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Someone Right for You?

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. Many folks are very sincere about their desires to be involved with another person, but are not committed to making it happen. Sincerity is an attitude, while commitment is an action. Sincerity without action does not make anything happen.

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. Processional gamblers, however, do everything in their power to increase the odds in their favor. And professional lovers to everything in their power to increase their possibilities of meeting the person of their dreams.

I am reminded of the story of a young man who regularly prays to God to win the lottery. Day after day, week after week he prays and prays and nothing happens. Then one day, in the middle of his prayers, he hears thunder and lightening and the voice of God booms down upon him. "Charlie, meet me half way, buy a ticket." People tend to pray, wish, hope and dream about finding their ideal mate, but they seldom develop a strategy or plan of action. They spend more time and energy planning a dinner party than the most important human relationship of their lives.

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.

While this myth has romantic overtones, it denies human beings responsibility for their choices. It leaves us at the mercy of some fictitious master plan governing our lives and the freedom to choose is obviated. If, indeed, marriages were made in heaven, then God made a great many mistakes. Rather than attribute those mistakes to God, we should exercise our God-given right to choose and learn how to make more effective choices. God doesn't provide us with a mate - rather God provides us with the ability to choose.

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.

In order to find these potential mates we must develop a strategy. Just as there is more than one house that we can fall in love with, there is more than one potential mate. If we increase the pool of available partners, we can then fall in love with any one of them. The trick is to set up our criteria, take appropriate actions, and then allow for nature to take its course.

I am reminded of a friend who decided that he wanted to marry a woman who was beautiful, had considerable financial backing, and was of the same religion as he. He only dated women after he checked their family's financial standing with Dunn and Bradstreet, who belonged to his church and whom he found to be beautiful. By surrounding himself with rich, beautiful women of the same religion as he, he could then allow himself to fall in love with any one of them.

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 binds us. Love then blooms in the soil of mutual interest, mutual respect, and friends. What my strategy will do is increase the odds of this happening.

Think, for example, of the process we go through in selecting our "dream house." First we develop an idea of what we are looking for: one story, Mediterranean style, four bedrooms, large yard, in a particular geographic area, near schools, etc., and we establish a price range. We may even get quite specific, because, after all, we will be spending a lot of time and money in this house and we want to ensure, as best aspossible, that we will be happy in it. Yet when it comes to choosing a mate we will go to a bar and hope we get lucky. Next we contact a real estate agent and tell the agent our requirements. We also drive around various neighborhoods on our own, read magazines and newspapers, make inquires; in short we do our homework. Then the agent begins to show us around. Not infrequently we may spend many months and view many houses, sometimes hundred of houses and even years, depending on our particular preferences. All along the way we are collecting information and fine tuning our choices. Finally, one day, we step out of the agent's car and find ourselves standing in front of our dream house; it's love at first sight? And that's what we will tell people. We eliminate the fact that we spent many hours, months, years, looking, searching, refining before the "dream house". A similar approach should be used for mate selection. Only with mate selection it is even more difficult since the mate has to choose you as well, whereas the house does not.

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. Yet in spite of this knowledge when it comes to romance we prefer to rely on chance and then we wonder why the divorce rate is so high. If our businesses or dinner parties had as high a failure rate we surely would begin to analyze why and try to do something about it. Well, the same is true for romance. It is clear to me that the old way of mate selection has not been working. It is time for a new way.

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.

We must distinguish between several categories of mate: roommate, playmate, friend and permanent mate. Each of these has its own set of characteristics with some degree of overlap. Many people have not distinguished between them and therefore may be stating that they want a permanent mate where in reality they are seeking a playmate. A permanent mate is some combination of roommate, friend and playmate. Therefore, it might be wise for you to make up three lists of characteristics, one for each of these three types of mates. Once you have developed these lists, merge them. Some characteristics may be eliminated. Intelligence may, for example, be more important in a mate that a playmate; neatness is more important than a roommate than in a friend.

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. Somehow you have to reconcile your self-perception with the perception of others.

Step Three: Separate fantasy from realty. 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 realty. 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. It is similar to the guy who goes to the horse riding stable and tells the person who rents horses that he wants a frisky thoroughbred because he think of himself as a jockey. After he falls off a few times and has to walk back to the stable, he realizes that he should have been with a gentle mare.

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 you 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. Do not participate in activities where the end result determines whether you enjoy yourself. Do not waste your time going to places where the odds are stacked against you: meat (meet) markets, bars, dance clubs, large gatherings, etc. are not places too meet potential mates. 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?

Early Imprinting

The first relationship we observe is that of our parents. This forms a template deep in our unconscious that affects our choice in a mate. Our parents form a model of what relationships are like and what adult males and females are about. As such, these early imprints have a profound effect on our choices of mates and our expectations with respect to a relationship. If this early imprinting was positive we are likely to have satisfying interpersonal relationships and a positive image of others. However, if it is negative, it may well have the opposite effect. Sometimes the effect was so negative, even though we may not be aware of it, it can severely interfere with our interpersonal satisfaction. Repeated destructive relationships, co-dependence, and generally unhealthy relationships may ensue. In these cases, professional intervention may be necessary before you can proceed with some of the steps indicated above.


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