A new book postulates that women who go through 34 dates should find true love around number 35. Maybe I get the "dumb" ones as clients, but as a relationship counselor most of the individuals I have worked with have far exceeded that number.
After all, is love an event we arrive at or a miraculous process that can teach us more about ourselves than almost anything on this earth? Love is the great healer, an amazing adventure and the one thing that can get us to put aside our fears and step into our vunrability, the gateway to our authentic self where everything is possible and lasting fulfillment lies. So, how can we possibly assign a number to that?
Take my friend Kim, who found her husband well after that number. Last month I attended her wedding to witness the love the newlyweds had for one another and to bask in their happiness. I can assure you no one was wondering how many frogs it took to get there. Sure there were plenty of jokes at the shower about her past loves that didn't work out, but those remarks were quickly dispelled at the wedding when it was evident she was beyond wise to have waited for true love.
To believe love is just a numbers game would leave the bravest of us questioning, why even play? We all know the downside. Love can hurt and hurt bad. Nothing can throw us to our knees like a bad relationship filled with betrayal. We create pictures in our minds about how love should look and then when it doesn't, many of us fall apart. But, if you use the path to finding love as a journey of learning and as the ultimate mirror where you get to see the choices you are making and how they play out in the real world, then what's a few nights spent crying into your pillow? After all, nobody has ever drowned in their own tears.
Relationships, good or bad, help teach us about how to make choices that honor who we are, see the places inside of us that are wounded and learn how to apply loving to begin the healing process. We learn how to step out of judgement and into acceptance of our self and others, the keys to a happy life. All this research begs the question: does it matter how many frogs we have to kiss if in the end we find lasting love? My experience working with individuals and research says no.
Of course there is the argument that with so many frogs to choose from we run the risk of too easily dismissing a potential life partner in our quest to find the perfect one. But ultimately where do statistics like this get us? Many of us use these numbers to crucify ourselves, falling into the trap of self judgment. We ask ourselves "what's wrong with me that I can't get this right?" Or, we decide that the problem lies in the ocean of available men. We play the blame card and convince ourselves it's them, not us.
We seek out astrologers and experts (admittedly like me), all in an effort to control this experience we call love. But, what if it's not meant to be controlled or analyzed? What if love is the ultimate tool we are given to help us grow as humans and -- dare I say -- spiritual beings?
From my work in relationships over the past 15 years I know there are dangers, apart from health oriented concerns, to being with partner after partner. Disappointment can create discouragement affecting other areas of our lives. Too many one-off dates that go nowhere can leave the best of us ready to hang up the little black dress in exchange for a pair of pjs and a pint of you know what. But there is truly only one real danger that we must concern ourselves with and that is closing our hearts to the possibility that love exists. There is no denying that everyone needs a breather now and then in order to regroup and recapture parts of ourselves we may have left behind in past relationships that didn't work out the way we had planned
But here are just some of the benefits of keeping your heart open:
At the end of the day, none of this is easy--love can hurt, dating requires risks and often relationships simply don't work out no matter how hard we try. Still, the time comes when once again we must open up to the possibility of love. Regardless of how many partners we may have had, finding love demands that we return to a degree of innocence that had us believing love is possible. Only then can we put our heart and head together and find the partner that nourishes our life, helps us to grow and enjoy the gifts that a wonderfully fulfilling relationship can provide. And please, don't allow any statistic to hang you up in your dating life, we are so much smarter and what we have to give and receive, so much more valuable than a few numbers.