Is Following Your Passion Really the Best Way to Find Love?

a woman with fingers crossed

Dilbert creator Scott Adams blogged about passion a couple of weeks ago.

“You often hear advice from successful people that you should “Follow your passion.” That sounds about right. Passion will presumably give you high energy, high resistance to rejection and high determination. Passionate people are more persuasive, too. Those are all good things, right?”

Well, as you know from reading this space, there’s a downside to passion, too. Passion allows you to pursue something (or someone) that may not be good for you in the long run. But at least you have your PASSION, right?

That’s what I told myself when I was a struggling screenwriter in my 20’s. That’s what Adams concludes as well.

“It’s easy to be passionate about things that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion. I’ve been involved in several dozen business ventures over the course of my life and each one made me excited at the start. You might even call it passion. The ones that didn’t work out – and that would be most of them – slowly drained my passion as they failed. The few that worked became more exciting as they succeeded. As a result, it looks as if the projects I was most passionate about were also the ones that worked. But objectively, the passion evolved at the same rate as the success. Success caused passion more than passion caused success.”

Every blue moon, I’ll get an email from a reader who “just knew” that her man was her “soulmate” because they had “electric chemistry” and “immediately slept together”, and here they are, 35 years later, and they’re still just as “passionate as they were the day they met”.

Sometimes giving up on your original passion is the key to opening up to true happiness.

This becomes the argument for following your passion. While littered at the side of the road are the THOUSANDS of people whose passionate relationships ended in tears, devastation, confusion, and frustration, causing years and years of heartbreak.

I, for one, am THRILLED that I gave up my “passion” of being a Hollywood comedy writer, and “compromised” into my current career, which, while not as lucrative or titillating as being Judd Apatow, provides me with a consistent income, no office politics, the ability to set my own hours, no commute, and the ability to make a genuine difference in people’s lives.

In other words, sometimes giving up on your original passion is the key to opening up to true happiness.

Read Adams’ blog entry here and share your thoughts on the power of passion below.

Join our conversation (63 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 21
    Karmic Equation

    I have a passion for singing. I’m not bad. But even if I took voice lessons, I’m only going to be “not bad” or maybe even “pretty good” at best. Because even if I practiced singing 8hrs/day, 7 days/week,   I’ll never be an American Idol. I don’t have the gift of a great voice.

    I also have a passion to shoot pool. But this passion, if I do practice 8hrs/day, 7 days/week, I think I can get pretty good. And if I practiced that much, I might actually be able to go pro. This passion I can succeed in because hard work does pay off when applied to this passion.

    But my passion for pool–since I can’t play 8hrs/day, 7 days/week–I’ll only be better than average and can never go pro, since I want to keep taking home a paycheck from my work-to-live job. Yet if I were willing to give up my job so that I could practice every day all week all year, I might be able to succeed at this passion and achieve my dream, but it requires a huge sacrifice.

    In contrast, my passion for singing gives me personal/emotional satisfaction. And it doesn’t require any sacrifice to be “pretty good”. And just the act of singing feels good and gives me satisfaction. So I’m not going to give that up.

    But do I have enough passion to follow my dream of becoming a pool pro, which requires a big sacrifice? No paycheck, lots of table time.

    The fortunate thing is that I don’t have to give up singing so that I can play pool. I can do both as they’re not mutually exclusive.

    I think our passion for our partners can be analogized to a singing passion; and our passion at working on ourselves to a pool passion. Those two passions are also not mutually exclusive.

    Enjoying the feeling of passion for our partners is easy and feels good. We don’t want to give that up (maybe even when we’re bad singers lol). But when the rubber meets the road and one has to “work at” being our best selves: secure, accepting, uncontrolling, positive, happy–All the qualities that make us easy to love–most people are often unwilling to put in the “table time” and consider the sacrifice too great or the ROI too small.

    To relate back to the passions that Evan and Scott Adams are talking about passion…

    I think there are passions that make you feel good when you’re doing them and passions whose *achievement* makes you feel good when you realize them. In life they’re often unrelated. But if you analogize them to love of others and love of yourself, you can have both, as long as you’re willing to do the work for the passion that requires it: the achievable one which requires hard work.

    Loving others is easy, too easy sometimes. But becoming someone who is easy to love? That takes work.

