opened up. New awarenesses rushed in. My spiritual growth took a quantum leap.

I spent a lot of time grieving my divorce at a deeper level, something which I needed desperately to do, but used dating to sidestep. I moved through consecutive and sometimes overlapping stages of longing for my ex, then anger at him, then envy. Raging against What Is, and then arriving at a place of cautious acceptance. Then the acceptance began to feed on itself. I found myself angry at my ex less and less of the time, brooding about What Could Have Been less and less of the time, until I had a staggering realization:

It just wasn’t meant to be.

When I could really accept that, and I mean REALLY accept that, it was as if the clouds opened up and the angels burst forth in song. Birds flapped their wings en masse and did aerial pirhouettes. I felt the last drops of bitterness seep out of my pores, the last dregs of self-pity melted away, and I was a changed woman. I won’t say that I’m completely over my divorce, but I have truly moved on in my heart, and this means that I am now ready to allow someone new and wonderful in. The ghosts of my marriage are not mucking up my aura.

So now, I am back on the market, but I’m coming at it from a whole different place. I’m not desperate. Not at all desperate. I used to have “desperate” stamped on my forehead, people! I positively oozed desperate.

Have there been times when it was lonely? Hell, yes! There was one Friday night when a friend had to cancel, and I simply couldn’t bear to be home alone. I got all dressed up and sat in a hookah bar for quite a while, breathing in secondhand smoke and drinking bottled water, until I attracted a twenty-something, unemployed bartender who invited me to sit at the table with him and his friend. That was maybe the closest thing I had had to a date all year, but when he invited me to go out dancing with them, I had to decline. I had made a commitment to myself. Do I regret it? Hell, no.

But mostly, I had good times hanging with my girlfriends. Much girl bonding was had. I worked on a lot of personal writing projects and read a ton of books and articles. I was present for my grandmother’s death and stayed sane and stable through it all. Many mornings and evenings were spent in contemplative prayer and meditation. Of course, I had a whole lot of fun focusing on my relationship with the most important man in my life: my son. And I watched a shitload of RomComs, post-apocalyptic films, and lowbrow comedies. Netflix is a single gal’s best friend.

Last Friday (Christmas Eve) I went to a Jewish singles’ event, and I met a really sweet guy, a single dad who was fun and easy to talk to and cute. We have been emailing and texting a little bit, and he has not yet asked me out, but I am not all freaked out or much focused on that. A year ago, I would have been beside myself waiting to be asked out. I would have been calling all my girlfriends and talking about it for hours. Or I would have asked him out, and either gotten rejected or wondered if he accepted just to be polite. If he does ask me out, great - if not, I am just not getting all depressed about it. Period. It’s his deal, not mine. I’m a catch. Someone will come along and be bright enough to realize that.

This year, I have discovered that I have a kick-ass life, an amazing life, a life so jam-packed with blessings it’s ridiculous. What’s different now is that I’m not “seeking” a partner. I’m just putting it out there that I am in a good place. I’m now ready to be swept off my feet, and I am confident that the right man for me will come along to do some sweepin’. When he does, it will be meant to be.