Dating

“You’ll Find Someone When You Stop Looking” Is Terrible Advice

March 16 2015 | CeCe Olisa

When I was single, I was obsessed with getting dating advice from my married friends. I figured their success with coupledom could teach me a thing or two. Now that I’m straddling the single-married line, I see the problem with that point of view: Once you find someone, it’s easy to forget how hard it can be out there.

Advice is often dispensed with a certain forgetfulness. So, before my memory of being single fades, I’m gonna tell it like it really is. The most offensive thing that married people say is: “You’ll find someone when you stop looking.”

This statement is ridiculous. In what other area of life do we apply this kind of logic? Do we find a job when we stop applying? Or a pair of shoes when we stop shopping? If we want to find a loving relationship, how is shutting down the search a wise move?

I’ll admit, before I met my boyfriend, I would “stop looking” a few times a year. I would delete all my online dating profiles, spend nights at the gym, and go to dinner with friends. I would walk around the city wearing big sunglasses and headphones. Unsurprisingly, I wouldn’t meet anyone new. Of course, this was not what I wanted, and I wasn’t doing myself any favors by following this advice.

When people say love will happen when you’re not looking, what they really mean is to relax. One of my worst dating mistakes was being too ready when I was out. I was always looking for that rom-com connection, that instant attraction that would magically turn into love by the end of a song on the dance floor. Most of the time, I probably just ended up looking kind of desperate.

I met my boyfriend at work when I was going through a breakup. So, technically, I wasn’t “on the hunt” at the time our paths crossed. In fact, I didn’t even think of him as a prospect because I was nursing a heartache.

Because he was a coworker, I was super relaxed around him. I wasn’t CeCe the Single Girl, I was just me. And, by the time I decided to flirt with him, I found out he was already attracted to me.

When my married friends weren’t instructing me to stop looking, they were asking if I was making myself available enough. Of course, this piece of advice made me second-guess my not-looking strategy. So, I’d reactivate my dating profile, skip the gym in favor of happy hour, and confidently strut around the city wearing an approachable smile.

When it came to making myself available, my friends weren’t entirely wrong. I did actually meet a few men that way. There was the guy I met in a coffee shop who took my card but never called. And, one guy I dated for a hot minute before he suddenly went MIA. The difficulty of opening yourself is that you face rejection again and again.

Part of my problem was my inclination to reject before I could be rejected. But, when I began to embrace vulnerability, I was more available than ever. Allowing myself to be available without giving up my amazing independence was key. And, that willingness helped to secure my current relationship.

Figuring out how to make my married friends’ advice work for me wasn’t easy, but it can be done. You can be both not looking AND available.

Wedded friends like to tell you to enjoy the single life while smiling adoringly into each other’s eyes. And, it’s time to call BS on this.

Here’s how this advice usually happened to me: I’d share one of my single-girl horror stories, and they’d promise me I actually had it really good. The “till death do us part” bit they’d signed off on? Well, it was just terrible.

But, they couldn’t fool me. I was sure they went home to their partner after their conversation with me and sighed with relief that their single days were a thing of the past.

I get that marriage isn’t rosy all the time, and I believe that being single can be amazing. I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t prepared for the hard work of a relationship when I finally found myself in one. But, focusing on the challenges only tells part of the story.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. I suppose it’s easy for married folks to look back and see how their dating woes led them to their spouse eventually, and then wrap it all up into little bumper sticker-like advice. But, for those who are trying not to be discouraged by dating, it’s helpful to be allowed to be irritated and frustrated at times. It’s also helpful to know that the advice of married people isn’t the Holy Grail.

So, what cliché dating tips do you get that drive you nuts?

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15 responses on ““You’ll Find Someone When You Stop Looking” Is Terrible Advice

  1. A.J.

    Hey, CeCe! I really love what you said about embracing vulnerability, and allowing oneself to be open to romance. I feel that as big girls, we sometimes feel that we have to put up a wall on our romantic feelings, partly because we don’t want to get hurt, partly because we’re not always sure how guys will respond to it, and partly because society doesn’t always allow us the “luxury” of being vulnerable or dainty, even if that’s how we naturally are. But the sooner we realize that we have the right to be open the same way that everyone else does, and not be afraid to show this side of ourselves, it will make a world of difference.
    XOXO!

