It’s almost Valentine’s Day again — that wonderful, rosy hearted, chocolate filled commercial holiday that puts love out there for all to see.

Once again this year, I’m sans partner but not completely loveless. Let’s just say I’ve got from: irons in the fire; I’m just not sure the bull is ready for branding.

It’s at times like these that I’m glad to be a woman.  Women are led by their emotions, and most women have no problem expressing them. Nothing makes men more skiddish, though, than having to acknowledge their feelings, particularly when those feelings relate to caring for a person of the opposite sex. 

It also seems like men are less likely than women to put themselves back out there once they’ve been hurt.  I know so many men who say they haven’t given up on love, but that they’re so tired of game playing and deceit that they just aren’t going to go out and look for it anymore. 

As someone who’s been hurt and lied to by someone I loved (What woman hasn’t?), I completely understand where they’re coming from, but I feel that there’s always room for another go at it if the right guy comes along.  Sure; it’s a risk — by making myself vulnerable, I could get burned again – but a very wise man once pointed out to me that if I never try again, I’m sure to die alone, while if I open myself up to love, at least I have a chance at happiness. 

(Granted, this man was trying to get in my pants at the time, but it was good advice never-the-less.)

I dated that guy for seven years, and in the end, I did get lied to and hurt, but those seven years were fun, and I think I’d be a lesser person if I’d never had them. But did it jade me to all relationships?  Maybe for a little while, but not permanently.  I think the only semi-permanent result of the experience has been that I tend to take relationships less seriously now. I don’t fall in love at the drop of a hat nor do I trust as easily.

In short, I’ve become more of a wait-and-see kind of gal, and because of that, I’ve met and become friends with some amazing, special men who I might not have paid attention to before.  These relationships are not about sex, but about friendship and commaradarie. They’re about fun, laughter and deep meaningful conversations.

I’ve learned through these experiences that I love men. 

That may sound strange coming from a warm blooded heterosexual woman, but there’s a difference between being in love with a man and loving men.  (For example, I’ve been in love with a man during a time when I didn’t especially like men in general, much less love them.)  Now, I’ve come to appreciate men for their directness, their humor, their sensitivity (yes, really) and their tendency toward what-you-see-ifrom:  I like that most men don’t play emotional games, that they’re fair in the workplace and can appreciate the value of a smart woman.

I just wish there weren’t so many of them who have closed up their emotions rather than risk getting hurt again. They miss out on so much, and consequently, so do the prospective women in their lives.  With so much padlocked baggage being carried around, it’s no wonder that women find it hard to find a good man once they’ve reached 35.

As a consequence of this, many women have learned to become the aggressor when it comes to the pursuit of relationships.  That’s way outside my own comfort zone, though. I grew up in an era where men did the calling, the asking out and made the first move toward first base. So, it’s clear to me that I’m going to have to learn to take the bull by the horns if I’m ever going to find the right guy for me.

I know he’s out there somewhere, being bullish. I just need to learn to rope well enough to knock him off balance so he can see that I’m the gal for him!