How “Hard” Should You Try to Find Love?

What advice would I give a friend trying to find love?


If you’re going to “try,” try to be the most fulfilled, content, inspired, kind, relaxed person you can be. If you feel your best, you’ll attract the best. (Image: Amy Spencer, Ojai Tea, 2014)

When I was single, I was always on the case to find love. I dated, I socialized, I went online, I scoped out events for cute guys the minute I entered. Which is why the advice that some people gave me was so aggravating. Their suggestion? “Stop trying. The minute you stop looking, for love, you’ll find it.” And while I got the gist of what they were saying—scouring the city with a wild love hunger was affecting my happiness—it also felt a bit defeatist. Like, really? Just sit back and wait for a guy to come knocking? It felt like the equivalent of “Just wait by the phone for a man to call,” which we girls  learned to stop doing long ago. (At least I hope we have?)

But I think there is a line here. The way I see it, “trying” is one thing. And for that I mean: Going online to find love. Asking to be set up. Giving a guy a second chance even when there wasn’t chemistry the first time. If what you want is love, then I say sure, try anything.

But then there’s trying too hard, and that’s another thing entirely. I know, because I’ve been the girl that tried too hard, though I didn’t know it at the time. As I wrote about  in Meeting Your Half-Orange, I cringe when I think about the guys I pushed to like me, the dates I pushed to happen, the parties I waded through in desperation, asking everyone, “Is anyone single here? Have you seen any cute guys?” I remember once hounding my sister once to arrange a set-up with the brother of a friend of hers who was mentioned to me in passing. (Can you follow that?) I’d call my sister every day asking, “Did you talk to R about her brother yet? Have you heard anything? Can you make it happen? Three weeks later, the brother finally told R, who told my sister, who told me: “He said ‘I hear she’s a brunette. I don’t date brunettes…”

God, I felt like a fool. Not only was I trying too hard, but I doing it for some jerk-off (can I say that on here? Trust me, I want to say worse!). The point is, that experience was not good for my self-esteem. I felt like a desperate single woman “on the prowl” just like Aly’s friend, willing to do anything to find a partner. Persistence seems to work with everything else in life, I thought, so why not with love?

Well, because love can’t be earned by hours worked or effort repaid. Finding love is, unfortunately, one of those things we can’t force or control. Try, definitely. But if you feel yourself trying too hard—and by that I mean feeling desperate, turning ugly, feeling down on yourself, hating the search for love—then stop! Please, for your own sake. Stop the cycle that I was in and focus on other things for a minute. You can try again later. The watched pot never boils, and a depressingly-stared-and-glared-at love life won’t heat up either.

Yeah, it sounds unhelpful to suggest sitting back and resting. But sometimes, for your own sanity, you need to! Pick one of the other 135 facets of your life that make you who you are, other than dating—friends, exercise, reading, writing, dancing, cooking, walking, eating—and focus on that for a minute.

And who knows, you may end up being one of those people who (like me) end up saying, “It’s so funny, the minute I stopped trying…” and “It was just when I least expected it…” Remember, clichés become clichés because there’s truth in there.

So if you’re going to try at anything, I’d like to suggest this: Try to be the most authentic person you can be. Try to find things that create a bubbling happiness inside of you whether you’re with someone or not—like cooking for your friends, traveling to far off places, taking some Krav Maga classes, or writing poetry. Try to see the world as wide open as you can, full of all kinds of people you might meet, experiences you might have, and love for family and friends that bursts as big as the romantic one you’re looking for.

Big love,

Amy Signature 4