  2. 22

    I hear what you are saying Evan and get what you are saying Evan true inner core passion for something comes from a deeper place that just liking something.
    It is more like a calling. It is part of who someone is on a deep level. Not oh I like watching films so I have a passion for films. It’s different. I hear what you are saying though.

  3. 23

    In work in order to   know if our desire is coming from and driven by good real healthy passion or detrimental unhealthy obsession.
    Things to seek and tune into internally to ask are. Is my passion coming from my deep inner core and being driven by a natural passionate love and joy for this activity that I want to share with others and create something that will leave the world a better place not harming others.
    Or is it coming from a surface level desire for gratification to fill a void, make me feel important an obsession to feel complete, to be admired, adored ,gain status feel powerful and validated from an external thing or others ignoring any harm I cause or facilitate others in doing to themselves. This is true in business and social relationships settings.
    In relationships do I already feel happiness and love passionately   wanting to connect and   share my love with another who is wanting and feeling the same. So our passion and chemistry are in synch healthy and are a good match. I am love so I give off this vibe and attract someone else who is giving off this vibe. Love = Love = healthy loving relationship
    Or am I obsessed in searching for that love from another person in order to feel complete and fill a void. I give off a empty vibe looking for someone else to fill me up, I attract the same. emptiness plus emptiness = emptiness. Still something missing. Doesn’t work. . And in some cases pain +pain = pain. Not good. Love is in you, in there not out there. So if you want happiness and love and to be in a happy loving relationship, first you have to be love and happiness to attract the same back.

  4. 24

    In my opinion, “passion” is overused and overvalued nowadays, and the reverse holds true for “commitment.”   Passion is what you might feel on a first impression, first drive, first date, first day on the job, and so on. To my mind, “passion” means “energy, excitement, enthusiasm, fun.”
    There’s nothing wrong with it but almost by definition, this kind of     high emotion can’t last. A rookie becomes a veteran (soldier, lawyer, investor, shoe shiner, whatever) because they continue at something even when the fun is gone, even when they don’t want to. In short, commitment (or “devotion” or whatever term you want to use) is long-term and not fun or pleasant. This is why, as many people have written, it shouldn’t be entered into quickly or lightly.
    Personally, I need someone who really shares my valuation of “commitment” over “passion.” It’s why I always skip over online profiles where the woman mentions “passion” two dozen times, as well as wanting a “partner in crime,” a “soulmate” someone to go on “non-stop adventures with” and so on.
    I’m not being snarky when I state I hope those women find their passion matches. However, I’m looking for a slow-paced woman who can become a veteran with me.

  5. 25

    Infatuation and lust   vs Love and commitment Speed.
    The first is based on surface level lust and brain chemistry and lust and fades with time.
    The second is based on the heart and deepens with time.
    For women want love and commitment and   who want to avoid getting their hearts broken again by becoming hormonally bonded by Oxycontin to someone and   something that more than likely is going to frizzle out and it is based on surface level chemically induced lust it is best to keep your knickers on and see if the later develops first before you risk bonding with someone who is wrong for you and most likely will stay around.
    Only the individual woman knows what she wants and is looking for, Lust fling and high risk of broken heart. If this is a patter, then it obviously isn’t working for you.
    Or love and commitment with the best value match for her.
    As men don’t bond the same through Oxycontin,the risks are lower in the broken heart stakes.
    Girlfriends be smart emotionally as well as intellectually. Sadly many intellectually smart women are not so smart when it comes to taking care of their hearts.

  6. 26

    One person’s meat is another person’s poison. I personally would NEVER give up on my passions, no matter how long I’ve been pursuing them. I’ve been acting my whole life, and giving that up would make me the walking dead. I would be an empty shell, just waiting to die. I don’t want the freaking steady paycheck. I would go mad just one day in the 9-5 world.   So what if I never have material things. I’m doing what I love, and that’s all that matters to me. Also, not everyone has to live their lives according to a schedule. Some 60 year olds have as much energy as 22 year olds (my parents are both examples). Why should a 60 or 40 year old have to go for “stability” and “complicated” just because they’ve seen a few more orbits around the Sun? Age has never meant a thing to me; I’m exactly the same person I was 25 years ago, and I’ll be the same at 98.

    1. 26.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      That, personally, is great for you, Plutogirl. But you are not everybody. And you’d be shocked at how you might be much happier doing something else. I thought I couldn’t be happy doing anything but screenwriting. It was my passion. It was my identity. I was WRONG. However it would be next to impossible to realize this until I TRIED something else. You’ll never do that, so you’ll never know.

