Love Happens When You Least Expect It — NOT!!!


I was talking with a client today and she told me that her friends laughed at her when she mentioned she’d be working with me.

“You don’t need a dating coach,” they crowed. “You’re amazing, successful, and confident. Just take care of your work and family and love will take care of itself.”

Not quite.

“Love Happens When You Least Expect It” is a myth, and it’s a myth I want to dispel from your mind forever.

In this myth, good things happen to you because you’re worthy.

In this myth, the universe provides because you think happy thoughts.

In this myth, the laws of physics and logic do not apply.

Why do I suggest that falling in love without effort is a fantasy?

Because your real life isn’t built for falling in love. If it was, you would have done it already.

“Love Happens When You Least Expect It” is a myth, and it’s a myth I want to dispel from your mind forever.

What is your life built for? Well, take a look at your schedule. Maybe it’ll be obvious.

6:30am-7:30am — Wake up, hit the gym.
8:30am-9:00am — Drive to work. Love those wacky Morning Zoo guys.
9:00am-6:30pm — Work. But don’t date at work. You know how that story ends.
6:30-7:15pm — Drive home from work. Commuting is fun!
7:15-8:30pm — Decompress from work, make dinner for one.
8:30pm-10:30pm — Nighttime activity: TV, book club, surfing the web, putting the kids to bed.

This schedule varies, of course. You may go to the gym after work. You may not commute. You may find television to be a huge waste of time. But chances are, if you’re working, this is approximately what your life looks like during the week.

On weekends, you have more freedom. So, what are you doing with your weekends?

Errands that you can’t do during the week.
Relaxing that you can’t do during the week.
Catching up with friends you don’t see during the week.

Well, at least you could potentially meet someone while you’re dropping off your dry cleaning, right? At least you can go to a bar for a drink and meet someone cute, right?

Sure, you can!

So let me ask you: how many times last year did you get a great date out of someone you met “in real life”?

And, if I might pry, where are those great guys now?

What you’ll probably see when you take a good, clear look at your life is that “meeting quality new people for potential life partnership” is not built into your schedule.

Yet, you probably feel that love should just “happen” because “it’s more organic” when you can just “feel chemistry” with a cute stranger from across the room.

But what stranger? What room?

Your office? Your bedroom? Your living room?

Where are you meeting these promising new romantic prospects?

If love happens when you’re least looking for it, why isn’t it happening to you now?

The reason I’m an advocate of online dating isn’t because it’s perfect. Far from it. It’s because “real life” doesn’t provide for nearly as much opportunity as you need.

If love happens when you’re least looking for it, why isn’t it happening to you now?

To be clear, I’m not saying you need a dating coach. Seriously. If you’ve got a social life like the women from Sex and the City, you probably have no shortage of opportunities.

But you most likely don’t. You probably work long hours, have a bunch of friends who are way over the bar scene, and you have no idea where to meet the love of your life.

And while I can’t promise you that it’s on Match or eHarmony or JDate, I can promise you that it’s NOT happening while you’re on the Stairmaster, while you’re watching TV, or while you’re hanging out in your married friends’ homes.

For some reason, we’re conditioned to think that love should be effortless.

But what, in life, is effortless?

You took classes to get into college, you took classes to learn to drive, and you’ve probably taken classes to learn to cook or play tennis or sell real estate.

Wouldn’t it make sense to take a class on something that’s been eluding you, like love?

Understand: being proactive about love is not the same as being desperate.

Creating room for a social life doesn’t mean you go on 5 blind dates each week.

All I’m talking about is improving your process of meeting single people. That’s it.

If you only go on a handful of dates a year, you’re not giving yourself much of an opportunity to find love. That’s not fair to you, and it’s unlikely to be successful in the long run.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” — Ben Franklin.

Keep waiting for love to happen to you, and you’re pretty much ensuring that comes true.

Love takes effort. If you make that effort, I will help you succeed.

