dating, men's issues

Love Will Not Find You If You Stop Looking

“You’ll find the right person when you stop looking.”

Most single people have friends or family who’ve offered this bit of wisdom. Their reasoning is that God (or the Universe, depending on their world-view) works in mysterious ways, and that something so essential, so life-altering and important, can’t be forced. They also say it because many people who are actively looking for love become needy, and neediness is unattractive, in both men and women.  There is also something romantic about finding the love of your life in the “three buck Chuck” aisle at Trader Joe’s, or while shopping for leafy greens at Whole Foods. It’s the stuff of movies. What woman wouldn’t want to be living a romantic comedy, and what man wouldn’t want to put a smile on a woman’s face by bringing her into one?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/garlandcannon/
Photo by Jan

The whole idea of love walking through the door when you stop looking is both romantic and reasonable, but it doesn’t usually hold up in my experience. It’s one of those things that, to paraphrase  Hemingway, seems true at first light but is a lie by noon. Though a few people I’ve known have found love after they’ve stopped looking, for most people, finding love after you stop looking is something that only happens in the movies.  In real life, true love comes only after a lengthy, deliberate search.

That’s not to say that focusing on other aspects of life doesn’t have its benefits. I spent four years not looking for love; in that time, I learned classical guitar, studied Portuguese, and took salsa dancing and yoga classes. I went on about three dates that entire time, with women who just came my way with no effort on my part. There were no second dates as far as I remember. Which was fine because, long before that point, I had decided to enjoy being alone.  But I fell into a holding pattern, and started to enjoy my own company a lot more than was probably healthy for me.

Those four years spent not looking were good years for me, but they didn’t improve my dating skills or increase my chances of meeting the love of my life. I mention the guitar, yoga, and salsa classes specifically, because a lot of people will say, “Oh, but those are perfect ways to meet women without even trying. Women love musicians and love to salsa, and yoga studios are filled with women.” Yes, but intention is everything. I was going to yoga and salsa classes, but without intending to meet anyone, and in fact I did not meet anyone. My soulmate didn’t walk into my life just because I relaxed my attention on finding a mate and focused on improving my life; all that happened was I improved my life. Meeting a woman at a yoga class means staying late or arriving early, which I wasn’t willing to do. Women love guitar players, but they can only meet them when they’re out, and I was doing my practicing mostly at home. And in order to meet someone while out salsa dancing, you have to initiate conversation, which I also wasn’t interesting in doing. I enjoyed the physical connection with women, their smiles, and their scents; I enjoyed leading them, but I didn’t have the slightest interest in talking to them. Many, no doubt, assumed I was gay. But it’s not that I was gay, or even shy. It’s that, for me, at that place and in that time, the connection of dance felt like it was enough.

It was only after I felt ready for a relationship, and stated my intention authoritatively and soulfully to my coach, that love came into my life, and then only because I also put in the footwork to find someone. This meant putting my guitar down, getting off the yoga mat, and interacting with real live women. It meant going to places where the type of women I wanted to meet were likely to be, with intention; practicing behaviors that were more likely to lead to positive interactions; and going on dates that were likely to lead to a genuine connection with someone. It meant going out several nights every week with dozens of women, most of whom were not a match. It meant rejecting others, and being rejected — a lot.

Whenever I hear a client complain that “all the good women are taken” or that “there are no good women”, I ask them what they’re doing to show up in the world of women–now, not in some theoretical future when there’s enough time and opportunity. Most don’t have a plan, or they have a plan but are implementing it in bits and pieces, and not consistently. This will produce mixed results in the short-term, and lead to frustration and disappointment in the long-term. Enter the land of women as the man you are. Practice the behaviors and the mindsets that will make you more attractive. You are going to have to meet a lot of people before you find the love of your life. Contrary to popular wisdom that says it should be effortless, it actually takes a lot of effort, so just take your time and have fun.

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