      Next: stability and money are really, really, really nice. I’m 100 times happier now than I was when I was doing odd jobs to support my “art”. Not saying you would necessarily be. Maybe you really dig ramen noodles, one bedroom apartments and not saving for retirement. Wasn’t for me.

      Oh, and one more thing: I’m not sure where I said that age made a difference or that you had to have a “schedule”. Seems like you’re arguing with something I never said.

      1. 26.1.1

        Maybe I know myself better than you know me. Or maybe you could tell any person on this planet that they would be shocked at how much happier they might be doing something else.   Why not try telling   it to Lindsay Lohan or Carrie Underwood? The fact is,   I don’t want to do something else, so why should I? I’m not telling you to do something else, so why do you say that to me when I already have a happy life? Whatever happened to live and let live?
        I’m not everybody. That’s the point. There is no “one size fits all” that makes person happy. Your “meat” would be poison to me. I’m glad you’re happier making more money, but I have no interest in that, so please, be happy for me, and don’t tell me to make a different choice. And there is a huge spectrum in between the ramen noodles and being super wealthy. As an environmentalist, I find meaning in a scaled down life without a lot of things that equates to treading lightly on the Earth.
        The issue  about age making a difference or having to have a “schedule” wasn’t yours; it was made by another commenter on this site.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          a) Okay, Plutogirl. Live and let live. You’re clearly very happy and well-adjusted to start fighting with a stranger who found an alternative path from his original passion and, sure enough, magically got happier. That’s my advice. I’m sticking with it.

          b) It’s not like I came out into your bedroom and told you that you had to change. I write a free online advice column where people ask me questions. Obviously, if you disagree with my answer, there is no one-size-fits-all. But that doesn’t mean that some answers aren’t better than others. Good luck to you.

        2. Plutogirl

          Thanks, Evan. I admit I have an agenda, which is to encourage and inspire people to follow their dreams and not “sell out” for the money.   I also admit to being a radical who loathes capitalism. That is why I wrote the response I did.   I can see how writing an advice column helping people find love would be rewarding and meaningful. So thank you for the good wishes, and good luck to you too.

  7. 27

    @ Evan & Plutogirl, I believe in middle ground, personally. I’m probably selling out in that I work for a large corporation and doing pretty boring stuff instead of developing the new Google or Facebook or what have you. But at least I’m doing what I enjoy, and do not dread going to work every morning. I also have a full life outside of work, and a schedule that allows me to pursue things I enjoy.
    But how about this one… I have two children that are finishing high school and college next year, both hellbent on pursuing their passion. I don’t have it in me to advise them to sell out like their mother did. I think they should at least give their passions a try, like Evan did. If, ten years from now, they come to a realization that their passion isn’t working out, they can always settle then, but at least it’ll be their decision, based upon years of experience. They both know there is a limit to how far they can pursue their passion (I won’t be able to support them financially in their adulthood; they’ve seen my bank accounts and know that well; so their passion will have to pay at least for ramen and a one bedroom apartment.)

  8. 28

    It strikes me that Evan does have passion for what he does. It would be really really hard to do what he does if he didn’t. Its just not the same passion he started out with in life, he had to find something new and grow into his passion for it.
    I believe the same is true with relationships. If you pursue the  instantaneous  passion in men, you might  continuously  be  disappointed  with the results. But if you grow into your feelings with a man who treats you well and is consistent, your passion for him might grow over time. I would prefer the slow and steady burn of a nice relationship compared to the fireworks of a 2-3 month affair.

  9. 29

    @Evan 29
    Why does following ones art have to be Ramen noodles and one bedroom apartments?    Many writers and artists make it big following their passion.   Me thinks thou dost protest too much

    1. 29.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Joel – “Many artists make it big following their passion.”

      False. Very few artists make it big following their passion.

      It’s the belief that she’s going to be the next Julia Roberts or Lady Gaga or Donna Karan or whatever that leads tens of thousands of women to move to Los Angeles. You only know the ones you’ve heard of. You haven’t acknowledged the many depressed ones who are living on ramen noodles in Hollywood, the ones who went back home to Okalahoma to start families, or the ones who chose more practical careers instead.

