A few weeks ago, I was out at brunch with some of my girl friends (yeah, I get invited to girl’s brunch, I like mimosas and gossip, and I won’t apologize for that), when the subject of relationships came up. More specifically, one girl was complaining about how her latest FWB had failed to materialize into a full-blown relationship, much like the three before him. While others at the table spouted off overused lines like “you’re too good for him anyway,” and “he’ll realize what he’s missing and come back,” I decided to toss a truth bomb out there. “You’re never going to be in a happy relationship if you’re desperately searching for one.” This advice was received rather poorly, but after a half hour and some mimosas, the group started coming around to my way of thinking.
The truth is, most people have been in my friend’s shoes. I’ve hit up my boys to go out and pick up girls only to have the realization that they were all in relationships, and I was the last single one left. I’ve looked at snowflakes accumulating on my windowsill on a Sunday morning and wished I were waking up with a girlfriend, not just a devastating hangover. Most of us, at some point or another, for a variety of reasons, have wanted to be in a relationship. The problem is, that mindset is never going to result in one. The trope that “relationships come when you least expect them” has been around forever, but the truth is, it’s not when you least expect them, but when you least need them that they happen. The more you believe you NEED to be in a relationship, the more you reek of desperation, and the less anyone wants anything to do with you. For good or bad, male or female, everyone loves the chase. They may say they hate the drama or the uncertainty or “playing games,” but the truth is, it thrills them.
There is no greater adventure in life than pursuing (or being pursued) by someone who you’re not sure you can get with. All the wondering if they’re going to text you back, whether you scared them off with your Spring Break ’12 story, overanalyzing every aspect of each date – all of that is what makes the beginning of relationships exciting. And when you desperately want to be in a relationship, you take all of that off the table. People like earning things in life. Accomplishing a goal that took hard work is much more satisfying than knocking off an easy task, and dating is no different. If it’s clear from the first meeting that you want to be in a relationship, it takes away all the uncertainty that makes dating interesting. It also makes it clear that you value being in a relationship more than the person who you’d be with. When I asked my friend why she wanted to be in a committed relationship with this guy, and her answers had nothing to do with who he was as a person. She wanted to have someone to “stay in with when no one is going out,” and “have cool date nights with,” and “take cute pictures with.” She didn’t want this person to be her boyfriend; she just wanted a boyfriend.
I’m not saying wanting to be in a relationship is bad, and I’m not preaching living a single life with no attachments (although everyone should try it at some point, it’s a lot of fun). My advice is simple: If you want to be in a relationship, the first step is finding someone who you want to be in a relationship with. For most, this is the hardest process. It may take long periods of being alone, it may take many dates with people you don’t consider your type, and it may take some internal reflection on how to make yourself happy. The most attractive trait to a potential suitor is someone who doesn’t need them to be happy, but wants them in their lives to make them happier. I learned that lesson when, at the peak of me crushing the single life (I got two Tinder “super likes” in a six month period, no biggie), some girl came along and ruined it by making me fall for her. I didn’t need, particularly want, or was even looking for a relationship until I met someone with whom I genuinely wanted to commit to.
For those of you who are bummed that you missed the cuffing memo, who are trying to recruit acquaintances to hit the bars with because all your friends are doing “wine & paint date nights” or whatever, embrace being single. Hit on someone out of your league. Have a one-night stand with someone you don’t want to date. Tell people you’re not looking for anything serious right now, and then decide later if you want to change that. Stop searching for a relationship and just enjoy your life. .