“I’ll accept the right man if he comes along, but I’m not willing to put myself out there anymore,” sighed Claire. She wants Mr. Right; she wants passion and love and a guaranteed date every New Year’s Eve for the rest of her life. How long has it been since her last date? Eight years.
Make A Mental Shift
Instead of losing years, shift in moments.
Imagine being advised not to look for work, because actively seeking a job would somehow scare it away; the right career would come along when it was meant to. Envision telling a career seeker that if the job search isn’t fun, they should stop looking and wait for the right job to find them. Crazy, right?
Yet our culture commonly gives analogous bad advice to singles, to the detriment of beautiful Claires everywhere.
Science flatly disagrees. Once you’re out of school and no longer in environments rife with the available, you’ll have far greater odds of success if you make an ongoing effort—just as active job-seekers are more likely to land a good career.
And dating can be fun. But often, it’s work. Just as we’d never tell someone to cease a job search if it wasn’t 100% fun, we shouldn’t tell ourselves that a lack of fun is a good enough reason to stop searching for love.
Plus, the payoff for effort in love is actually greater than the payoff in the job market. It’s a fact: finding and committing to the right mate will make you happier, healthier, longer-lived, richer, and more sexually satisfied than any other living arrangement—or any amount of career success.
Make Your List
Now make a list, dividing it into Must-Haves—your deal-breakers– and Wants—the negotiable stuff you’d like but can compromise on.
Ever go car-shopping—and then notice your chosen model all over town? The dealership probably didn’t sell more that week; you just began noticing what was already on the road. Similarly, this list is your new best friend, absolutely key to prioritizing love. Not only does it make you likelier to notice Mr. Possibles who are already in your life; it helps you avoid getting waylaid by Mr. Wrong and Mr. Almost.
Despite cultural lore that love is all we need, the divorce rate is driven in part by falling in love with people who aren’t a good enough match. But if you stick to your Must-Haves, knowing the deal is broken if even one deal-breaker is present, you will immediately screen for compatibility. You will stop dating bad choices, however sexy, and you will be free to fall with wild abandon for someone who can be your happily-ever-after.
Make It Known
You’ve got your list, and it’s time to share it—with others, and with the Internet.
You wouldn’t be embarrassed to enlist help in a job search, so let others help here. Research shows that in cultures where people allow their trusted others to help them find a mate, their rates of lifelong, happy marriage are higher than in America. Those people who want your happiness will be happy to help; they know people you don’t know, and they will connect you.
Yes, some of your set-ups will suck. That doesn’t matter. Persist.
And share your list with the world. About one-third of people who have married in the past decade met online, and research indicates that they’re happier than couples who met in any other way. Create a profile that capitalizes, in positive and upbeat language, on what you’re seeking. Put it out there.
I don’t know if Claire has shifted her priorities, but Bella did. Despite Stage 4 cancer at the time of her search, she met her Mr. Right~spending her last eight years with a man she adored, who adored her right back.
None of us truly has forever. But however much of forever we have, if love is what you want, it’s time to make it a priority.
-Dr. Duana Welch is the author of Love Factually, the first book that uses science rather than opinion to help men and women find and keep love. You can learn more about her and her book and get a free sample here.