Don’t Miss this “Accidental” Kind of Romance

Don’t Miss this “Accidental” Kind of RomanceIf this has ever happened to you, you know how frustrating it is.

You’re single. You’re not happy about it. You lament to a friend, someone who is NOT single, and she smiles benevolently.

Then she says the one thing all single people hate to hear: “Maybe if you stop looking for love, you’ll find it.”

Talk about rage-inducing advice. And yet, maybe there’s something there.

Consider this. The guy who invented the microwave oven was actually working on military radar equipment when he accidentally melted some candy in his pocket.[i] Super Glue didn’t start out as a successful adhesive, but as a failed gun part.[ii] And Play-Doh was originally intended to be a cleaning product![iii]

In each case, someone realized what they’d found by mistake was actually a priceless discovery.

What if something like that is happening in your love life? What if you miss an unexpected kind of romance because you’re too busy looking for something else?

The trick isn’t to stop looking for love, no matter what a well-meaning friend may have told you. Rather, the trick is to look for love with eyes wide open, ready to find it wherever and however it pops up.

And even after you’ve found love, don’t stop looking for it.  Because some of the most powerful forms of love are “discovered” only after you become a couple.

I have two strategies for you. One for when you’re single, and one for when you’re dating. Used together, these tips will ensure that you don’t miss out on something amazing.

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The Mistake Everyone Makes When Moving Their Relationship Forward

The Mistake Everyone Makes When Moving Their Relationship ForwardHere’s how relationships are supposed to go:

Meet. Date. Fall in love. Become official. Spend most of your free time together. Get engaged. Get married. Have kids. Live happily ever after.

When you follow the timeline, you know exactly what comes next.

Are you falling in love? Then the next step is to become official. He introduces you as his girlfriend. You change your social media status to “In a relationship.”

Are you together all the time? Then the next step is to get engaged. You watch for signs he’s hiding a large purchase from you, the jewelry store receipt itself if you’re lucky.

You rate your relationships based on where you are in the timeline.

If you’re just dating, you want to be exclusive. If you’re in a relationship, you want to talk about marriage. If you’re stuck in any one stage for too long, you get frustrated. You want to reach the next milestone.

That process is so familiar to us that we take it for granted.

But seeing relationships as a series of goals, each moving you closer to your ultimate destination of happily-ever-after, can backfire.

Where a relationship is in the timeline says little about where it is in terms of what really matters: intimacy, friendship, trust, and respect. Those qualities are what gets you to happily-ever-after, not the wedding ring.

I think back to the Zen proverb that goes:

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

The proverb warns against focusing too much on the end goal. Whether you’re enlightened or not, you still need fuel to cook and water to drink.

These days, that proverb might look more like this:

 “Before marriage, wash dishes, do laundry.
After marriage, wash dishes, do laundry.”

Regardless of whether you’re wearing a wedding ring, the activities that consume your time remain the same. You still have to go to work, buy groceries, keep the house clean, and get a good night’s sleep. Marriage won’t change that.

So, instead of setting your sights on reaching that next relationship goal, set your sights on building a good relationship. When you two are best friends as well as lovers, your relationship moves forward effortlessly.

But there’s a problem with good relationships…

There’s no extra social status associated with being in a healthy relationship. Nothing to “check off” to show you’ve arrived.

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When Date Night Becomes Dull, Do This

When Date Night Becomes Dull, Do This - Boring Date NightsRemember how excited you were about that first date?

You got ready with butterflies in your stomach. Primping and prepping to perfection. You agonized over your outfit. It was nerve-wracking and fun at the same time. Anticipation filled the air.

Now, compare that to “date night” when you’ve been with a guy for a long time. Not quite the same, is it?

Date nights aren’t a bad idea. Given how busy we are, it’s a good thing to set aside routine times specifically for your relationship. But it’s not good if that time has become kind of ho-hum.

And that’s the problem with date nights. They’re repetitive. They DO become ho-hum.

Which works against your relationship.

Here’s where some science comes in handy. Recently, researchers from the University of Georgia looked into why repetitive tasks tend to get boring. They found that repetition isn’t what kills the excitement.

Say you go out tonight. While you’re out, you find yourself thinking, “Oh good. Dinner and a movie. Again. And it’ll be the same thing next week…”

THAT. The expectation that future situations will be just like your current experience will actually make the current experience less exciting. [i]

But not to fear. If you find yourself in a date night rut, there are a couple of things you can do about it.

One is a quick fix you can use right now, and the other will make date nights better for years to come.

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When It’s Time for a Romantic Upgrade

When It’s Time for a Romantic UpgradeI don’t know about you, but the last month before I upgrade my phone is painful. By then, my old phone feels outdated and sluggish.

It doesn’t have enough storage, can’t really handle the apps I use daily, and, maybe worst of all, it’s just not exciting anymore. More than once, I’ve thought it would be really convenient if I happened to drop it in a lake or run over it with my car…just so I can go ahead and get a new one NOW.

I’m not the only one.

According to a recent study, people tend to embrace more reckless behavior with their phones when they’re looking for an excuse to buy the latest model.[i]

You won’t even risk putting a small scratch on your new phone. But your old phone? Eh, you’ll toss it across the pool so a friend can take your picture. Why not?

Which makes me think of something else. Sometimes we do the same thing with relationships.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this. You’re dating someone, things have gone from good, to stale, to not-that-great. But you’re not quite ready to break up.

So maybe you pick a fight or two. Maybe you’re not as supportive as you’d be otherwise. Maybe you get a little careless with the relationship itself because you’re ready for an upgrade.

While this behavior makes perfect sense, it’s not the best way to handle a dying relationship. It just makes the worst part of dating last longer.

If your relationship is in that not-so-great place, there’s a better way. First, you have to answer a critical question (that I’m about to show you). Then, based on your answer, you should take one of two actions.

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