  2. zambarau98@yahoo.com

    Hey, CeCe! I really love what you said about embracing vulnerability, and allowing oneself to be open to romance. I feel that as big girls, we sometimes feel that we have to put up a wall on our romantic feelings, partly because we don’t want to get hurt, partly because we’re not always sure how guys will respond to it, and partly because society doesn’t always allow us the “luxury” of being vulnerable or dainty, even if that’s how we naturally are. But the sooner we realize that we have the right to be open the same way that everyone else does, and not be afraid to show this side of ourselves, it will make a world of difference.XOXO!

  3. Christina @keeepingcalm

    I gotta say, I read the title for this and instantly thought “but *I* found *my* boyfriend when I stopped looking…”

    And then I read on, and I think you really hit the nail on the head. I had kind of sworn off guys at the time I met my man, because though I wasn’t in a rut, I was sick of the drama that the guys I was dating were throwing around. I resolved to just be myself and hang out with people that I didn’t feel I had to try to impress (which really meant showing up for martial arts training 3-4x a week, where I met my boyfriend). As you said, I made myself “available” but without realizing it. Just being myself and friendly and fun was enough to catch someone’s eye (and he caught mine!) and we’re still together after a year and a half.

    It’s funny because since then I’ve seen some friends try so hard to find someone, to the point that they’ll date anyone who looks at them because they think being in a relationship is some magical thing. It’s not, and I feel like telling them, “You should stop looking and you’ll find someone,” but what I really mean is, “You need to chill out and be yourself, because the version of you that you’re putting out there may not be the best version.”

    So while I definitely think it’s okay to rethink your approach when you’re looking (ie. don’t let yourself become desperate, and don’t feel you have to try to make people like you – you are more than the relationship you are or aren’t in), making sure you’re available and being true to yourself is much better advice than “stop looking and you’ll find someone”.

    Anyways…great post, and great advice 🙂

  4. xtana.1337@gmail.com

    I gotta say, I read the title for this and instantly thought “but *I* found *my* boyfriend when I stopped looking…”

    And then I read on, and I think you really hit the nail on the head. I had kind of sworn off guys at the time I met my man, because though I wasn’t in a rut, I was sick of the drama that the guys I was dating were throwing around. I resolved to just be myself and hang out with people that I didn’t feel I had to try to impress (which really meant showing up for martial arts training 3-4x a week, where I met my boyfriend). As you said, I made myself “available” but without realizing it. Just being myself and friendly and fun was enough to catch someone’s eye (and he caught mine!) and we’re still together after a year and a half.

    It’s funny because since then I’ve seen some friends try so hard to find someone, to the point that they’ll date anyone who looks at them because they think being in a relationship is some magical thing. It’s not, and I feel like telling them, “You should stop looking and you’ll find someone,” but what I really mean is, “You need to chill out and be yourself, because the version of you that you’re putting out there may not be the best version.”

    So while I definitely think it’s okay to rethink your approach when you’re looking (ie. don’t let yourself become desperate, and don’t feel you have to try to make people like you – you are more than the relationship you are or aren’t in), making sure you’re available and being true to yourself is much better advice than “stop looking and you’ll find someone”.

    Anyways…great post, and great advice 🙂

  5. katiehippie

    I realized awhile back that I wasn’t getting any dates because somehow they just don’t come to your door. Well, except for the creepy guy with the strangely large nose who lives with his parents down the street. Oh, and he was drunk at the time. :/ I’m still not getting dates but I know if I actually go somewhere, there’s a much better chance I will meet someone.

  6. katiehippie@yahoo.com

    I realized awhile back that I wasn’t getting any dates because somehow they just don’t come to your door. Well, except for the creepy guy with the strangely large nose who lives with his parents down the street. Oh, and he was drunk at the time. :/ I’m still not getting dates but I know if I actually go somewhere, there’s a much better chance I will meet someone.

  7. Jenna

    I love this post! I’ll admit I am now married and its very true, we do forget how hard it was to be single! But trust me, I am not going to give you any B.S. about how awesome my single days were. Sure I got out of the house a lot more, and hung out with girlfriends more, but I am much happier with a partner. If that weren’t true for many of us, people wouldn’t get married! Sorry, just being honest…

    Anyhow, you summed it up perfectly about the “stop looking” advice: what it truly means is to relax. Be comfortable in your own skin and not constantly “on the prowl”, because yes, it does come off as desperate. If you’re not looking at every person as a potential love interest, potential rom-com moment, then you’re just being yourself and the real you is who he’s going to fall for.

