Clinical Psychologist · Divorce Mediator · Life Coach
I am constantly hearing the lament: “Where have all the good men (women) gone?” The way people talk you would think that mates were an extinct species. In this article I will be discussing the issue of mate selection in human beings and ways in which you can increase the odds of finding a “compatible mate.” You do not have to be alone; and there is more than one partner for you if you are willing to change your attitudes and put in a little effort. You must give up certain myths, time-honored beliefs, and begin to take charge of your romantic life. Romance is no different than any other aspect of your life. It requires that you take the responsibility for making it happen. Your perfect partner is not going to materialize out of thin air and appear in your living room. You must develop a plan of action and then act upon it.
Let’s take a critical look at some common myths about romance.
Myth 1: Luck is the essence of romance.
Luck has very little to do with romance other than to maintain the illusion that we are helpless pawns in the game of love. Most folks engage in their search for a partner and then hope for the best. These people have no expectation of winning. Many people approach romance in the same way that they approach a gambling table in Las Vegas. They put their dollar on the crap table, roll the dice, and pray. Professional gamblers, however, do everything in their power to increase the odds in their favor. And professional lovers do everything in their power to increase their possibilities of meeting the person of their dreams.
Myth 2: Marriages are made in heaven.
This myth is similar to the first one in that it assumes that relationships are preordained, out of the hands of ordinary mortals. It assumes that we do not have any control over the mates we end up with and that we must settle for those that we find ourselves involved in. Human beings make choices. and many of them are poor choices.
Myth 3: There is only one partner that is perfect for each of us.
If this were the case, then it would not be possible for people to have happiness in a marriage after the death of a spouse. Clearly, since people do indeed find happiness in second and even third marriages, there is more than one potential mate available for each of us. Our job is to increase the probabilities of finding those potential partners.
What About Romance?
Romance and love, at first sight, are integral to our fantasies about mate selection. We love to hear stories about how people fall in love. We love the notion of two people gazing across a crowded room, eyes meeting, and love is in bloom. More often than not these people are in lust, not love. But this is not to say that this cannot happen. However, it is unlikely.
More often love grows between two people who have a common connection. It is the common connections that bind us, love then blooms in the soil of mutual interest, mutual respect, and friendship. What my strategy will do is increase the odds of this happening.
Developing a Plan
Now that we have debunked some of our favorite myths we are ready to move to the next step: developing a strategy. Most people become rather wary at this point. They believe that romance should just happen without any strategizing. I am a firm believer in letting nature take its course. However, I am also interested in empowering people to give nature a helping hand. There is nothing in this plan that is against romance. Developing a plan increases your likelihood of success. We develop plans and strategies for everything in life that we succeed at, careers, a dinner party or wedding, performing surgery, buying a new or used car, planning our estate, designing a house, decorating an apartment, or going on a vacation. You name it. If we are successful, we have made a plan.
Step One: What are you looking for?
Most of the time when I ask people what they are looking for in a mate they say something like “Someone attractive, intelligent, and sensitive with a good sense of humor.” They try to give the impression that they are not asking for much. However, on closer investigation, I usually find that the list is much more extensive. So, in this step make a complete list of what you are looking for in a mate. Include those characteristics that are important for everyday living on a long term basis.
Step Two: Take a personal inventory.
Honesty is very important in this step. List all the characteristics that describe yourself. Pretend that you are describing yourself to someone else, what would you say? Once you have developed this list, ask three of your closest friends to develop a list describing you. Tell them to be brutally honest. Compare their list with your own. Then ask them to look at your list and tell you whether they agree with your self-assessment. If there is a discrepancy. between how you see yourself and how your friends see you, then you have some work to do.
Step Three: Separate fantasy from reality.
Most of us have images of ourselves that often are at odds with reality. We have an idea of who we would like to be and present the image to the world rather than the reality. Sometimes we tell the story so often we tend to believe it ourselves. When it comes to relationships we cannot present the person we would like to be to others as if it were the person we actually are. This would never fly in business; it is called false advertising. Truth in advertising is very important in developing a relationship. We often deceive ourselves as well as others. In this step you must assess what you say you want with the reality of who you are. Some men say that they want an independent thinking, self-directed woman, who has her own career. In reality, they want a woman who will take care of them and be the Mom they never had.
Step Four: Increase your opportunities.
Make a list of the type of activities you enjoy: biking, dancing, cooking, spiritual, self-help, yoga, art, horseback riding, etc. Begin to participate in those activities in an arena where both single men and women can be found. If you are interested in cooking, for example, find a cooking class that is likely to be attended by both men and women. By attending activities that your are interested in you are able to insure that you will have a good time even if you do not meet someone who is of interest to you. Maximize your use of your time.
Step Five: It pays to advertise.
Let all of your friends and relative know that you are seeking a mate. Make use of business associates. Everyone is a potential agent. And most people love the idea of helping someone find a mate. Tell them about yourself and specifically what you are looking for so they can better represent you. Don’t be bashful, be honest. Think of these people as you would a real estate agent; tell them exactly what you are looking for so that you can increase your likelihood of success. The more information they have the better. Make use of dating services, but check them out first. Make sure they are reputable. Get references. Do the types of people you are looking for participate? If you have a flair for writing, use the personals column, but again do some homework. Check the credibility of the magazine and quality of the ads. Do the types of people you are looking for advertise in the column?
Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist, Divorce Mediator, and Life Coach, whose goal is to help people maximize their potential and achieve their goals. He is a licensed psychologist, certified sex therapist, and licensed marriage and family therapist. He has been in practice for over three decades with clinical specialties in sex therapy, divorce and relationship counseling, individual and group psychotherapy. His recent books, Someone Right for You and Keeping Your Sanity are available through Amazon.com. He can be reached [email protected]; visit his web site at www.docdreyfus.com.
The above article is excerpted from Dr. Dreyfus’s book Keeping Your Sanity which is also available directly through www.xlibris.com/keepingyoursanity