Finding Someone Right for You

Edward A. Dreyfus, Ph.D.

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You've heard it before, "Where have all the good men (women) gone?" or, "All the good ones are taken!" 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 your odds of finding a "compatible mate."

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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. Professional gamblers, however, do everything in their power to increase the odds in their favor. And serious people do 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. Human beings make choices. Many of them are poor choices -- especially when it comes to mate selection.

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.

To find these potential mates we must develop a strategy. Just as there is more than one house 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.

A friend 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, 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 it cannot happen. However, it is unlikely.

More often love grows between two people who have a common connection. It is the common connection that binds us, love then blooms in the soil of mutual interest, mutual respect, and friendship. An intentional strategy for mate selection can 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. 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. We want to insure, as best possible, 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 inquiries; 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 hundreds of houses and even years, depending upon 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, and 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.

Read Dr. Dreyfus' step-by-step strategy outline to help you come up with your own plan.

5/29/98

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Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years. He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation, couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and assessment.

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