      It’s a FACT that very few people make it big in Hollywood, for example. It’s not an opinion.

  10. 30

    @ Speed #26:
    I don’t think you necessarily become a veteran when the fun is gone, but when the fun drops below the desire to excel.
    @ Rose #27:
    I would hate to be bonded by oxycontin to anyone.

  11. 31

    Yes, but that can be said of any profession.   Or any endeavor.   Many want to get into Harvard, a large handful do.   Just as many wish to be screenwriters, and a large handful do.  
    The point is, that people who follow their passion do make it.   Those who fail or “fail” do so for many reasons, but either the interest isn’t strong enough or the planning is too rocky or they are burdened too soon with responsibilities.
    My earlier point was, though, that following one’s profesional calling does not have to be Ramen noodles the whole way through.   One can have a job and do the writing, for example, at night.   That model has worked for many.   
    I do get the impression that you wish to discourage people from passion.   It is what make life very grand

    1. 31.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Wrong, Joel. The odds of becoming a successful and working writer with a long career and not having to support one’s self with a day job is astronomically low. Most other careers are closer to meritocracies. You go to law school, you go to med school, you go to business school, you’ll most likely land on your feet. Not so with a career in the arts.

      Creative people are more likely to be depressed and bipolar than the general population by far (see Jonah Lehrer’s “Imagine”), which isn’t an accusation, but an observation. When you put all your eggs into your passion, and you don’t get to really ply that passion professionally, life can be pretty darned frustrating. If you can be fine with your passion as a hobby – community theater, small poetry readings, local choirs, that’s cool. But making a living at your artistic passion is rare indeed – and there’s often a great cost to those who don’t look beyond their passion for income.

  12. 32

      Oh I so do not agree with this.    All kinds of writers and artists and screenwriters have made it big, doubling up on jobs or living low for a long while and pulling through.    What made you want to become a screenwriter in the first place?   People doing movies, making them happen.    Stop discouraging everyone.   You sound like you are trying to talk people out of it.   And yes, there are highs and lows in the arts, but there are such things in the “normal” world as well.   Look at the “mothers” staying at home who kill their own kids or the “nice, sane 9 to 5” neighbor who goes bezerk and shoots kids.   There are lawyers and doctors who are bipolar criminal fill in the blank everything.    The writing life and the artistic life are difficult but hugely rewarding to those who pull through.  

    1. 32.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      You don’t seem to understand, Yolanda. The number of people who “make it” is MINISCULE. But the possibility of making people laugh for a living, or playing basketball for a living, or painting pictures for a living is so tantalizing that hundreds of thousands of people try. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. It DOES mean that you shouldn’t be so fixated on your passion so as to make yourself miserable. People who have aspirations that go unfulfilled (like making a living at art) are often highly unhappy people, and all they’d have to do to get happy was shift their goal. It worked for me, and I would suggest it could work for lots of people as well, if they had the wherewithal to realize that you CAN be happy at another profession.

  13. 33

    FWIW Evan, I’m with you in that, generally speaking, there’s no money in creative art. Yes, a few people make it big. A few people also hit the jackpot; doesn’t mean we should all start buying lottery tickets. I can only speak for writing, as that is the only field I’ve had some exposure to. I met someone at an annual charity brunch three years ago that was a published writer and had a book in the works. After we met, she had one book come out (I bought a copy) and got an advance for the sequel. At the next annual brunch however, I didn’t see her. A mutual friend told me that this woman was broke, and could not afford to pay the $40 for the brunch. She also lives with a roommate. She is in her 50s. She does not have a family or kids, and still, she cannot even support her own self with her trade. And she is a published writer, something most people that try to write and submit will never be. It is insanely hard to make money with writing, especially these days. IMO there is nothing wrong with giving your passion a try for a year or two, then if it doesn’t pan out, finding another profession in a similar field, that pays (like you did), and/or pursuing your passion on your free time as a hobby. I’ve told your story to my sons a few times, by the way. The message I want them to get from it is that their future may not turn out exactly as they want it to at 17, but that, along the way, they may discover a profession they don’t even know exists, and become successful at that. I’m not sure if I believe in deciding what you want to do once when you’re a teenager, and then staying the course for the rest of your life, no matter what. I expect talented people (like you, or like my kids) to be more flexible than that.