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  1. 1

    You are absolutely right.
    I only started finding loving and happy relationships AFTER I got out of the “love happens when you least expect it” mindset. Because for more than a decade, I was “least expecting it,” and then guess what? NOT GETTING IT!
    I think that motto works for people in their early 20s, a period in which the majority of individuals are single and you naturally run into them in your college classes, place of worship (youth groups) and bars/parties/clubs. Even though the latter group of locations isn’t always the best place to meet individuals for serious relationships, the people I know who did meet their future partners there were all in their 20s, when bars/clubs/parties can be more general social gathering spots versus simply being meat markets.
    If you want to find love and it’s not happening, I say make it happen.

  2. 2

    It’s a combination of thought AND action.
    If you really, really want to meet someone, and have that intention in mind, the thing is that you’re probably not sitting at home every night by yourself. If you set your mind straight, and your priorities straight then perhaps you *will* hire a dating coach or sign up for online dating or put yourself out there. I think the “love happens” happens when you set your intentions and let them power your actions. Because there *are* plenty of people who are putting in all the actions — dating, dating, dating — without the intention and just are on the merry go round. You need both thought of intention and action for it to work.
    I have plenty of friends who complain that they desperately want to meet someone but their actions do not support that statement, which leaves me wondering if they really want to meet someone.
    i tried to fix up a friend via email — the guy was on board — but it took her 2 months to get back to me “because she was in a funk!” Hello! I’m offering you a lifeboat and you refuse to take it!

  3. 3

    I totally agree with you, Evan!   I grow tired of people saying that to me.   I haven’t been expecting it for 37 years and that’s gotten me nowhere fast.

  4. 4

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I get the impression that with a lot of women (those stuck love-wise) working-at-love and/or finding someone online just doesn’t “gel” with the fantasy / idea of how they thought they should meet someone and hence just gets tossed out the window… the thought of having to admit to someone — or themselves — “Oh, we met on match” — causes the whole inner sense of self to collapse… so they keep up the fantasy of meeting someone at the supermarket, him picking up her can of dropped peas (and cue music….btw, I’m 41 and never heard of anyone meeting at the supermarket)…

  5. 5
    Kate Candy

    Yes, Evan,  et al.!   This idea that “love happens when you least expect it” is a dangerous myth.   I say it is dangerous because it allows people to waste valuable time.   I’ve never believed in this saying or some of the other chesnuts that surround romance: “It only takes one.” or “They don’t buy the cow if they can get the milk free.”   As you said, everything that’s worthwhile takes effort.   Malcolm Gladwell says in one of this books that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to  become an expert.   If we applied that to dating, well, whew, we’d all be very tired, but at least we’d all be out there and not sitting on the couch….wishing.     

  6. 6

    Evan , I have a question: You are a big proponent of online dating-which I agree with; it’s a great option.   But what did people do before or eharmony came alone?   From what I understand, the marriage rate is decreasing, so what’s going on?   Shouldn’t tons of people be meeting and getting married with the advent of online datiing?

    1. 6.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I generally don’t take questions on here, but the rise of online dating coincides simply with the rise of computer culture. What did you do before there were cell phones, laptops, iPads and WiFi? It doesn’t really matter – we all spend a lot of time at work and online, and online dating is merely a marriage of technology and need.

      To your point, I couldn’t tell you if the marriage rate is going down or not. If it is, I’d theorize it’s because people are a) too picky, b) too disconnected, c) too lazy, and d) too jaded. Jillian Straus’ book “Unhooked Generation” digs into more detail as to why Gen X has been slow to couple up. But it’s not online dating’s fault, that’s for sure.

      17% of all marriages in the past three years began with online dating, although only less than 5% of singles are even paying for it at a given time. It’s a SPECTACULARLY successful means to meet strangers that you’d never meet in real life.

  7. 7

    I’d have to agree completely.   I hate that expression, particularly because an ex-bf of mine once  told me  that love comes easier and better if you aren’t looking for it.   Considering that I met  him online, and it didn’t last for us, might have something to do with why he said this!   His current gf works for the same company that he does, just in a different department, so clearly his experience has been that online dating does not = success.      Personally, I have been on on and off for three years now, and I go on dates 2 or 3 times a week.   I am having the time of my life!   I have met some great people, and while I haven’t quite met the ONE yet, I know that it’s a numbers game and eventually I will meet him.   I have a date tonight, in fact, with a really sweet, successful and cute guy that  I met online.   This will be our second date.    

