I’ve been single now for over two years. I have thought of “dating,” but in truth, I have not been ready. While I would prefer to have a special someone in my life, I know I have benefitted from flying solo and have needed the time to heal and the space to make sense of the end of my last relationship.

I have met a few women that have piqued my interest but so far nothing has translated into companionship beyond a few dinner dates. One adorable woman, on paper anyway, “should” be a good match. We have a lot in common. Yet every time we have gone to dinner one on one, it becomes awkward.

I occurred to me after one such evening that I could approach relationships using a different mindset. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to define a relationship, it can get in the way. Instead of only evaluating what I feel about a person, if I like this or that, what does she think of me (and other boring insecure thoughts I won’t water further by repeating them), a more useful question is, “Why is this person in my life and how can and do we connect?” When I used that question as my filter in regard to my new friend, I immediately felt more neutral about the ways we do not resonate with one another and it was easier to accept that we just don’t. But I sincerely like her very much and I enjoy seeing her in larger social settings. I feel positive towards her and less critical of myself under the focus of what works and how I do feel comfortable with her.

The same question comes to the rescue when I reflect on the relationships that are naturally thriving in my life right now. Off the top of my head as I type, two really precious friends that I have met recently come to mind. One is a massage therapist that rents an office just down the hall from mine and the other is in a peer supervision group that I attend monthly. Both women are smart, real, engaging and easy for me to talk to. There is a genuine mutual appreciation that flows within our conversation. I also still have several close friends that I don’t see as often as I’d like because we don’t live in the same city, but we are able to still enjoy time together when we have it and it’s easy to pick right back up where we last left off.

The older I get, the more I have come to value the gift of a kindred spirit, in whatever package it comes. I am choosing to be grateful for the wealth of connection that is abundant through friendships and mindful to not over emphasize the absence of a romantic one. That shift leaves me feeling content, deeply cared for and open.