Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why Finding "The One" Isn't Easy

When women look for relationships, they sometimes expect certain parts to come easily.

No one would sit around and wait for his/her dream job to come around. No one would say, “with the right career, I won’t have to work for it. I’ll just sit back and it’ll come to me.”

Instead, we go to grad school and take less-than-glamorous jobs and work our asses off to move up one (tiny) step on the ladder.

Yet most of us would say that finding a life partner is just as important as a good career, if not more so. So why, then, do we go out and ruthlessly pursue the latter but refuse to put any work in to finding the former?

Most of us wouldn’t think twice about looking for a job online. And if our friend said, “Yeah, I’m not gonna use Monster, because, I dunno, it’s not really as authentic—like, our parents used to look at the Help Wanted ads and mail in their applications. I think it should go back to being like that,” we’d tell her she was crazy.

But when our friends are opposed to online dating and events targeted at meeting guys, we see their points. (This isn’t to say that all dating sites and networking events are worth trying, but a lot of people seem morally opposed to even dabbling in these resources.)

It may seem unfair to compare “love” to a job search, but isn’t that what it’s really like? It’s about finding someone who both possess the qualities you’re looking for in a partner and finds traits in you that he wants in a girlfriend. You’re looking for a “good fit,” the same way you look for the best job that you’re qualified for.

(Not to mention the fact that an abstract idea about love is a lot less important than things like compatibility and similar values, but that’s a topic for another post.)

Of course, many of us grew up hearing stories about our parents, or grandparents, or friends of grandparents, who met when they weren’t looking for love and wound up being soulmates.

It makes for a great story, but it also makes us wonder. Back in the 30s, 40s, 50s, when most of these matches presumably took place, women depended on men for economic support the same way women today need a job to pay their rent.

At the same time, various world wars decimated the male populations in Europe (and, to some extent, the U.S.). So these women needed husbands to survive, and, at the same time, they faced stiff competition for eligible bachelors. And we’re expected to believe that the ones who found husbands sat around waiting for it to happen?

We’ve tested this theory before. We probed our grandparents on specific details of their courtship, and (without airing any specific family laundry) while one set did seem to just fall in love, one of our grandmothers very actively pursued our grandfather, but she leaves out most of those details when she retells the story.

Perhaps that’s because women were expected to be ladylike and wait to be pursued by potential suitors. And even though it’s been decades, our mothers (and grandmothers) still want to project these images when they tell their stories.

This isn’t to say that women should go after men the way they go after Tory Burch flats at a Bloomingdales sale. But when we tell ourselves that, with the right guy, everything will be easy and we won’t have to work, we’re probably doing more harm than good.

So if you are really looking to meet someone, and you aren’t have much luck at The Front Page, why not try kickball or OKcupid? If you do end up meeting your future spouse, you can take a page from our grandparents’ book and tell an alternate version of the truth when someone asks how you met.

6 comments:

  1. You are absolutely right. Finding love shouldn't be easy because then it might turn out to be too good to be true anyway. You have to work hard for love that's going to last. And you are right about another thing too. There is no way I would chase after a man as fast as I chase after Tory Burch flats... ESPECIALLY if they're on sale. OMG Tory. Please just adopt me already! Happy Tuesday!

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  2. I agree, it isn't easy to find love. In my recent experience though I have had to deal with women who expected it to be easy and where not willing to work on a relationship with me - or really anyone. It doesn't matter were you meet someone if you aren't willing to work with that someone to make things work. Finding is one thing... making it work is another.

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  3. true. but take the analogy one step further. yes, it is possible to find jobs on monster/yahoo etc, but most would argue that that's not the best way to go about finding a job. the majority of positions are secured through networking and connections.

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  4. @Anon hits the nail on the head. I am not morally opposed to online dating. But I've known many friends who have put incredible amounts of time into it and come up short.

    The problem with online dating, like a job search, is that a resume is a poor substitute for a personal reference from someone you know, or even just spending some time with someone.

    People often say online dating is better because they don't have time for more conventional means of meeting people - socializing in bars or events that are oriented towards single people, or getting involved in community organizations or generally putting yourself in situations where you will meet people.

    From most stories I've heard from people who date online a lot, it doesn't sound like the "time" side of the equation works well for online dating. Most people spend countless hours looking online, emailing endlessly, talking on the phone, going on one-off dates, etc.

    Can most "serious online daters" really, honestly say that they've put a fraction of that amount of time into getting themselves out in public?

    Think about it. You may not get as many "dates" as ones you can get online with the instant gratification it offers, but I guarantee you that you'll have a much higher ratio of dates with people who you'd actually like to spend time with -- since you already got a chance to interact with them in person before you asked them out.

    It's not easy either way. But for me, I'd rather spend all that time doing things that are fun to begin with, instead of spending all that time on nightly "interviews" with people I've never met.

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  5. If you are a single than no need to be singles any more, Are you looking for a dating partner or a friend to date with ? Try it there on a free online dating site a good site among the best free dating sites.

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