  14. 34

    Goldie #39
    That’s why so many people in the arts teach. Your writer acquaintance could teach, or work/freelance as a copywriter or editor, and still have time to write. Unless a book is a big best-seller, you don’t make that much money off it. However, thinking it’s going to only take a year or two to make it, isn’t very realistic, so you’ll need to plan on supporting yourself some other way for at least 3-5 years.

  15. 35

    I’ve got to weigh in on this one, too.
    Folks, Evan is objectively correct when he says that making it in the creative arts is next to impossible.   If you don’t believe him, look up your favorite creative arts profession in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor:
    I live in Northern California and have worked and volunteered in the visual and performing arts areas for over 20 years.   I am friends with “professionals” in the business.   These are people who are lucky enough to have full-time work in their desired fields.   Of these people, virtually none of them has a stable income (and up until now with Obamacare) and health benefits except for those who chose to go into teaching.   If you’re creative and want to make money without teaching, your best shot is by creating iPhone applications, imho.

  16. 36

    A lot of artists and writers freelance while also making earnings through a stable job. I know a lot of people in the art field, dated some artists too. It’s true, the opportunities are very slim, very competitive, and it’s  difficult  to live on a stable income that way. It’s a shame because I admire artistic talent and once considered going that route too as either a comic book artist, fashion designer or video game  character  designer.   I had to be honest with myself and realize it wasn’t wise to follow that as my career, especially after seeing how so many people were more creative and artistic than myself. So perhaps some would say I “compromised” into my current career of library and information  services and  I love it. Plus it pays well and I don’t have to work long hours.

  17. 37

    Rochelle #42
    Actually, I have a friend who works as a video game character designer. He makes a six-figure income working for a video game company, a lot more than when he was self-employed as an animator. I think, in many cases, it’s the self-employment and the pursuit of fine art as a profession (rather than doing commercial work), that makes it more difficult to make a living.

  18. 38

    I am going to weigh in on this one too…I live in Northern California now, but was born and raised in Los Angeles. I met so many people who were trying to make it in either the music or entertainment industry and most of them, except one of my childhood friends, did not. I also went to high school withkid young man who was in one movie as a kid, but could not get any other acting roles. As far as being a screenwriter was concerned, I do not know anyone who made it. I am in my early 50s and my parents, as well as many of the parents of my generation told us to go to college and obtain practical degrees that would enable us to secure gainful employment (because they had no intention of supporting us indefinitely). For those of us who were determined to make it in the entertainment business because that was our “passion” and we just knew that we would be the exception to the rule, we were told to pursue that passion, but have a double major or minor in a field that would provide gainful employment as a backup if our dream did not pan out. It didn’t and those business, computer science, and engineering backup degrees were the ones that paid the bills. The Radio, Television, and Film on the other hand, turned out to be a waste of money.  
    The old Gladys Knight song, “Midnight Train to Georgia” comes to mind. It is about a man who could not make it in the entertainment industry in L.A., decides to go back home to Georgia, and his girlfriend follows him.

  19. 39

    I am with Evan on abandoning hopeless passion.   During my career, UK manufacturing lost 90% of it’s workforce.   A passion for engineering doesn’t keep you employed in those circumstances.   Furthermore, I agree that trades with low entry barriers, such as, no doubt, script writing, are very hard to develop into remunerative work.   Lawyers, accountants, doctors and to some extent engineers, push the weak overboard before they are admitted into the profession.   If you make it through onto the boat, you rise and fall with the tide. (Desperately trying to keep the metaphor consistent.   Still needs work).

  20. 40
    Design girl

    I have many passions including painting, children’s illustration, guitar,   photography, graphic design. Graphic design was the one that supported me…paid work seems to find me easily.
    By analogy, I have been attracted to various men who were not attracted to me…and then I was attracted to my husband, who loved me back.
    So I believe there is this   push and pull of the universe, and you have to respect its Flow…
    not stubbornly asserting your own will and vision at all times.
    This is in response to those who say they know exactly what they want to do, and not doing it is a failure…are you really so wise and perfect that you always know the best path for your life?
    It seems that Evan helps many people on this site, and perhaps the universe was more in need of that than another screenplay…?
    Perhaps both in work and dating, one needs to be not focused on getting exactly what one wants, but be a bit more open minded and receptive. That is my view of the pursuit of passion.

    (disclaimer…yes I do have religious beliefs…and yes I cone from an Eastern background!)

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