I wanted a love story worthy of a Nora Ephron-Rob Reiner collaboration. I wanted It Had To Be You or a similar ballad playing when I fell head-over-heels in love with someone who was both best friend and lifelong lover. I wanted romance, but I didn’t get it in the way I imagined.
Instead, I became a romance writer. If I wasn’t living my happily ever after, I was certainly going to write it. I’ve written four so far with more on the way. I have lived vicariously through one relationship arc after another while my own heart was lifting, soaring, and breaking like a sad song on repeat.
I’ve decided that to manifest my destiny, I need to take a page or two from one of my own novels. What if our “guilty pleasure” romance was actually a powerful guidebook for preparing for love?
Step One: When life goes sideways, fall apart gloriously.
The main character in a good rom-com does this well. They find their boyfriend cheating or get the “it’s not you; it’s me” brush off, and they don’t handle it with dignity and grace. They usually make a scene or dive headlong into a pint of their favorite ice cream — and then 10 pints and then permanent jogging pants and bedhead while they wonder why their life went so horribly wrong.
For those who haven’t handled this part gracefully, congratulations: we’re right on track for our very own love story!
Step Two: Pick yourself up, and dust yourself off.
We can only wallow in abject misery so long before we decide we really should shower and perhaps discard the requisite sweatpants. Often, this is when we start a new workout regimen or take up a new hobby. We decide that we’re going to live our best lives, and grieving will just have to move over into the passenger seat and come along for the ride.
This usually involves a montage in books and movies, so it can help us to choose the song we want to be played during ours. Then, we get on with living even though we still have feelings about what happened. This is a natural and healthy progression to manifesting what’s next. This part is all about focusing on ourselves and on the present.
Step Three: See yourself and your past in a new light.
It’s natural to start having a broader perspective at this point. That “perfect” relationship probably wasn’t perfect at all, and it becomes abundantly clear. We may even start to see red flags we ignored or choices we made that contributed to what happened. This new light we’re seeing ourselves and others in is rarely flattering, but it can serve as a necessary reality check.
We can’t schedule our epiphanies, and some people never have them. However, if we want to manifest the epic love story, it helps to gain a new perspective about what happened rather than seeing it all in black and white.
Step Four: Get your life together.
This is the pivotal point in a book where the main character gets fed up with their own bull and starts to do something about it. They get therapy, start healthy new habits, and even start putting themselves out there more. They begin to fall in love with themselves and to truly believe they are worthy of someone who loves them as well as they love.
Time to get our lives together! We can easily get stuck in blaming everyone and everything else for how our lives worked out, but the truth is that we had a hand in some of it. We need to unpack our emotional cargo and start figuring out who we are, what we want, and even the kind of person we’d like to partner. This doesn’t have to be all serious either. We can have fun creating the life we want to live — with or without a plus-one.
Step Five: Meet someone lovely and live your own personal rom-com.
In theory, this is the part where we meet someone lovely and begin our own personal rom-com. Maybe Fly Me to the Moon isn’t playing when our eyes meet theirs, and there's unlikely to be a shower of autumn leaves or a sudden burst of fireworks overhead. Still, there’s pretty sure to be conflict at some point where we have to decide if this is a relationship we should quit or one we want to keep. Navigating relationships isn’t easy, but the right person won’t make us worry and wonder about their intentions.
For a little while, I thought I nailed Step Five. There was even music playing and a starry sky — or maybe the stars were just in my eyes. I’ll never know for sure. All I know is that I thought I made it this far and had to start over. That’s okay. That is, after all, the origin tale of most romance heroines: we thought we had what we wanted, but then life happened.
There’s good news though. Every romance ends in a Happily Ever After. Maybe believing that it’s possible is the key to getting it. Or maybe simply believing in a happy and healthy right now is the secret — no matter how the relationship turns out in the end.
We might want to take a page from the modern romance with its plucky heroines and start manifesting the life (and love) we need.