    The only  thing I can say about online dating that has been disturbing for me though is that the majority of men that I meet don’t really seem to be willing to  date exclusively, or are holding out for something “better”.   I have to say that I also have adopted that mentality as well.   If something isn’t quite right, it is too easy to just say ‘NEXT!”  I think its part of the steady supply of potential dateable people that allows us to be pickier than we would be if meeting people were more difficult.   Knowing that if this one doesn’t work out, there is always another, and another, and another, gives us the impression that attraction, compatibility,  and chemistry shouldn’t be trusted … that there  needs to be something more jaw-droppingly intense before we actually  stop looking and take down the profile.  Further, I have two or three men that are asking me out on  a regular basis, and a couple in the pipeline, all boyfriend material, and yet no one has asked me to be exclusive with him yet.   Until they do, and make me their girlfriend, I continue to date.   Evan has said, until he is really your boyfriend, the relationship isn’t “real.”   I continue to go by that, and hope that the next one will be the real deal.

  8. 8

    I don’t know if I agree with this one. My friend met her husband over the frozen peas aisle at a local supermarket. And yes, he’s a keeper.

    1. 8.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @myhonestanswer – That’s called luck. It’s the exception.

      CAN you find a job by sitting at home, waiting for a recruiter to find you? Sure. Does it make more sense to proactively seek work on Monster, Craigslist, and LinkedIn? Certainly.

      1. 8.1.1
        The Big A

        In reality, initiative is necessary but not sufficient when it comes to getting a job. You have to have something to offer. And especially when there are other people competing with you for that same job. Meet the qualifications is the bare minimum because many skilled labor jobs won’t even *consider* you if you cannot demonstrate this. But that alone isn’t enough! Quite often what lands you the job is knowing how to sell yourself and that works well it the dating game too.


        So put yourself out there, but keep your expectations down to Earth.

  9. 9

    Lisa #6

    Before online dating, people met at work, at parties, at dances, at concerts, in bars, through blind dates, through classes. The same way they do now. My issue with online dating – even though i continue to do it – is that it fosters a kind of “instant and disposable” mentality. You can plug in some preferences, let the algorithm do its work, and presto! A life partner! But wait, maybe there’s someone just a little bit better, a little bit taller, or cuter, or wealthier, or younger. With so many choices, yet with so many preferences and qualifications, how do you choose?

    1. 9.1

      A lot of choices allows people to move from one online profile to the next profile to the next to the next. Hence, people become a rolling stone. A rolling stone gathers no moss.

    2. 9.2
      The Big A

      Freedom from choice……is what you want,

      Freedom of choice… what you’ve GOT!

  10. 10

    @myhonestanswer — and some people win the lottery. Or live to 99 after smoking three packs a day.

    If one wants to maintain the rom-com fantasy of meeting someone at the supermarket, they better go there every day and have some cute pickup lines to say to guys getting a “for-one” at the hot foods bar at dinner time. It’ll get their odds up for that working out.

  11. 11

    I think people are addicted to sappy, sweet “how we met” stories.   I have a friend who met her husband while on vacation in Italy.   She’s American-she had hired a taxi to drive her around the Amalfi coast and the driver (an Italian) ended up becoming her husband.   I guess it just sounds more romantic than “we met online”.
    Ruby, I agree with the “kid in a candy store” mentality of online dating.   But you can’t beat the convenience and the sheer volume.   There are plenty of nights where I don’t feel like getting dressed up and doing my hair.   It’s great to just be able to “talk” to guys in my sweats!

  12. 12

    I disagree.   Love can happen when you least expect it.   It may not happen all the time, and it may not happen to everyone, but it does happen.

    I was in my early 20s when I met my husband.   I didn’t expect to meet anyone at the time, and I wasn’t dating anyone else.   I had never seen him before, but he’d obviously seen me.   I left work one day and he was standing by my car waiting for me.   We were engaged three months later.

  13. 13

    Donna @14, you are actually the type of person I was talking about when I made this point in my @1 post… other locations apply as well.

