Warning: don’t bother looking for love if you don’t have this

woman looking at watch

When The Supremes first sang “You Can’t Hurry Love” back in 1966 there was no internet, no iPhone, and certainly no online dating. Fifty years later, we are a society that doesn’t like to wait for anything, let alone finding a life partner.

I recently read an article about an entrepreneur who put a call out on Craigslist for a dating manager to essentially pose as her online, flirt with prospective matches and lineup dates. According to the 30-year old creative director, working 50 hours a week simply doesn’t leave her with enough time to sort through all of her OKCupid, Tinder and Happn matches and message those that interest her.

While her strategy might seem to be the epitome of efficiency, it has one tragic flaw. If you don’t have the time to look for dates, it’s unlikely you will have the time to go on dates, let alone develop a lasting relationship.

If you want love in your life you need to create space for love in your life.

That means:

  • making space in your heart by clearing out old heartbreaks and limiting beliefs,
  • making space in your home so that it is receptive to another person and
  • making space in your calendar by leaving blocks of time open so that when someone asks you out or you meet someone you want to ask out, you can make it happen.

If you’ve ever had to “play secretary” to arrange a first date (“How about Tuesday?” “Tuesday, I have book club. Wednesday?” “Sorry basketball…” and so on) you know how frustrating it can be when someone doesn’t have the time for you.

Last year, I was that person. I had a hard time finding room to meet in my calendar and would typically attract similarly “busy” people. Looking back, it’s clear to me that my physical unavailability mirrored my emotional unavailability. I simply wasn’t ready to be in a serious relationship.

This year, I started leaving nights and weekends open for dates. When I did my previous scheduling problems vanished and I started attracting others who were also committed to making time for someone they wanted to know better.

A close relationship with a significant other isn’t just a nice-to-have supplement to your life.

It can literally keep you alive. In his TED talk, Robert Waldinger showed how in a 75-year study of the lives of 724 men, the ones who had good marriages faced fewer illnesses and lived longer.

Investing in a relationship is just as important as investing in a career. However, like a career, it takes time. And this is where many of us are failing. We expect instant results but online (and offline) dating isn’t the same as ordering something from the J. Crew catalogue.

You can’t just choose someone who looks good, have them show up and expect them to be the perfect fit. Typically, you need to spend a lot of time trying on different styles to find something that not only suits you but feels great as well.

“Love don’t come easy. It’s a game of give and take.”

Last year I went on 49 dates with men who were basically good people but not right for me in the long term. On date number 50 I met someone I finally wanted to commit to. I honestly don’t think this would have happened if I hadn’t put in all the previous legwork.

I needed to spend time vetting  matches online, writing and rewriting my profile, messaging strangers, getting out to singles events and meeting a variety of men in person to:

  1. refine what I wanted
  2. set boundaries around what I didn’t and
  3. improve my own sense of what I was capable of attracting.

None of this was a waste. It was a necessary precursor to love.

Finding love is an inner journey as much as an outer one.

And, ultimately, it’s a journey you have to take in person.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for hiring someone to refine your profile, teach you how to flirt or coach you toward greater self-confidence (I’m one of those people myself). Help can be invaluable when you are stuck, starting over or unclear what you’re doing wrong.

But the inner work you need to do yourself. There are no substitutes.

So, while I wish the entrepreneur above all the success in the world, I am doubtful that she will find a meaningful relationship using a dating manager to do the “administrative” work for her.

My guess is she will meet someone as busy as herself and the attraction will fade after they discover they simply aren’t a priority in each other’s lives.

If you don’t have the time to date, don’t date. If you don’t have the time to be in a relationship, don’t look for one.

If The Supremes were to update their song today, it might be “You can’t hurry love no matter how many times that person you pay swipes right on your behalf.” And why would you? It’s in the swiping that you can learn how to be more loving to yourself and to others in the first place.

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