    When I had met a previous boyfriend, I was “on the the prowl” for sure, I think I was trying to be someone that I’m not because I’d had my heart broken. While it did snag me a guy for awhile, he had the wrong idea about me to start with, and it led to a very unhappy relationship.

    When I first met my husband, I was actually not too interested in him because I was still “chasing” after someone else. He was just a sweet guy that was fun to chat with on line. Since I wasn’t thinking about him as a possible date, I wasn’t putting on any sort of “dating face” and was just being myself. As it turned out we had incredible conversations just being honest and vulnerable with each other, and I realized that it was that true connection that I had been missing with everyone else that I dated.

    So the message here is to relax and be yourself, not sizing up everyone you meet as a potential date/boyfriend, but as a potential friend/human. Then you can connect on an intimate human level. That’s just my experience. Good luck! 🙂

  8. jenna@fotofroggy.com

    I love this post! I’ll admit I am now married and its very true, we do forget how hard it was to be single! But trust me, I am not going to give you any B.S. about how awesome my single days were. Sure I got out of the house a lot more, and hung out with girlfriends more, but I am much happier with a partner. If that weren’t true for many of us, people wouldn’t get married! Sorry, just being honest…
    Anyhow, you summed it up perfectly about the “stop looking” advice: what it truly means is to relax. Be comfortable in your own skin and not constantly “on the prowl”, because yes, it does come off as desperate. If you’re not looking at every person as a potential love interest, potential rom-com moment, then you’re just being yourself and the real you is who he’s going to fall for.

    When I had met a previous boyfriend, I was “on the the prowl” for sure, I think I was trying to be someone that I’m not because I’d had my heart broken. While it did snag me a guy for awhile, he had the wrong idea about me to start with, and it led to a very unhappy relationship.

    When I first met my husband, I was actually not too interested in him because I was still “chasing” after someone else. He was just a sweet guy that was fun to chat with on line. Since I wasn’t thinking about him as a possible date, I wasn’t putting on any sort of “dating face” and was just being myself. As it turned out we had incredible conversations just being honest and vulnerable with each other, and I realized that it was that true connection that I had been missing with everyone else that I dated.

    So the message here is to relax and be yourself, not sizing up everyone you meet as a potential date/boyfriend, but as a potential friend/human. Then you can connect on an intimate human level. That’s just my experience. Good luck! 🙂

  9. mary jo Harmon

    I think it’s not just the cliches, but the attitude in general that burns me. I’ve had the sweetest, kindest friends say the most glib, arrogant statements about my single status. I’ve challenged them and said, “you wouldn’t be so quick with your sage wisdom if I shared I wanted a baby and was struggling, why do you think this longing is any different?” I want the same courtesy as ANY longing for something that is outside of their power and control to enable.

    I think their motivation was in the right place, “don’t be too hungry? Or you’re liable to eat anything” but the insensitivity was painful none the less.

  10. harmon.maryjo@gmail.com

    I think it’s not just the cliches, but the attitude in general that burns me. I’ve had the sweetest, kindest friends say the most glib, arrogant statements about my single status. I’ve challenged them and said, “you wouldn’t be so quick with your sage wisdom if I shared I wanted a baby and was struggling, why do you think this longing is any different?” I want the same courtesy as ANY longing for something that is outside of their power and control to enable.
    I think their motivation was in the right place, “don’t be too hungry? Or you’re liable to eat anything” but the insensitivity was painful none the less.

  11. Tetiana Shpek

    That is really a terrible advice. Happiness will not knock on your door and say: Take me)) One should do all possible to be happy. I was trying online dating and I went through disappointment, frustration and once I even met a scammer and gave him money (for a ticket to come to me((( I know it`s stupid…) But I didn`t gave up and finally met my Mr. Right on https://kovla.com/datings/us/evesboro/ . So, never give up and you`ll be happy!

  12. annafedorenko877@gmail.com

    That is really a terrible advice. Happiness will not knock on your door and say: Take me)) One should do all possible to be happy. I was trying online dating and I went through disappointment, frustration and once I even met a scammer and gave him money (for a ticket to come to me((( I know it`s stupid…) But I didn`t gave up and finally met my Mr. Right on https://kovla.com/datings/us/evesboro/ . So, never give up and you`ll be happy!

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