Last week we deconstructed a finding love fail. The verdict was that (best case scenario) the guy was just having a bad day or (worst case scenario) he's a clueless, self-absorbed loser.
Unfortunately -- as amusing as it may be to call random people names on the Internet -- I really don't want my blog to be about gratuitously trashing people. I'm not going to waste time fretting over whether or not the name-calling was "nice" of me (because the niceness debate opens a whole new can o'worms). Instead I'd rather focus on constructive advice for people who can't find love and can't figure out why.
When looking for love, there are three key factors:
1. What you're offering. This includes the obvious things like your physical attractiveness, your wit, charm, intelligence, status, wealth, and earning potential, and it also includes valuable character traits such as loyalty, honesty, stability, trustworthiness, fairness (in particular a willingness to divide tasks with your partner fairly), open-mindedness, reasonableness, affectionate-ness (affectionality? cuddliness?), libido, etc. These are just some that came to my mind -- feel free to add any trait one might like in a partner.
2. Your expectations for a partner. See #1, only in reverse. Which traits do you value in a partner?
3. The set of people you meet. That is, your entire social network.
You can change all three of these things in order to work out an effective finding-love strategy.
1. People say that people should love each other for "inner beauty". I agree. The first step to inner-beauty-based love is to think about how you treat other people, and especially about how you treat your partner. (Henceforth in this article your future love-interest shall be referred to as your "partner".) Be considerate of your partner's feelings and make an effort to treat him/her how s/he would like to be treated -- don't just base your actions on how you personally would like him/her to treat you.
That said, physical attraction is a huge and critical part of love and romance. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be as beautiful as you can be and wanting to be with someone who's beautiful. I'd just recommend being realistic about it and not going totally overboard on the skin-deep component. (Also be wary of going overboard on wasteful wealth/status symbols.)
2. A lot problems arise from unrealistic expectations. I hope I don't have to explain what's wrong with saying (a) "It's not fair -- all of the [handsome, rich, outgoing] guys just want docile women with perfect bodies," or (b) "It's not fair -- all of the [sweet, gorgeous] women just want handsome, rich, outgoing guys! Those [sweet, gorgeous] women should stop being so shallow, and love me for who I am on the inside!"
Admittedly, there's also (c) "It's not fair -- even the ugly, unemployed guys who can't talk about anything but 'World of Warcraft' still only want docile women with perfect bodies" (regarding guys who believe in statement (b)), but it's a fallacy to imagine that all straight men suffer from unrealistic expectations. And that brings us to...
3. Meet lots of people! This is the most important factor, and it's a factor that many tend to under-estimate. Finding someone who offers what you want and who wants what you're offering is no small matter. You have to meet a lot of people to expect to find a good match.
I don't mean that you necessarily need to date (or hit on) a lot of people -- often it's better just to have a large network of friends. If you're nervous about approaching a prospect (of your desired gender/orientation), spending time with lots of different friends means frequently meeting new people in an informal context. (Who knows? Maybe your friend's roommate's girlfriend's cousin will turn out to be your soul-mate.) And you can make friends (and perhaps find love) while improving yourself doing social activities you enjoy such as clubs, sports, volunteer work, classes, etc.
The Internet is obviously a fantastic resource for meeting people. However, explaining the best strategies for meeting people online would require a whole additional course (Finding Love 102 perhaps?) which I hope will be offered by one of the other profs of the World Wide Blogiversity.
Now, probably some of you are going "Chanson, how cold and calculating! You must be the least romantic person on the planet. Going on a date with you must be like going on a date with Mr. Spock!" Guilty as charged, as I explained in the disclaimer to my atheist love scene.
But some people like that. ;^)
p.s. Unfortunately my brother has taken down the photos of me dressed as a Vulcan/Romulan for our community-cable Star Trek parody, but maybe I'll try to find them again and re-post them.