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Unhinged, A Dating Series: You’ll Find it When You Stop Looking

Calling BS on the myth that you can only get into a relationship if you aren’t trying

I have a bone to pick with the world’s love gurus, relationship experts, and dating columnists. I need a word with friends and family who give advice to singles. I think you’re wrong.

“You’ll find love when you stop looking for it,” you’ve all told me. “Focus on yourself and the right person will find you.” 

If I stopped looking, I’d never find anyone. I’d be at home nonstop, only spending time with close friends. Dating isn’t a fun pastime that I did for sh*ts and giggles. I’m guessing most singles wouldn’t be out there dating if they didn’t have to be. (Though, fine, maybe some people do like it.)

“Why are you searching so hard?” someone wrote in response to this column. I don’t know, Richard, I’d like a husband one day.  

“I hope you find love, because it’s not for lack of trying,” said another male Instagrammer. I don’t know if the second person was trying to come off as condescending or not, but it definitely didn’t make me feel better about trying to date.

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to “just stop looking,” then I’d be on a yacht in the Greek Isles somewhere with a cabana boy at my side. 

I get the sentiment behind the saying—happy people attract happy people—but I also think it can be damaging—or at the very least confusing—for a lot of us to hear. Imagine telling someone trying to learn how to cook that if they just think about how good their food will be, then they’ll become the next Julia Childs. 

It’s also unhelpful for someone to hear if they’re sharing the hardships they’re facing in finding a partner.

I have never put myself out there as much as I have since starting this column. If you Google me, my dating articles pop up front and center. Strangers have brought up the series to me at events. Even our interns have said that their professor referenced it in class. 

I’m the last person who could say “Oh, I just gave up looking for love, and I found it.” Instead, I put everything out there, made my intentions clear, and met the person I’m currently dating through this column

This isn’t an article on how to find love like I did, because everyone is different and what worked for me may not work for you (though if you’ve been thinking about launching a dating column, consider this your sign). But it is a rant against those who will tell you to give up searching and just focus on yourself in order to attract a partner. 

There are truths to this way of thinking, of course. You should try and find happiness within yourself first and create the life you want, regardless of who is or isn’t in it. But it doesn’t take the full picture into account, because I’m betting that a lot of you out there have done the work, love yourself, and are proud of the life you have.

If you want to be in a relationship, but you pretend that you’re not looking, it means you’re not being your authentic self, and a potential partner will pick up on that. This could also lead to not making time for dates or continuing to hide out in your comfort zone (aka: in your bed with Netflix). 

With this mindset, you could also be putting off the vibe that you’re not interested in dating. You may miss a potential match if your eyes and heart aren’t open. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve passed up on good men because I wasn’t fully ready

Let’s also not confuse “looking” with “obsessing.” Don’t be that person who can’t pay attention to a conversation with your friends because you’re too distracted scanning the bar for your next boo.

I don’t have the secret formula to finding love. Hell, my relationship may only last a few weeks until I’m back here with you all on the hunt (although, I’m going to bet on myself with this one). 

I am certain of a few things, though. If I never actively tried to find love, I’d likely never know myself as well as I do. You learn a lot about who you are, both in and out of relationships, and dating is essential in knowing what you do and don’t want in a partner. It’s also a good temp check to find out what parts of yourself may need some adjusting.

I also know that, because I was dating with purpose—with extra-large neon flashing signs—I was able to meet someone who I’d never have run across in my normal, everyday life. So, if you’re looking for love and need someone to do a little Tom Cruise couch jump for you as you put yourself out there, come to me. I have your neon signs ready.

If you’re new to Unhinged, catch up on all the dating chats you’ve missed here and follow along at @monicles and @sandiegomag on Instagram to know when a new article drops each week.

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By Nicolle Monico

Nicolle Monico is an award-winning writer and the managing digital editor for San Diego Magazine with more than 15 years of experience in media including Outside Run, JustLuxe and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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