"I'm sure you hear this all the time, but it will happen when you're not looking for it."
Next person to say this to me gets spit in their eye.
The well-intended person, of course, means to be encouraging. Comforting, even. Failed relationships? Feeling lonely? Just got off a disappointing date? Once thought you'd be engaged by this age? All of these remarks lately, whether made humorously or not, have been met with the same pithy aphorism:
"Quit worrying about it and it will happen."
Yes, dear friend [or perfect stranger, as the case may be], how stupid of me to desire companionship. You're completely right. I should definitely flip the on/off switch for that.
I can't do that. Because the desire for companionship at any age or stage of life is completely natural and reasonable, and there is nothing wrong whatsoever with possessing it. If you don't, well then, lucky you. But for the rest of us, let me just say it again to reassure you: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU FOR SPENDING TIME THINKING ABOUT YOUR DESIRE TO FIND A SIGNIFICANT OTHER.
Furthermore, I would venture so far as to say there is nothing better you can do about this desire than actively seek companionship. Try out the latest dating app—however silly it sometimes feels. Accept the set-up from your friend. Spend time at the gym, coffee shop, bar, library, or whatever your favorite hang out is, and do your best to be approachable. Put a tiny bit of effort into your appearance before leaving home for Target or the grocery store. Take your headphones out on the train for once and give the guy trying to make eye contact with you a chance. After all, you never know.
I take such issue with this idea of "not looking for it," because in the age of "Netflix & Chill" (arguably one of the worst things to ever happen to dating), if we don't go out into the world keeping an active look-out for romantic potential, we may never meet anyone at all. When people move to a new city and bemoan the fact that they haven't made new friends, no one tells them "it will happen when you stop worrying about it." Why? Because that would be stupid. If a person really wanted to, they could go days…weeks without leaving their apartment. Groceries can be delivered to your front door through an online order. Hulu, Netflix, and video games provide endless distraction and entertainment. Facebook and skype and infinite other forms of social media provide the illusion of human contact. If we allow ourselves to be sucked into this world of unintentional hermitage, how can we complain that we never meet anyone?
Ah, but God forbid we go out looking for love. God forbid we try. With a world of people trying to look "chill" and unattached, in a dating realm where the least emotionally involved person wins, "trying" has become a dirty word indeed.
Well I say down with "chill." Down with unattached and uninvolved and uncommitted and saying insipid things like "this guy I'm talking to" instead of "this guy I've been dating." Down with the notion that looking for love is somehow going to inhibit the process of finding love.
The next time someone says to you "It will happen when you stop looking for it," I have a request. Please repeat the following:
"You're so wise. Hey, on a related note, do you remember playing the game Hide & Seek as a kid?"
Other person: "Um, yeah sure."
You: "Yeah, when you had to be It, did you ever sit still in one spot and wait for the players who were hiding to come find you?"
Other person: "Uh, no. That doesn't make any sense."
You: "OH MY GOD YOU'RE SO RIGHT. IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE DOES IT?"