    I think that motto works for people in their early 20s, a period in which the majority of individuals are single and you naturally run into them in your college classes, place of worship (youth groups) and bars/parties/clubs.
    For the majority of readers of this blog, who are probably well into their 30s, at least, “love happens when you least expect it” doesn’t hold as true.

  14. 14

    I have to agree with Evan. It’s rare that love just appears when you aren’t expecting it. It’s not just women who believe this either; men fall for this story as well. I have had numerous people tell me those words “It’ll happen when you least expect it.” The problem is that it’s really easy to take that as meaning “I don’t need to do anything about dating anymore.” Which isn’t true.
    My experience has been that a combination of putting in some effort on the dating front, and letting go of expectations, has led me into relationships.
    When I’m too hung up on “finding the perfect someone,” nothing happens.   And when I’m too swamped in “it’ll never happen” thoughts, nothing happens.
    Part of the thing with these “it just happened one day” stories is that they rarely contain the back story. What the people involved went through before stumbling into the person they fell in love with and/or married. Odds are that the majority of people involved in these narratives did their share of searching, breaking out of routines, reflecting on their lives, and whatnot before finally meeting that person.

  15. 15

    I mostly agree. While it CAN happen unexpectedly, it’s nothing that any of us should bank on. I guess I’ve always felt that not expecting it simply meant not being desperate. People put so much effort into their careers, homes and hobbies, and then sit back and expect relationships to happen effortlessly. Why should they?
    I didn’t expect to find love while online dating, and the fact that I didn’t probably made the whole process easier. But I think that goes back to the whole desperation issue, rather than not putting out any effort. I WAS going on dates once or twice a week. The fact that I found love was a bonus and I’m pretty sure it happened for me because I wasn’t taking the process too seriously

  16. 16
    Karl R

    Donna said: (#14)
    “I disagree.   Love can happen when you least expect it.   It may not happen all the time, and it may not happen to everyone, but it does happen.”

    I’ve good jobs when I wasn’t looking for them either, but if you’re unemployed, you’re likely to find one a lot faster if you’re putting effort into your job search.

    Donna said: (#14)
    “I was in my early 20s when I met my husband.   I didn’t expect to meet anyone at the time, and I wasn’t dating anyone else.   I had never seen him before, but he’d obviously seen me.”

    You  proved Evan’s point. Your husband was putting the effort into making a relationship happen.  Your relationship didn’t just “happen.”

    myhonestanswer said: (#9)
    “My friend met her husband over the frozen peas aisle at a local supermarket.”

    I ended up dating one woman because I ended up sitting next to her at the counter of a diner one Saturday morning.

    Of course, I specifically chose the seat next to the attractive young woman, instead of the seats next to middle-aged men. I sat down with every intention of starting a conversation with her, and seeing what kind of opportunity arose. I deliberately offered to track down some information on the local dance scene so I’d have a  reason to contact her again.

    About the only thing that “just happened” was her being in the diner at the same time I was.

    I can manage to shop for groceries without talking to anyone except the cashier and bagger, and if I use self-checkout, not even them. But if I’m actively out  dating, I’ll make a point of starting conversations with attractive women.

    If you look harder into the start of your friends’ relationship, I suspect that one of them made a very deliberate move to initiate things. And that person probably did so habitually with others before that.

  17. 17

    Most grocery stores are busiest on Sunday and Monday.    

  18. 18

    I think this particular myth–or truism, depending on one’s POV–is really a thinly veiled admonition not to be so driven to find someone, anyone, now!!! quick!!! that we begin to give off the sort of big time desperation vibes that drive emotionally healthy people away and instead attract freaks and predators. I’ve always interpreted it as, relax–it’ll happen. Put yourself out there and look, and stay optimistic, but don’t try to force something that isn’t meant to be.

