By Mario P. Cloutier and Diane Sawaya Cloutier
This is the kind of news that does not get a lot of attention from big national media outlets most of the time, but it sure caught ours. It was the simple story of the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police deciding to do what's right for the single mothers in their community during Valentine's Day. In conjunction with their residents they ended up choosing three single mothers and spoil them with roses, a set of earrings and a gift certificate to a reputable restaurant in their town. Needless to say the three winners were totally moved by those nice gestures from complete strangers, as most of us would.
But this probably rings more loudly with single moms as most of them get to carry their loads alone and too often, unnoticed. Diane knows first-hand what it's like because she's been a single mother. While she admits she was fortunate to benefit from an amazing support group, she looks back on that phase of her life as one that brought many fears and questions, often in the form of self-doubts.
"I felt lonely, and I truly thought that few others could relate to my situation. This was several years ago, in a world that was certainly different from today's world for single moms. For instance, the likes of SingleParentMeet.com had not yet arrived. Skype couldn't help me keep an eye on the little one when I went out. And less people were becoming single parents by choice. Still, when it comes down to the real anxieties and worries single parents face, has much really changed?" says Diane.
Still, the troubling concerns that single parents say torment their lives today sound identical to the ones Diane wrestled with more than two decades ago: "Am I a good enough mom?" "Will we be okay financially?" "When will I be able to find some time for myself?" "Am I going to be alone for the rest of my life?" And, the BIG one: "Will I ever be able to love and truly be loved again?"
We don't pretend to have all the answers to these pressing questions, but, on the BIG one, we do have some answers. Here's what we've learned:
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Everything starts with a decision--a choice we make. What is yours? Are you just looking to meet someone, or are you seeking to love and truly be loved? This may sound simplistic, but it is the first step of any true love journey.
After her divorce, Diane found herself back on the dating scene as a single mother. It took her several failed relationships before she made a choice that changed her life. She decided she would no longer settle or compromise for anything less than a lasting, blissful relationship. And she was resolute in her decision, even if this meant remaining alone with her son for the foreseeable future.
Make it a B.Y.O.S.
Party invitations refer to B.Y.O.B. Our advice to you is don't jump into a new relationship unless you Bring Your Own Self.
Early on in a new relationship, many of us undermine who we really are just to seduce the person we are dating. We would rather camouflage our true identity than stay alone forever! Trust us on this: Once we make the choice to no longer compromise our true identity, to do the B.Y.O.S. thing, the lasting fulfilling relationship we deserve tends to manifest.
We're in charge.
We have to make a conscious effort to figure out the non-negotiables, or "personal laws" we require from a relationship. Once we've established our own needs and our own self-worth, we will have a clearer picture of our next relationship. We have to remain steadfast and unbending about our personal laws. This will help us avoid pitfalls on our quest to finding our ideal relationship, and it will show others that we care enough about ourselves to not compromise what we feel is important.
For Diane, her #1 personal law was:
My son has to be embraced, not just accepted.
Diane had been in situations where she knew this wasn't the case, and it didn't feel right. This became a non-negotiable condition for her. Personal laws are by nature...personal! There's no one set of requirements. But, if we fail to establish them--or worse, if we don't implement them as we embark on our next relationship, chances are this will end up as a deal breaker later on.
Our takeaway is simple. It's certainly normal to feel lonely and forgotten as a single mother, especially when the date on the calendar yells to us that we shouldn't be... But by making simple changes, one by one, we can achieve tremendous results in our lives, including, finding the special person who will bring us flowers even when it's not Valentine's Day!
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Authors, relationship coaches and HuffingtonPost bloggers Diane and Mario Cloutier found each other in 1998 after they both had experienced unfulfilling relationships and divorces. Their new book, Relovenship™ - Look Within to Love Again! (Xclamat!on Media, 2015) gives inspiration, hope and a step-by-step methodology to people who have had romantic disappointments and are still looking to find "the one." Mario and Diane are now constantly traveling across the United Sates and Canada to spread their message. For booking inquiries or to learn more about the authors and their upcoming events, go to ReLovenship.com.