Imagine you want to drive from A to B.
Which road do you take?
The highway or the country road?
Most of us take the highway. It’s quicker, more direct. Taking the highway is a very purpose-driven form of navigating. It’s not a lot of fun, but very efficient.
Now imagine you’re on the highway and there’s a traffic jam. You have to take the next exit and take the country road to continue your journey.
This may seem inconvenient at first: a few kilometers down the road, however, you discover a beautiful castle, a beautiful lake, or a lovely country inn. You may even stop your journey to rest a bit and enjoy the sight.
When you enter the highway again, you may think: “isn’t it wonderful that I was forced to take this detour? Otherwise, I might not have had this beautiful experience.” You enjoyed the ride.
Now, what does this have to do with dating?
Most single people approach the quest for a partner like they approach a journey. They have a very purpose-driven mindset, and they want to get from A to B as fast as possible. The journey from A to B isn’t a lot of fun (most single people tell me that they don’t really enjoy “the dating game”), but it should be efficient.
What most people forget is that life doesn’t work like that. I talk to a lot of couples, and I always ask them the same question: “How did you meet?”
The answer I get is very rarely: “I looked for him/her and found him/her.”
The answers I get are mostly along the lines of: “I went to this party that I didn’t want to go to, and there she was.” Or: “I wasn’t even looking, and we met by accident.” I hear a lot of stories of unplanned events, such as missed planes, changed seats, trial and error.
When we think of successful business people, we tend to think that their journey was a straight line from A to B. We tend to think that they have a business idea, they know exactly what to do, and set out to do it, and – boom – arrive at their success destination. What we don’t think about is the cluelessness, the trial, and error, the sleepless nights, the worry, the product launch which almost ruined the company (but delivered important learnings) – in short, the detours that the business owner had to navigate to get to where he/she is today.
Likewise, when we think of happy couples, we tend to think about them in a “highway” mindset. As if their relationship miraculously just happened. What we don’t think about are the detours two people had to take to get exactly to that place so that they could meet in the first place. We don’t think about the hardships a couple has endured, individually and together, about the failed relationships before this one (which offered important learnings).
In short: what they have been through to get to the point to meet the other person and what they have been through that forged the strong bond between them that we so admire.
I met my husband when I was living in Budapest. He lived in Vienna and Prague. Both our biographies are stories of journeys and detours. Of trials and errors. Of opportunities seized, of risks taken. Of past relationships, which caused each of us to re-think our patterns and focus on what’s really important in a partner. We met online (I approached him. I had become a pro at online dating. I had also become insightful about myself).
He had only joined the platform because a friend told him they should join together (the friend never joined). And he wasn’t even supposed to be there because he wanted to cancel the subscription but missed the date and had to subscribe for another term.
So, it was a series of coincidences, or perhaps missing the right turn at a roundabout and being forced to do another round, but it seemed that this was the master plan life had in mind for us. Had we each taken a different turn or had an A-to-B-as-quickly-as-possible-mindset, we would never have met.
A couple of weeks after we got together, I got the call to move to Luxembourg. What started as a mid-distance relationship turned into a long-distance relationship. It was tough for both of us. But we stuck with it, and after two years decided to get married.
So, what’s my message to you?
If you’re stuck in a rut in your love life, it may be because you’re taking the highway, keep driving the same route, but never arrive. And perhaps that’s a good thing because where you want to go may not be the place you should end up.
Consider taking the country road. Do something different. Meet new people. Start a new hobby. Do the opposite of what you have done before. Stop being single-minded about finding “the one,” and instead seize the opportunities life throws at you (the more you seize, the more will pop up). Go to that party you didn’t want to go to. Visit that lecture on a topic you know nothing about. Be curious and open-minded about people, men, AND women. That new acquaintance may have a brother or sister who may be the one for you. The date you didn’t want to go to turns out to become a good friend and introduces you to his/her colleague from work.
If you feel that you will never meet anybody, ever, take into consideration that this is the detour life wants you to take. If you’re single today, it’s not because you have failed in the past. It’s because the best is yet to come. And while you’re on the road, you may as well enjoy the ride.