  19. 19
    Node ³

    Online dating does expose you to a lot of people, and it draws people in with the lure of 9999 potential dates for this weekend, but the reality is that the convenience comes at a cost: a massive increase in the effort required to actually find someone.   In an offline setting, a women will often agree to a date after talking for a bit.   Let’s contrast this with online dating hell.
    Hell Level I: The Unwashed Masses
    It takes quite a lot of time to actually read hundreds of women’s   profiles.   Most women will not be suitable for some reason. I could weed some undesirables out with filters, but since I have few inflexible criteria, it would probably also weed out interesting people.   All in all, about 85% of profiles will be eliminated at this stage.
    BONUS: Contrary to most women’s beliefs, men DO read profile text.   The #1 reason I click away from a profile is poor writing, not bad pictures.
    Hell Level II: Silent Treatment
    Now, let’s send some messages to the 15% that made the first cut.   Sending a mass spam email to all of them is unacceptable, so it’s time to expend some more effort crafting unique messages to each prospect.   In a perfect world, that would be time well spent, but my experience is that about 75% of women I message offer no reply at all.   Maybe they’re not serious or just weren’t socialized well, but nonetheless, the effort is wasted.
    Hell Level III: Letters from Europe A Couple Miles Away
    Look, someone replied!   A few (about 20%) will disappoint immediately by giving a boring answer or using very poor grammar (even when their profile is fine).   The most vexing problem, however, is not wanting to meet.   There is scientific evidence that liking someone in email has ZERO ability to predict liking them in person, so I expect women to meet me relatively soon (after 2-3 messages).   Therefore, if a woman refuses to meet in short order, NEXT!   About 85% of women I ask out online turn out to have pen-pal syndrome, defined as directly refusing to meet, evading the question about meeting, or disengaging after I ask to meet.
    Hell Level IV: All is Not What it Seems
    WOW!   I’m actually going out with someone.   Exciting, right?   No so fast!   A not insignificant minority of women online, about 30% in my case, lie about their appearance, age, and/or marital status (posing as divorced when actually only separated).     I instantly end dates where deception is discovered, so they can’t really be counted.
    I’m not sure how to fix the process so it promotes more contacts and more meetings.   Having to go through dozens of profiles and send lots of messages to get one date is extremely tedious, so it’s no wonder that apparently 97% of men quit online dating within three months (this stat may be sensationalized, so take it with a grain of salt).

    1. 19.1

      part of the things I wanted to say is already included in other people’s replies to you. I just wanted to add that as a woman I have a similar experience as you have.
      Maybe we receive more messages than men do, but this doesn’t mean that we don’t have to work hard and select them. Also we do have to make first contact with men whose profile we like, and we face the same difficulties.
      There is a lot of competition, for both genders.

      Hell Level I: The Unwashed Masses
      Women too have to skim through a lot of emails or “winks” or similar notifications. I personally read all profiles, even if I am quite put off by generic ‘hi gorgeous’ messages. I too eliminate the majority of profiles at this stage. Do you expect me to reply to all of them? Some of them are simply not a good match (for example looking for casual dating with no commitment). I do not have the time to explain to all of them why we are not suitable, even less when they clearly didn’t have time to read my profile or to think of something to say to me.
      Hell Level II: Silent Treatment
      It’s the same for women. I think one men out of ten replies to a message if I contact them first. And half of those who reply disappear after one or two messages. I do have the feeling that many of those guys lose interest in someone they haven’t chosen themselves. Said that, I had only 2 dates so far and both the guys were contacted by me the first time. So it is worth making the effort.
      Hell Level III: Letters from Europe A Couple Miles Away
      I see where you are coming from and I don’t like endless chats either. But like most people I don’t have the time to meet everyone in person, so it’s a matter of finding a balance between knowing each other by email and meeting in person. Writing each other for a reasonable amount of time helps eliminating some unsuitable profile.
      Hell Level IV: All is Not What it Seems
      Sorry but do you really think men don’t lie? I was contacted by men who lied about their age, their height, their status, even about their location… I even saw the profile of a colleague of mine who is divorced, with children from his ex wife, with a newborn child from his new girlfriend… And he claimed he is single and childless! I don’t think there is a gender difference, there are liars both among men and women.

      Listen, it took me 35 years and a broken heart to decided to try online dating, and I am finding it very hard, time consuming, disheartening, boring. I am not even dedicating to it all the time I should. But I had to agree with Evan that living and loving my busy life made of work, outdoors activities, drawing classes, gym didn’t give me any chance to find a good partner. Not even a date. And no, I am not that unattractive 😉

      So… Good luck with your search 🙂

  20. 20

    “Chance favors the prepared mind”
    – Louis Pasteur

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