When people want something (a job, a house, a change of scenery), the advice is always the same: “work hard and go get it.” But what about love?
When we want to find love, we’re told to follow an all together different approach: “wait and it will find you.”
In my experience, that’s a bunch of nonsense.
When I was in my early 20s I moved back to NYC after a year of working abroad. I found a reliable job doing something I loved and an apartment that I could afford. Everything was falling into place and I was ready for a relationship that matched where my life was; I wanted something serious. If you’re in the same boat, don’t forget to check out the LOVE TV membership.
I decided it was time to find “the one.”
So I started to look. By my calculations, there were about 8 million people in the city. Since raising kids outside of New York was a non-starter, I could keep my search local. Once I accounted for my gender preference (male), my native language (English) and my desired age range (20-30), I figured there couldn’t be more then 2, maybe 3 million men that fit the bill.
Those were numbers I could work with. After all, I was still pretty young.
To me, love is not serendipitous, it’s something we can seek out with intention. By meeting more men, I felt I could increase the odds of finding the right one for me. He was out there somewhere, I just had to comb through my options until I found him.
Everyone gets a number!
I started the easiest way possible, by giving out my phone number. Everyone who asked, regardless of my initial attraction level, would get a chance.
Walking into a bar was like stepping into Oprah’s shoes. Instead of giving out cars, I was giving out digits. “You get a number! And you get a number!” I remained as open minded as possible, unless someone reeked of out-right danger, they got a follow up.
Even with that, the process moved slowly. I felt as thought I’d put my resume up on a job recruitment site without a cover letter – sure, I was getting a lot of calls, but no one knew what I was really looking for.
So I flipped the script. Instead of me giving my number to men who asked, I started approaching men myself. If this was a numbers game, I figured I’d meet more people if the effort was coming from both sides. I also had more control over who I approached, which felt more targeted.
Because I was the one initiating the conversations, I’d choose locations I loved (the bookstore, a coffee shop, a museum during free nights) and strike up conversations with anyone I found even mildly appealing. I figured we already had something in common based on the location, so I was already a step ahead.
A month or two later I’d been on a lot of dates, but the process felt inefficient. The men I met were nice, but they weren’t necessarily looking for something serious. So I started to explore online dating. I wanted to put my exact requirements out there so I could weed out anyone who wasn’t interested.
I found a website that was mostly text based, rather than just a profile picture with text boxes – Tinder wasn’t going to cut it for finding a soul mate. I’m a writer, and as a writer, I wanted to express myself and my relationship goals. To me, a well worded profile is more effective at introducing two people than a coffee date.
So I sat down and crafted a call for submissions, so to speak. Titled “Not a psycho killer or a scary stalker. Yay!!” I explained what I was looking for: someone who wanted to find their forever partner, who was passionate about what they did in life and would have patience with my long office hours (which I intended on keeping).
I didn’t put a picture. I didn’t describe my looks. This wasn’t about physical attraction, this was about finding my match.
After it went live, I refreshed my inbox to find at least a dozen replies. They just kept coming over the next day or so.
Anyone who wrote more than three sentences got an answer. Anyone who replied with several paragraphs got a date.
One of the first men I met was my age, which made him stand out considering everyone else was at least three years my senior. He had long black hair like Severus Snape and a face that made him look fifteen.
That being said, the date was perfect.
He took me on a historic tour of Chinatown pointing out underground gambling rings and discussing the history of human trafficking. Before meeting up, he’d googled me and read years of blog posts about my travels abroad, learning the things I cared most about. Then we wandered to one of the original pizzerias in NYC, his favorite when he ranked them for a college paper on the subject. He was odd and interesting and I spent the whole date laughing.
As the night was winding down, I asked him where he lived. The answer blew the whole date to bits. He still lived at home. For someone whose main identity revolved around independence, it was a no-go for me.
When we parted ways, he gave me a hug and asked to see me again. I politely let him know that that probably wouldn’t happen.
The next day I continued with the dates, but I found myself comparing other people to that first guy. I texted him despite the standing rejection that I’d issued.
Two weeks later, during a particularly emotional evening, I called him on a whim. He showed up 45 minutes later, the exact time it took to get from his parents house to my apartment.
And in that moment, I let the fate-driven part of love take over. I’d done my job, I searched the entire city for the right person. It turned out that person lived at home deep in Brooklyn, but despite that, he was better than anything I could have hoped for.
Since then he’s cut his Snape-like hair so the world can see his beautiful eyes and at nearly 30, his face looks just as boyish as it did ten years ago. He stands by me through all of my crazy whims and understands that “settled” often means “let’s take our newborn baby to Thailand just because.”
His weird fits mine in a way I never anticipated, and it only took about a thousand dates to find him.