Meeting the ‘right’ person is, most generally, a function of what we call ‘fate,’ or ‘happenstance,’ or ‘serendipity.’ But there are at least three varieties of fate and strategies within each rubric. Each strategy brings with it both hopes and potential hurts. Each has pros and cons.
As a therapist for many years and in collaboration with many colleagues who, collectively, have seen some thousands of individuals struggling with this particular issue, I have collected a great deal of anecdotal information, summarized for you here in the hopes that it may be helpful in considering the various options available to adults seeking a relationship.
It is important to begin by acknowledging that not all adults who are ‘unattached’ seek attachment. Some people enjoy being single and have little or no interest in shifting their attentions and affections to one individual. Some of these folks enjoy the single life-style termed ‘playing the field,’ while others really have no particular interest in joining with another person, in an intimate or highly personal way, at all.
For those who do seek a partner, there seems to be a correlation between how long they have been trying and hoping to meet the ‘right’ person and how desperate they become. Desperation can lead to compromised judgment that is less apt to get a person what they really want and more likely to create now and ever-more complex problems and heartaches.
The three basic varieties of coming up with a mate include 1) Pure fate or happenstance, 2) Fate enriched by deliberate effort and strategic planning on the part of the adult seeking a partner, and 3) Fate predetermined or controlled by others – usually parents/families or professional matchmakers. Within each type, there are a variety of choices, some of which are delineated here along with some of the more common and predictable pros and cons of each option.
This is ordinarily the first and earliest wish and hope of young people who imagine that they will meet and join with the ‘right’ person at the ‘right’ time. It is predicated only on pure chance meetings and happenstance interactions. It is not planned or strategized for – It simply happens. In different jargons and vernaculars, the phenomenon may be variously described as fate, serendipity, kismet, synchronicity, beshert or simply good luck.
No deliberate effort is required. It just seems to happen. It seems natural and unforced and probably stands at least as good a chance as holding up over time as a relationship founded in most of the other options to be presented and discussed.
Often ignited by youthful infatuation, it tends to be sometime before the reality of the respective characters, personalities and of the relationship surfaces. Sometimes, especially when the response to a seemingly fated union seems evident, it is acted upon quickly during that early phase of infatuation where what is experienced as love is likely an exchange of what we mental health professional might regard as an exchange of positive projections. That is to see, we see in the other person what we need and want to see. Reality bites a bit later on.
Fate With An Assist
There are a good many varieties and ways of assisting fate, the first and perhaps best known, is introduction through a mutual friend. Though may people tend to eschew ‘fixing up’ people they know, this strategy actually is more successful than many others. Some people, on the other hand, make a habit or ‘bobby’ out of doing this frequently and may tend to not be taken very seriously by the people who know them as a consequence.
The introduction is made by someone who knows both people. It is neither random not happenstance. The fixer-upper sees things and qualities in common that s/he believes have a chance if combining in a mutually satisfying way.
If the attempt fails, a friendship can be compromised or lost in the ensuing disappointment. The judgment of the friend-in-common is of the essence and needs to be considered by both parties in deciding whether or not to allow for the attempt to be actualized.
People try to help fate along by going to places where they are more apt to meet people they might be interested in. Bars and clubs are, unfortunately, a popular venue for this activity.
These places are filled with people seeking exactly what you are seeking, a person to be with. With inhibitions lowered and judgment compromised by both the ambiance of the environment and by the intoxicants served, pairings are more apt to occur.
Precisely the same as the Pros. Because the ‘matches’ are facilitated by both the ambiance of the environment and the chemicals possibly ingested, the likelihood of next-morning-remorse is probably increased.
It often occurs to people that they may improve their chances of meeting the right person by seeking out the possibilities through involvement in areas of common interests . A person who enjoys the outdoors and hiking, may figure that in an organization like the Sierra Club, the chances of meeting someone with whom they have something meaningful in common is enhanced. A book club, bowling league or class at an adult school may serve much the same purpose.
The Pros:This strategy introduces the element of common interest beyond that of simply meeting someone and/or of requiring inebriating substances to make it more likely that a ‘hook up’ will occur.
The fact that two people share a common interest in no way guarantees that they are temperamentally or dispositionally suited to each other. It remains, however, one of the more arguably reasonable strategies to consider and try.
And then, of course, there are various types of dating and ‘meeting another person’ services available doth in face-to-face operations as well as on the internet. Usually for a fee, a company will either 1) Offer some professional sounding personality gathering instrument and, in a way that will sound quite scientific, match your ‘Profile’ with others whose data seems to resonate with yours, 2) Allow you the opportunity to present yourself as you wish, sometime with an accompanying video or photos, to people who have paid a fee to have access to their site and listings.
These businesses vary in style, structure, expense and success. In no instances is a company’s self-reported ‘success ration’ to be taken seriously. Personal recommendations from satisfied customers are probable the best – if not the only – way to get any dependable feedback about them. Even so, the experience of any individual is apt to be, on examination, nearly entirely individual and idiosyncratic – having little or no predictive relevance for anyone else.
The Pros:Provides a shopping cart of possibilities that you can peruse and consider from home without having to subject yourself to the bar/club scene or to an activity you are not really interested in at all but in which you might hope to meet the kind of person you are looking for.
People’s self-presentations on these sites and programs can be entire fabrications and there is nor way to really know, until and unless you meet and get to know someone in person, whether or not the membership cost was a worthwhile expenditure.
Many people seeking dates or companionship often find themselves looking over, usually in private, the Personal Ads in free tabloids or legitimate newspapers. Listed by categories, there may be thousands in a single edition.
Browsing in total privacy. No one needs know you are looking!
The person listed as being a ADF/32/NS/ND or D may or may not turn out to be a “Asian Divorced Female, age 32 who neither smokes, drinks nor uses drugs. People can write and submit anything. It is a high risk and possibly high adventure way to meet people. Caveat Emptor!
Without a doubt, each and every one of the above has been successful with some people some of the time. The probabilities and anticipated risks do, however, vary in an observable and palpable way.
Forced (non) Fate
This rubric is not really about fate at all. This is the area that includes culturally accepted arranged marriages and includes both agreements made by families in some cultures while the children are still quite young, marriages arranged by government functionaries for international political purposes as well as those engineered by professional Matchmakers. The Shadken in “Fiddler On The Roof” is an example of the later. For centuries in Eastern European communities, a person identified as a Shadken was in the business, with the approval of the community, of arranging appropriate Shiddachs (marital matches) for members of the community at the requests of the parents.
A popular Broadway song from the musical version of that story by the famous Yiddish writer Shalom Alechem, “Matchmaker, matchmaker- Make me a match” captures the essence of that process. Over the years, this particular practice has become largely an inactive historical anachronism – while family arranged marriages of young people including children remains active in many countries of the world even today.
Relief from the pressure to have to seek, think or make a decision. Satisfying familial and community expectations.
The implied disrespect, infantilization and canceling of the privilege of seeking, thinking and making a decision. In this arrangement, it is assumed that love will follow – eventually. It is neither regarded as a requirement nor crucial ingredient.
No doubt, there are MANY other means and modalities of seeking and finding a relationship. This is but a sampling of some of the more common with some of the more clearly predictable and common benefits and risks. IN all likelihood, there are people for who each of these has worked out very nicely. There are others for whom nothing seems to work as hoped. This information is not apt to change, in any dramatic way, the experience of any individual person.
It isn’t intended to be advice. It is simply information.