The Love Equation: Where Has All The Serendipity Gone? Katie Patton

Lately, I have been forced to wonder whatever happened to meeting someone the old fashioned way. Doesn’t anyone drink a little too much and meet the love of their life in a bar at one o’clock in the morning anymore? Totally kidding! I, for one, have never met anyone in a bar because to be honest, I am not all that friendly to strangers. As in, if I didn’t come to the bar with you, I most likely don’t want to talk to you and if you try to talk to me, it will definitely be awkward for us both. This is why I perpetually have a drink in my hand; I am saving you from buying me said drink and subjecting the both of us to the awkward New Girl type Valentine’s Day scene that is on the verge of going down. Needless to say, dating is not my forte, but I am here to talk about it with all of you anyway! Here we go…

I really can’t say I was ever an expert on dating or finding love, but I am certain it continues to get more complicated as we catapult further into a world of social media, reality television and increasing standards of perfection and efficiency. I come from the school of high school sweethearts and hometown love; love by way of fate and happenstance. I dated my high school sweetheart for over seven years after I mustered up the courage to leave a note on his car after a baseball game, and I suppose I have expected the same type of innocence ever since. As reality sets in, though, I am beginning to feel like a lone wolf.

Like many of you, I have been seriously contemplating what love has come to these days. I feel like that is something my grandmother would say to me followed by “kids these days”, but I can’t help it; that is the actual thought that went through my mind and I try to be honest with all of you. When we take a step back, it would seem that we now live in a world in which we pay professional matchmakers to help us find love, where every flavor of online dating site one could think of is accessible at the click of a button and for which love is also seen as entertainment by way of reality shows for meeting your significant other. Is there no such thing as a serendipitous “meet cute” anymore? Friends, are we experiencing the death of true love and soulmates?

The popular theory used to be that there was one person for everyone and when the time was right, that person would find their way into your life. Our one true love would be the person who is drawn to us for everything that we are and in spite of the things that we are not. Our mothers (and the movies) tell us that there is someone out there for everyone and one day, that perfect person will come along and you’ll just know. It may sound cheesy, but most of my friends have happened upon their soulmates in a way that really does restore your faith in fate. College sweethearts who met through a mutual friend freshman year; teammates on the university’s rowing team; an interviewer and an interviewee at a law firm that ended up falling in love, and two who actually did meet in a bar thanks to a second friend encouraging the “hello”. But, as I take a broader look, I wonder if these stories are becoming less prevalent. It seems we are turning into a society that has traded in fairy tale endings and fate for the science of love. I wonder if all of the sudden, an equation for happiness exists that we are each supposed to be solving for.

As we look around, we quickly realize love means big business; matchmaking is taking its turn as a cultural phenomenon. Professional matchmakers are now New York Times bestsellers with titles like Get The Guy, authors of advice blogs and columns and leaders of multi-million dollar agencies that help people find love every day. I like to believe that all of these professionals are truly in the business because they want to help their clients find the love they are looking for, complete their lives, but how far are we all willing to go as the “client”? Most matchmakers in the spotlight seem like genuinely lovely people, but it is hard for me to comprehend that true love comes from being “coached” or given an education on how to “get the guy.” Have we become a society that feels we need to follow rules like…

Creating a fast attraction.

The spirit you want to bring to this date is the spirit of play!

Be spontaneous!

And my personal favorite…

You are building a brand- makeup, clothes, the vocabulary you use – you are your own brand.

Build my own brand?! That just seems like a great deal of work for something that is believed, by some, to be largely handled by fate. Don’t get me wrong – I have never been one to back down from a challenge and I am always more than willing to pay my dues to get to where I am headed, but I do not feel like the work ethic I apply to my career should apply to my love life. Do I really have to market myself like the latest fashion concept? I feel like I need to buy ad space in Vogue and hire an agent. Or a matchmaker…

Another crazy concern I have? What if I am actually not spontaneous? If I am not a fly-by-the-seat of my pants type of girl, I doubt I want to convince someone that I am, only to have said person fall in love with the woman I am not. Let’s not even get started on “spirit of play” and “creating fast attraction” because I am just old fashioned enough to think there is such a thing as love at first sight. Attraction is supposed to be a natural occurrence, one that has been referred to as “a spark” between two people who are compatible. Admittedly, I have been out of the game for a minute but I believe in first dates and feeling nervous; holding hands and anxious excitement; butterflies over genuine qualities that make you feel like you can’t help but go in for that first kiss. I am not convinced these feelings can or should be “created” but, perhaps the game has drastically changed.

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  1. I’ve tried online dating on and off. I feel like I was grocery shopping. This melon is rotting. This one is too squishy. On second thought, how do you know when a melon is ripe…I mean right?

  2. I met my boyfriend of almost a year in bar. I was at an Open Mic night with my best friend, to see a couple of other friends perform… I looked over and saw him sitting at the bar, and I had the strangest reaction… one unlike any other reaction I’ve ever had to someone: “Oooo, who is that?” I felt like I HAD to know him. Thanks to some prodding from a friend (he gladly takes full credit for our meeting), and to some VERY happy accidents, we had our first date later that week. I don’t know when, exactly, I fell in love with him. That’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to “love at first sight” (even though I don’t believe in that particular phenomenon). I believe that to TRULY love another person, you have to KNOW them… and you can’t know someone in a glance. Love takes a number of things… (1) Both people being emotionally open and ready for love. (2) Good timing. (3) Honesty/emotional nakedness. Other things are required, too, but timing makes a big difference.

  3. Americans have no time for fortunate accidents. We’re too busy making five year plans to fall in love accidentally. I went to Italy recently, and I cant tell you how many men looked at me as if they met the love of their life. One Italian gentleman told me the top three most important things in every Italian’s life was: 1. God; 2. the love of a woman; and 3. food. If I asked an American man that, I am most certain his top three would be pretty different. American men have something to prove, be it how many beers he can chug in a short time span or how many panties he can drop in a week. American women deserve as much of the blame as men do too. We are impatient and we are romance deprived so we allow for shortcuts. We kid ourself into thinking that bar flirting and the subsequent hookup may become the beginning of some quirky romantic comedy. I think what we need to ask ourselves is, what kind of love story do I want to tell my children? When I’m in the old folk home, am I going to have any worthwhile love stories to tell? Patience is key, I think.

  4. I’ve done my fair share of online dating and encouraged countless friends to “put themselves out there” by going online. My best friend met her fiance on Match.com because I was already on Match. But I was fortunate enough to meet my boyfriend twice in the same bar before we started dating. He was a random New Year’s Eve kiss the first time and then, serendipitously, we were both at the same bar (despite that he lives 2 hours away) later last year in October. We started flirting and we felt that deja vu. I knew this man. Sure enough, his best friend remembered me first. And now we’ve been dating for 6 months, even though the distance. For the hopeful romantic that I am, it was just like the movie I always imagined!

  5. The difference is, the example given here is film…the matchmakers between the lovers in film are the directors and writers. Love doesn’t usually happen in real life like it did in Titanic, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Casablanca…especially not nowadays, and even back in the day people’s romps weren’t always glamorous. My boyfriend and I met up via Facebook because we had a mutual friend and ended up in bed the same night. 2 1/2 years later we are still together with no issues, but it wasn’t as dramatic or fleeting as it sounds…just your typical, everyday “beautiful accident”.

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