It’s Annoying When People Say You’ll Find Love When You Stop Looking, But Here’s Why It’s True

It’s an almost cliché piece of advice, that the right one will come along when you stop searching and least expect it. But why has this piece of wisdom stood the test of time? There are a few reasons it holds true.

  1. They see you falling into patterns with the same wrong type of guy. If you’ve heard the “love when you stop looking” advice, it likely came from a close friend or family member as you jokingly vented about being forever alone. The people who know you best tend to see your patterns of behavior more accurately than you can—and they can see you falling for the wrong type of guy, sometimes over and over again. If your relationships are consistently imploding, something isn’t working. You can’t control the douchebags that sneak their way into your life, but you can control how you approach relationships. When your friends advise you to stop looking, it’s because they see something holding you back.
  2. Actively searching for something is a double-edged sword. If you’re looking for a serious relationship, it’s important to know what you want, at least to an extent. Having an extensive list of non-negotiable needs can cause you to ignore many options that may be an unexpected (yet great) fit for you. Meeting new people with the intention of finding a long-term partner can also cause you to move too quickly, overlook red flags, and make the same relationship mistakes that you’ve made before.
  3. The Places You’re Looking Are All Wrong. Quick—think of the first place you’d go to meet a guy. A bar? A dating app? The places we immediately resort to when looking for love are riddled with wild cards. Not only that, but they’ve become a breeding ground for bad options. Where do short-sighted guys go when they’re looking for a hookup? You got it, dating apps and bars. Getting more involved in things you actually enjoy as an individual is one of the most effective and natural ways to meet people that you mesh well with.
  4. You’re Searching For Something You Won’t Get. You’ve got your life under control; you’ve got a great job, amazing friendships, and you’re genuinely happy. All you need to complete the picture is someone to share it with, right? Wrong. It’s easy to look for love for the wrong reasons, like the desire to feel complete. In order to develop a strong relationship with someone, you must first feel secure in who you are. Feeling like you need a partner to round out your life isn’t healthy. You’ll be more successful with love if you start your search because you want a partner to complement your already-sufficient life.
  5. It’s How Love Happens In All The Rom-Coms. It’s easy to get swept up in the great loves that are portrayed in romantic movies, and we all know that dramatized relationships aren’t accurate in real life. The “unsuspecting girl meets unpredictable guy when she least expects it” storylines are a dime a dozen, but the problem isn’t with how or when these movie characters meet. The girl is often portrayed as lost, unlucky-in-love, and the movies usually end with her finding her true identity through this beautiful cinematic love story. While your real-life, true love won’t be the savior you see in the movies, meeting the one when you’re not seeking him out is a way to get your happy ending.
  6. “The One” Is Probably Right Under Your Nose. Statistically speaking, most 18-34 year olds met their significant other through mutual friends. It makes sense—you gravitate towards people you have things in common with, and so do your besties. There’s bound to be some overlap in interests, values, and senses of humor. When you search for love, you tend to widen your search to include people you don’t normally associate with. Expanding your horizons is a positive, but you might not have to expand them as much as you think.
  7. It’s Like A Snickers Ad: You’re Not You When You’re Searching. When you’re consciously trying to meet the right guy, you’re in a very specific mindset. You’re trying to market yourself as a dateable person, and that can overshadow the real (fantastic) you.
  8. Your Standards Get Lower Over Time. Think of it like shopping—if your first lap through the store proves unsuccessful, you circle back through with your expectations lowered. The same goes for seeking love. When finding someone is at the forefront of your mind, you run the risk of dropping your standards if it doesn’t work out right away.
  9. They tell you to stop looking for love because that’s when they found it. Off the top of my head, most of my loved ones’ successful relationships began when they least expected it. My parents met because my mom roomed with my dad’s sister in college. One of my mentors met her husband through mutual friends three months after she called off an engagement. One of my best friends met her husband years after they graduated high school together, and happened to run into each other at a bar. While hearing that you’ll find love when you stop looking may sound contrived or like vague advice, it just might be advice worth following.
Emily Boudin is a marketing professional based in New York City. She also is an active advocate for women's issues and shares about her experience with sexual assault and abuse.