This blog is a cross post of a post
that I originally wrote for the Urban Dater, published March 22, 2016
“Stop looking and you’ll find the right person. The right person will come to you.”
“Don’t worry about finding the right partner, it’ll just happen.”
How many of us have heard of this ‘advice’ at some point? I have and found just the opposite to be true.
In my own love life, I was single during most of college (where there are singles everywhere), and was hoping to meet someone but was not actively looking, and guess what? Love didn’t come knocking on my door.
On the other hand, when I started actively looking and making an effort to talk to more women post-college, I got more dates. As I continued to date more, I improved my own life and got smarter about choosing the right person, and the quality of girls got better. Through it all, I had to consistently take a chance, step out of my comfort zone, fail a bunch of times, learn from my mistakes, and try it all again – a little wiser and stronger each time.
When I was 27, many of my close friends were in relationships, and I decided it was time to focus seriously on finding a long term relationship. After four years of dating where I dated 89 different girls and had 10 relationships, I found that I was finally getting closer to meeting the right person when:
- I made it a priority to go out and socialize several times a week and organize get togethers.
- I was efficiently and wisely looking, meaning that I would quickly filter out girls who weren’t looking for the same type of relationship, and didn’t have common values and interests, and move onto girls who were a match.
- I put myself in situations where I was doing something that made me happy (like running, teaching dance, or attending events where I was learning something or experiencing a new adventure), and where there were potential singles as well, so it was a win in that it was a worthwhile event even if I didn’t meet anyone.
- I asked out and dated a lot of different girls, had many failures and break ups, and learned more about what I really needed in a partner, what I definitely didn’t want, and what I could compromise – because it made me recognize, appreciate, and hold on to the right person when she did come along.
- I had my life together (my health was good, my career was going well, I had a friend or two around as wingmen, my family was taken care of), which made me more confident about my future and grateful for what I had, as well as less concerned about rejections.
When You Should Stop Looking (Temporarily)
There are times when you should take a break from dating, and those times are if:
• You’re looking desperately
• After a bad breakup
• If you have no idea what type of relationship you want, or
• If you need to take care of other life priorities (your health, your family, your job prospects, etc.).
Love doesn’t fall on your lap. The odds are rare to find someone single with the same interests and values, who doesn’t have any dealbreakers, who is attractive and thinks the same of you, and is interested in dating now. It is likely that one major thing will not be compatible, so if you’re single and want to be in a healthy, happy long-term relationship, know that it takes time and a lot of trial and error to find someone who is right for you.
After dating Alena for almost two years, and living with her for a year, we got to know each other in all seasons. After a while – like most couples – we were thinking about our future together. I was thinking about whether she was the one to marry. For couples who are considering a long-term commitment, here are some ways to tell if you’ve found the one:
- He or she has all the qualities that you must have in a partner, and their negative qualities are ones you can live with. Nobody’s perfect. Everyone has good qualities and some flaws. Think through what you must have in a partner, and what you’re flexible with. If you and your partner are a match with the important things that make a relationship work – such as lifestyle, values, and long term goals – then that person is likely a keeper. With Alena, it took me years to find someone who is attractive, healthy, open minded, loyal, generous, and looking for a relationship and family, and I knew it would be difficult for me to find someone like her again. She is a bit messier than me, but I can live with it because her great qualities far outweigh that minor issue.
- You can be yourself around him/her. If you’re constantly walking on eggshells and have to be someone you’re not around your partner, you should think twice about whether you should stay in the relationship. Even if you have differences, a good partner respects and accepts who you are, and doesn’t try to control or criticize you for being you. With Alena, she likes the real me, with all my goofy jokes and flaws. She's not as extroverted as I am, but has never said that I couldn’t hang out with my friends. And knowing that she enjoys art and fitness, I’ve never stopped her from doing the things she loves. People rarely change – they are who they are – so if you’re not comfortable with their true self or can’t be yourself with them, it’s time to move on.
- You become a better version of yourself. When I was single, I felt complete as a person. I led a healthy lifestyle, dressed well, was smart about finances, and had a solid career. I was happy and didn’t need a partner to complete me, but being with Alena, I was a better version of myself than I would have been on my own. With Alena, I ate healthier, drank less (it was great to find someone who didn’t drink much either), dressed better, and spent less money ($7,000/year less to be exact at bars and restaurants since we were cooking more at home). With a family on our minds, I was more motivated than ever to advance in my career and land a promotion. If you’re in a relationship where you’re feeling disrespected, less confident, and less secure, it’s time to get out, because good partners build each other up, and don’t tear each other down.
- Take your time. All new couples should take the time to get to know their partner. Most people are typically in their best behavior when you meet them for the first time and in the first few dates, but eventually their true side comes out. All the quirky, “cute” habits from the first few dates (like being clumsy, messy, goofy, etc.) will either become traits that you grow to love, come to accept, or get annoyed with. All couples are different, but we recommend that couples should be together for at least one year to see each other in all seasons and moods, each other’s best and worst behavior, and how they treat other people, especially your close friends and family.