"You'll find love when you stop looking for it."
This is something I've been told by almost every person I respected, as I unsuccessfully navigated the singles scene.
Truth be told, I hated dating. I always felt awkward, and I always felt the person sitting across from me was judging everything I said or did. It was like entering some lame, lonely pageant, where I was the only contestant.
Dating was like entering some lame, lonely pageant, where I was the only contestant.
As each date passed, communication with the women I'd take out would eventually die off, and I'd find myself reluctantly back at square one. And let me tell you, this happened a lot.
At each of my family get-togethers, as my cousins were getting married and having children, I, the youngest, was getting set up with almost every single friend, co-worker or complete stranger my family could send my way.
The worst was when my aunt set me up with her hairdresser. Not only did we have NOTHING in common (she valued money, expensive things and selfies), but we also had zero chemistry.
Like, I couldn't even drum up any small talk with her, and it was horrible. Even in hindsight, I cringe.
It was after that disaster date when I drew the line and refused to be set up ever again. From then on, I was going to do this dating thing on my own terms. It was going to be great... except it wasn't.
But every time a date of mine failed, I received that same line of reassurance I mentioned above over and over again.
Was there any truth to it? Does one's absolute refusal to find love mean it will eventually find you? Because if this was applied to anything else — like a job — this approach would be regarded as disgraceful and lazy. "I'm not going to find a job; I'm going to let it find me."
Is there any respect in that? Would mom, dad or grandma respect this decision? Of course they wouldn't. So why is this strategy encouraged in nothing else except seeking love?
To find an answer, I spoke with Deanna Cobden, a dating and relationship coach and an authority who insists that this common advice is usually the basis for what worked for the people giving the advice.
She says, “While the intention is good, it's not always sound advice for the person they're giving it to, because depending on how it's interpreted, both options can leave them stuck in negative patterns."
While the intention is good, it's not always sound advice for the person they're giving it to.
“When some people decide they're going to find love, they start with one energy (usually positive), but over time, it changes into something else (usually negative) which can kill any chance of attraction that could be there,” explains Cobden.
I know this all sounds very elusive and vague at this point, but we're getting to the answer, I promise.
“This person might start out very self-assured, with a long list of things they're looking for and, overtime, becomes picky and negative because there's no one that can possibly match it,” Cobden says. “The truth is, some people are looking for a fantasy; it's got to be love at first sight and if they don't find it, next!”
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you've got the other group of daters who will interpret "love will just find me" as an opportunity to do nothing — not grow and not learn — and otherwise just exist, waiting for someone to change their life.
According to Cobden,
These people might find love, but it can take years and years. As time goes on, their energy can also start to develop into lack of confidence, neediness and growing more and more bitter. I've had clients that have been single anywhere from 3 - 20 years with no more than a handful of dates based on this statement.
But let's be clear here: Not looking for love is definitely your worst option.
“If you don't look for a quality relationship, you won't find it,” Cobden says. “You usually end up with what falls into your lap or nothing at all. But your search must come from a place of being fulfilled and happy first.”
So if both waiting and actively pursuing love doesn't work, what does?
Cobden explains, “The part that 'love comes when you're not looking' isn't really about not looking. It's about living your best life possible and fulfilling your own needs and desires with an open heart.”
In other words, Cobden believes you must love and be happy with yourself before you can love somebody else.
Whenever she's coaching her clients, she emphasizes that “the foundation of everything is self-love, self-worth, self-confidence, creating a life you love and then learning dating and attraction skills from there.”
The foundation of everything is self-love.
So what you need to do is insist that the “you'll find love when you stop looking for it” advice is coming from the right place, but it can't necessarily be applied literally.
Basically, don't take this advice too seriously.
What you should do instead is be a little selfish. Do things you wouldn't do, find adventurous men in adventurous places and put yourself out there!
That way, you're neither actively pursuing love nor passively waiting for your soulmate to come along. Instead, you're making moves that'll make you happy and that only encourage your odds of finding your soulmate.