Stop giving other people your unsolicited love advice.
In fact, stop listening to other people’s love advice.
I know you’re afraid of falling that deep again. Of feeling that stupid again. Or of feeling that broken again. I know you think if you just read that self-help book, listen to that dating coach, or set a thousand rules, you can protect your heart from ever breaking again.
But love is a risk that only those willing to put down their shields will conquer.
So forget the f*cking rules. There is no instruction manual to find the person who is meant for you—because they are meant for you no matter what.
The conquest for love is just as much a journey of finding ourselves as it is about finding the person we want to share our lives with. We will all learn lessons along the way. Some will learn them faster and others harder. Others will go on perfectly content repeating the same mistakes that bring them comfort like a security blanket they must carry, no matter how tattered and old it gets. But we all deserve love.
However, it is not your job to dictate what someone’s lesson is or how fast they learn it. Just because a scenario looks and sounds similar doesn’t mean another person will experience it the same way.
I always find it funny that people are quick to lend their advice but then abandon it when it comes to their love lives. The thing is, we’re all a little crazy when it comes to love. I’ve seen the most intelligent, successful people I know unravel like a sweater caught on a nail the second a cute boy looks in their direction. They’re unphased by life’s biggest challenges, but figuring out why he hasn’t called will send them into an unconsolable frenzy.
Once, I had a friend who was never single for long. She wasn’t good on her own. She’d line up dates every night of the week, get drunk on the weekends, and then call her ex-boyfriend, reminiscing about the days when they were in love.
We’d swap dating stories of our failed conquests and attempts at finding someone who made our hearts sing. We’d cry in solidarity over how hopeless the dating scene had become. We’d pour our hearts out into poetry that we’d share in confidence with one another. Then we’d dry our tears and laugh at how ridiculous it all was before attempting it all over again.
She never quite figured out how to be okay on her own before another guy came and swept her off her feet.
After two weeks of knowing this guy, she could no longer relate to the struggle of dating. The next time I attempted to share my experience of yet another love interest gone wrong, she did not hold compassion for me. She could no longer relate. She had found love. She was lucky in love and therefore had the key to finding it. Her advice: try therapy. I have nothing against therapy. I’ve tried it a few times. It wasn’t the suggestion that offended me but rather her inability to relate before going straight into “fix it mode.”
And that’s the problem; we’re constantly trying to “fix” single people as though they’re broken. We take away their agency by acting as though there’s an instruction manual to finding love. If I did what they did—recite my daily affirmations, focus on myself, go to therapy—I’d find love too.
Do this. Say this. Don’t send that text. Stop thinking about it. Then it will come. You have to put yourself out there to meet someone. Focus on yourself. Kiss all the frogs.
All this advice is loaded with shame, and it’s full of crap. Love won’t arrive because you followed steps one through three. It won’t arrive because you repeated a daily mantra every day for a month. And love won’t arrive because you looked too hard or didn’t look at all. Love may not arrive when you want, but rest assured it will always arrive on time.
Once, a boy I had been seeing steadily for months ghosted me on Valentine’s Day. I needed answers. I needed to know why he no longer wanted this. Wanted me. What I had done wrong. For days, I lost my mind trying to figure out his. And when he stopped responding and I couldn’t keep my head from spinning, I called a psychic—a random woman I found during my quick Google search. And while much of what she said did not make sense, she did offer one piece of wisdom I took with me, “You already know the answer. What is your heart telling you?”
She was right. I already knew the answer; I just didn’t want to believe what my heart already knew. He wasn’t the one for me; $75 and an hour of my life later, I decided to listen to what my body was screaming at me. So when he inevitably reached out again, I told him I deserved more than someone who wasn’t certain about me. It didn’t matter what he said next; whatever joy I had felt was no longer there, and that was enough information for me to stop pursuing it.
So, if you’re searching for answers, look inward. All the answers you need are already inside you. That nagging voice inside your head that you’re so desperate to silence is your intuition trying to guide you away from places threatening your peace. Don’t ignore it.
Talk to yourself. Ask yourself the questions you keep asking the world: Does this person make you happy? Does this person bring out the best in you? Does this person take your breath away or make it hard to breathe?
I won’t try to fix you. You don’t need fixing. And listening to anything outside of what you know deep inside your head and heart will only cause anxiety in dating. Anxiety is a beast that feeds on self-doubt. It will grip at your chest and constrain your breathing until you get so dizzy you forget which direction you want to go in if you allow it.
There is only one rule: follow what feels good and let go of what doesn’t.
Life is full of twists and turns, but we will find love no matter which route we take. If we want to follow our hearts to unchartered waters and sail off into the sunset with that gorgeous boy that lights up our world, let’s do it. And when it stops being fun, when it no longer lights our soul on fire, we should let it go.
Not all love will last forever, but when it finally arrives, I imagine it’ll feel as comforting as a cool breeze gently kissing the back of my neck on a hot summer day. And that you can’t plan for.