As Valentine's Day approaches, the subject of finding love always comes up in therapy, "It's nearly impossible to find a compatible partner today," one of my clients told me. He said, "I've tried to date but nothing seems to feel right. We just don't click." I have empathy for the challenges that young adults are facing with high expectations, few dating options, and unclear gender roles in a world where gender identity is fluid. There are so many obstacles to finding love that many give up and settle for a life of discouraged singleness.
This is unacceptable and unnecessary.
When I work with singles I have them identify why they want to date. Is it for love or lust that they look? Many who have a skewed idea of love think they are both one-in-the-same. But they are very different. Love requires a desire for a commitment. Lust requires only attraction. Love grows over time as you build a deep connection. Lust is shallow, quick, and over just as fast as it started. Love requires intention, grace, and forgiveness. Lust doesn't require anything and you can quit for any reason. Most people don't realize they are approaching love with a lust focus hoping it will turn into love, but this seldom works. Lust by definition is not love and can never become love. When you build a relationship that is shallow to begin with, it's difficult to go any deeper once the focus has been on sex and lust. You may grow to have a commitment, but usually it's not love that drives the commitment, but children or a reluctance to change. Love, where people focus on building a relationship first and setting sex to the side, experience a more meaningful relationship that develops slowly. People who are impatient to find love, end up in cycles of lust that continues to frustrate them. These people are the ones who say, "All the good ones are taken." It takes patience to find love. You can't treat the person you want to love like the person you lust as they will leave. When you take time to look into the eyes of the one you're talking to, you can see them. When you look only at their body as a target for conquest, the person remains unseen.
Another thing that makes love different than lust is that you may be looking for love and settling for lust. When I showed the above gentleman that he was searching for a place to put his "round peg" he was accepting all the "square holes" because they were easy, required little commitment from him, and involved little risk of failure or rejection. He needed to look for the girls with the "round holes" that would match his ideals of love. When he saw the drawing on the whiteboard that reflected this concept, he had an "ah-ha" moment. He was looking for love in all the wrong places, with all the wrong girls, and with the wrong focus.
When you don't know what you're looking for, it's easy to find.