My wife and I were extremely lucky. We found each other in high school, dated throughout college, and got married a few years after that (yes, a nearly decade-long courtship). We knew we had something special pretty early on, and we stuck together through thick and thin.
Unfortunately, for most people it’s not that easy. One of my best friends is almost thirty years old. He has only had one significant girlfriend in his entire life – and that was several years ago. It’s not for lack of trying. His biggest problem – one that he recognizes – is that he clams up in social situations with people he doesn’t know well. This attribute makes it very hard to meet people.
He has tried many different methods for overcoming this. He’s been on countless one-off dates. He got very involved with eHarmony a while back. He’s tried counseling and psychotherapy. Nothing’s helped, but he’s wound up with a lighter wallet because of it.
Over the last year, though, he’s come to three big realizations about his time, his money, and love. He’s revealed them to me over several conversations, and they’re quite compelling, enough so that I want to share them with all of you.
First, successful love seems to come to you – it isn’t chased. That doesn’t mean he thinks stuff like eHarmony was a waste of time, but it is if you pursue it aggressively. Instead, you might be better off just engaging in social activities that you enjoy and just seeing if the right match comes along.
Second, if you’re uncomfortable, it’s not going to work. He used to sometimes go to bars to look for women, but the whole situation made him very uncomfortable and thus made it basically impossible to meet anyone. He simply didn’t feel that he had much in common with the people there, drinking themselves into oblivion and searching in desperation. Perhaps his view on things was skewed, but if the situation makes you uncomfortable, it’s going to be almost impossible to find someone there. Instead, practice extending your comfort zone a little bit on your own. Engage in some personally fulfilling activities that might be a bit different than what you’re used to, but don’t dive off the deep end.
Finally, don’t send off an inaccurate vibe. Sure, keep yourself clean and wear decent clothes, but when you start wearing clothes that you don’t like simply because they’ll attract someone, you’re sending off the wrong vibe. Similarly, don’t start working at a volunteer place just to impress someone – it won’t work out over the long run.
Because of this, and the realization that maybe he was spending his time in the wrong way and definitely putting too much money into it, he changed his approach and it seems to be paying off.
He stopped all activities he was involved in solely for meeting someone. He ceased wearing his “going out” clothes. He stopped going out to bars or clubs. He logged off of eHarmony (it hadn’t found him anyone, anyway). Instead, he decided to devote his time and resources to things that left him more fulfilled and complete.
He enjoys bicycling, so he joined a bicycling club. They bike together each weekend when the weather’s nice and also participate in RAGBRAI (a bicycle ride across Iowa). Since he already had all of the equipment, it didn’t cost him anything. Since he already enjoys bicycling, the social threshold was much lower, as they all already had bicycling in common.
He also joined a book club at the library. He reads history quite a bit, and he found a historical book club to join. He’s been to three meetings and seems to quite enjoy it – since the books are at the library, he’s not had any problem getting the books for free, and he’s met several people he describes as “interesting … in a good way.”
In short, he’s just doing what genuinely interests him aside from the dating scene – and he’s finding some interesting people along the way. Even better, this approach is a lot cheaper than his earlier actions.
This sounds like a net win to me!