Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Is "Missed Connections" The New Lottery Ticket Of Love?

A Desperate America Seeks Love At Walmart

Everyday thousands of strangers in our isolated, internet dominated world venture outside the safety of their homes or offices  and, on the basis of a smile, a held gaze,  or the word "Gusendheit", believe they have instantly found their soul mate. The only problem on this path to true love is that these encounters often occur on a  subway train, in a busy box store, a cafe or a crowded street and the object of their affection has passed like a ship in the night, never to be seen again.

Once upon a time that would have been the end of it. But there is good news in 2013 for you hopeless romantics. Craigslist.com features a type of classified section for those believing in love at first sight called "Missed Connections."  This is a place where strangers can publish posts recounting in great detail the place, date, time and physical description of their lost love down to the mole on their left cheek and the hat they were wearing.  

Huffington Post writer Megan Baldwin recently shared her own personal participation in the Craigslist.com dating fad. She related humorously how her daily participation in the classifieds have made her more forward and aggressive in her day-to-day existence out of the belief that she may be missing out on her potential soul mate standing there glancing at the National Inquirer and People Magazine headlines in the checkout line at the grocery store. Suddenly, every public place is a singles bar to Ms. Baldwin. She has even printed up cards with her name and preferred method of contact to hand out at a moments notice to potential Prince Charmings. Even if an interesting person who posts their Missed Connections  on Craigslist.com is looking for someone else,  she urges readers to take it as an opportunity  to get your foot in the door for romance.

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This may seem reckless, stupid, fresh and even dangerous to many readers, but this has become a national phenomenon. Childrens Illustrator Sophie Blackall has even published a book called "Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found,"celebrating these Don Quixote's of Amore, seeking their true love Dulcineas. This has become  so prevalent and such a part of Americana that Psychology Today this month published  research showing where each state  of the union seeks it's "Missed Connection." In California the moonstruck are seeking lost loves last seen at a Zumba class at 24 Hour Fitness Gyms, while Sooners are searching for soul mates they saw on the ferris wheel at the Oklahoma State Fair, and lovelorn Pennsylvanians think they found happiness by the Slurpee machine at a convenience store.

The  Missed Connections fad of 2013 would be funny, like streaking in the 1970s,  if it didn't have such terrible long term consequences. Once again Americans are selecting heterosexual partners with no regard for compatibility. These romantic souls think their passionate feelings will overcome the steep odds against a whimsical relationship actually providing a lifetime of personal fulfillment to each partner. An issue of Marie Claire trumpeted in a series on "Love At First Sight" how each woman who engaged in an impulsive relationship initially believed it  would work for them even if it went against their common sense. But when these relationships fail, there is a heroic, romantic sense attached to them, of dating and mating boldly and recklessly. Our media reinforce that it is okay to fail, because this is the way to live life to it's fullest, or as Megan Baldwin put it, "Embracing the unexpected." Thus we have been conditioned to read about such mirage relationships, watch them on the silver screen or on Netflix, and hum along to the ballads of foolish love on itunes. Now in 2013 we have been given the chance through Missed Connections to act them out as our own real-life romantic fantasy.

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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