Dater X: Love Is About Choice, Not Chance

I’m convinced that 2015 is going to be a year of learning for me. We’re only a few weeks into the new year, and I like to think I’ve already discovered quite a few things about myself, big and small, both in life and in love. But it wasn’t until I got together with my friend Bree for drinks and we got to talking about relationships that I realized that in all of my years of failures and successes, awkward dates and silly mishaps, and love and loss, that I have maintained one constant through it all: I always, ALWAYS  choose to love.

Newly single and struggling with the many “meh” men in the dating pool, Bree was asking me what to do about her seeming lack of options and enthusiasm.

“You just need to keep putting yourself out there, and eventually, something will click. You’ll know when it happens,” I assured her.

“I guess you’re right, but dating becomes such a chore. I’m so over the small talk and having the same conversation over and over, telling him where I went to college and what I do and how many siblings I have,” she said. “I just want to meet someone where the chemistry is immediate and it’s easy and we’re done.”

“But how will you meet that person unless you keep putting yourself out there?  Of course, this is coming from me, the ultimate dating failure, so maybe take my advice with a grain of salt,” I joked.

She smirked.

“The problem is, there are so many nice guys out there that I just don’t want to be with. I’m passing up perfectly nice men because I’m being picky,” she admitted. “Is that terrible?”

Picky or selective?” I asked. “Just because someone is nice doesn’t mean there’s chemistry or that you’re compatible — and you don’t want to settle for a relationship where those things are lacking. If I married the first nice guy who came along, I’d have been divorced 10 times over by now. You can’t wait for it to happen, because tons of men will fall into your lap and none of them might be for you. You have to decide when it’s the right time and the right person, and then choose to make it happen. I’m telling you … keep trying. ”

I felt like Confucius.

“See, that’s why I come to you,” Bree said. “You always choose to love, even after being hurt time and time again. It’s never deterred you from getting back on the horse. You never wait for things to just magically happen; you’re always ready to MAKE them happen. ”

And that’s when it hit me. She’s right. Love is not chance, it’s choice. Of course love has to do with timing and trust and chemistry, all of which you’ll find in the right person, but you have to choose to open yourself up to the possibility of love. You have to CHOOSE to be vulnerable and afraid, which goes back to last week’s post about that love experiment and how important it is to bother getting to know someone for who they really are underneath the way they present themselves on the surface. I’m wired to choose love, and I’ll tell you why. I know how tough relationships are, and I know that even though love should feel “easy” and “effortless,” everything that follows it – the actual relationship stuff — isn’t always. If you wait for someone to come to you, you’re treating love as something that is simple: it comes to you, it chooses you and you fall under its spell. It has all the power, it makes all the decisions for you. From that point on, you’re perhaps more likely to play your hand thinking the odds are in your favor – “if it’s meant to be, it’ll be!” — without trying to make things happen on your own. I know that in order to win the game (love isn’t a really game, of course, but bear with me), you have to play it; you have to be careful, and much like poker, you need to read the person sitting across from you, be cautious with your hand and, ultimately, be willing to go all in. First and foremost, you have to be willing to take that chance. Do you stay or fold?

You’ll probably lose a lot and find out just how shady, conniving and fucked up some people can be, but the more you play – and yes, the more mistakes you also make — the more you learn. You learn that you can’t win every hand, you can’t bet on everything and that timing really does have a lot to do with winning. But most importantly, if you keep making the choice to play, you’re bound to win eventually.