Where Is Love? How Do You Find Love?

Question: Where and how do I find love?

Posted Jan 18, 2012

Welcome back to The Attraction Doctor

I often get asked about how to find a love. How do I find a lover? Where is love? How do you find love? Where do you even look for love?

The answer is surprisingly simple. In fact, the very boyfriends, girlfriends, and lovers you are looking for might be right under your nose! The problem is that you are probably filtering them out. You're just not seeing them!

Unfortunately, there are a couple tricks of the mind that make people overlook perfectly good partners. These biases and misperceptions make folks miss good opportunities. But, you don't have to make those mistakes. Learn to overcome the biases...and find the love you're looking for!

Biases and Self-Esteem

You may not believe it, but much of the time you might be biasing the world in your favor. You could be making automatic choices to see the world in ways that preserve your beliefs and self-esteem (Kunda, 1990). In fact, we all do it at times. After all, we all want to see ourselves in the best possible light.

Two of these biases that people use to protect their self-esteem are:

1) Self-Handicapping - before performing a task, individuals often make excuses as to why the task is hard (or impossible) to accomplish. They build it up as more intimidating or scary than it is in reality. If they do fail, these excuses allow them to justify the poor performance (Tice, 1991). In essence, they can "save face". They won't feel that the failure is their fault...and their self-esteem will be spared.

A simple example is a student choosing to not get a good night sleep before a big exam. If he/she fails the test, then the poor performance can be blamed on "lack of sleep", rather than "lack of ability". This again protects their self-esteem, providing a ready-made excuse for failure.

2) Pre-Judging - individuals may also judge others harshly and negatively without due cause as a way of protecting self-esteem. Looking "down" on others in a superior manner can give people a temporary boost to their sense of self (Fein & Spencer, 1997). This is especially true when whole groups of individuals are looked down upon as "inferior" or "not good enough".

A simple example here is the student who makes fun of the "poor kids" in school. Holding that judgment can make the student feel special, powerful, and "better" than others. Those views also protect the individual's self-esteem from any criticism or scrutiny from those "poor kids". After all, as the pre-judging thought process goes, "those people" are worth-less, so their opinions do not count.

Biases and Finding Love

You may be asking...what does this have to do with finding love? The answer is a lot!

Let's take self-handicapping bias to start... Individuals do this a lot in dating situations by building up how "scary" or "intimidating" it is to talk to someone else. They start to create scenarios in their mind about how "unapproachable" or "unfriendly" particular other people look. Essentially, they make excuses by biasing their perception of others as too big, bad, and threatening to date.

Seeing others as "scary" allows the individual to excuse their "failure" to say hello. It allows them to justify their inaction. They can go on believing that they are willing and able to get a date...just not with "that" person. The only problem is that "everyone" is eventually labeled as scary. Sure, the person is snug in their world, still feeling good and believing that they "can" get a date. But, they miss every opportunity to do so!

Similarly, other individuals are biased in their pre-judging whole groups of people as "not good enough" to date. They sit in judgment of others, believing that everyone else needs to prove their worth. They make snap decisions, without really getting to know anyone else. This too provides an ego boost. It allows the individual to stay in control, in the driver's seat, and superior.

However, the problem arises that no one ever measures up. How could they? In order to stay in control and maintain self-esteem, everyone else "has to" be at least a little bit inferior as a date. As a result, these folks miss good opportunities as well. They feel good at the expense of love...not because of it.

How to Find Love

If it hasn't yet become clear by now, please let me summarize... Your ability to find and notice love in your life will be greatly enhanced if you remove the above biases.

1) If everyone seems "scary" or "intimidating" - then you might want to check your self-handicapping. Find other ways to preserve your self-esteem that allow you to actually approach others, which won't require you to build them up as intimidating in your mind. Learn to be curious (see here). Learn to maintain your power while breaking the ice (see here). Learn to not take rejection so personally (see here). But, don't make excuses for not saying "hello"!

2) If you're having a hard time finding someone who is "good enough" - then you might want to check your pre-judging. Are you discounting every person without giving them a chance? Are you passing up individuals for "trivial" reasons. If so, then find other ways to feel good about yourself that don't require being superior or judgmental towards others. Learn to see the best in yourself and others instead. Have a clear and reasonable idea of what you are looking for in a mate (see here). Be grateful when you find it (see here). Give others a little encouragement when they do what you like (see here). Also, realize that you will need to reciprocate and give something back to them too (see here).

By eliminating these biases, you will literally see more opportunities for love. By protecting and enhancing your self-esteem in other ways, you will free yourselves up to notice the positive potential in others. I'm not suggesting that "everyone" will be suitable. But, you at least will have the ability to notice the diamonds while you are sifting through the rough!

Conclusion

Sometimes people get in the habit of thinking others are "intimidating" or "not good enough" to protect their self-esteem while dating. However, when you fall into those traps, you don't see others for who they truly are. So, make sure to watch out for any biases that may have crept into your dating decisions. Give others a chance...and you might just find a lover right under your nose!

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Until next time...happy dating and relating!

Dr. Jeremy Nicholson
The Attraction Doctor

Previous Articles from The Attraction Doctor

References

  • Fein, S., & Spencer, S. J. (1997). Prejudice as self-image maintenance: Affirming the self through derogating others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 31-44.
  • Kunda, Z. (1990). The case for motivated reasoning. Psychological Bulletin, 108, 480-498.
  • Tice, D. M. (1991). Esteem protection or enhancement? Self-handicapping motives and attributions differ by trait self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 711-725.

© 2011 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.