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We all have them. I guarantee you have one. I know I do. I have been using it for all of my dating life. Sure, it has been edited and updated over my 47 years of dating and marriage, but much of it has remained the same. You know the list. You have shared it with your friends and maybe the ones who don’t match up to your list.

Why wouldn’t I have one? Those of us who believe in the Law of Attraction (link to Abraham – Hicks) wouldn’t leave home without our checklists. Much like the immensely popular book The Secret, we are told to create a list of what we want in our soulmate, or our dream job, house, car, or whatever we dream about. This law basically says this: we attract what we think about. If we are positive, we will attract positive results.  If we are negative and think negative thoughts, we will attract negative events. How frustrating it is when it seems that bad things keep happening in love…I know. I must be just full of negativity.

We are told to write down what we most desire, look at our lists every day, watch for pessimism or defeatism and eliminate it. Be a positive energy conduit towards our dreams, that we will one day see them come true. Can this be really true? That it is actually in our control to make our dreams come true? Well, yes, and no. We may not get what we want, but we will get what we need.

I believe in the power of the Law of Attraction, and I have written my vision of my perfect partner. And, even in the midst of frequent disappointment and frustration with women I meet, I haven’t given up on my list. Do I get disillusioned, hurt, sad, mad and angry that I can’t seem to find her? Of course I do. Particularly when I am optimistic when we first meet and date, only to see what I thought was the ONE reduced to smoke and ash.

Sensing failure, I google about how to find true love, how to know when I have The One.  I google to see what I am doing wrong. That’s what I do when I am scared or hurt or perplexed…I google for the cure. Sometimes I get more fearful from what I read. Other times I am reassured. Most often, I just stay confused. Searching for answers is not for sissies.

Our culture sells us on the belief that there is an answer for everything. Look at our gains in medical research, technology, wealth building, happiness, and finding love. In fact, millions upon millions of dollars are spend each year on matchmakers, love coaches and all the books on finding your soulmate. I have been one of those searching and paying for answers for many years.

Last week I was struck by seeing an NYT opinion column by Alain de Botton entitled “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person” (see NYT, May 28, 2016). I did a double take when I saw the title. I thought to myself “Great, here is someone trying to catch 5 minutes of attention by being a contrarian. I hope my clients don’t see this.” The first few paragraphs confirmed my suspicions.

But then he changed his tune. What sounded like being condemned to unhappiness and empty marriages no matter who I loved, morphed into pointing his literary finger at us, for our checklists, and our misconceptions about love and attraction. Which, by the way, is also at odds with much of the relationship advice out there.

Much of the this advice says to strategize, to play hard to get, to know what you want in a partner and don’t stop till you find it. Botton says this won’t work. Because, after the buzz of new romance drops off, which it always does, you will find that your love only checks off some of your checklist, and worse, makes you want to be on your own. 

I agree. Matchmakers have a term for this: The “X” Factor.  They find a date for their client, and after investigation, realize that each person checks off all the items on the other’s checklist. Wouldn’t you think this means that they should hit it off, right? Well, in many cases, there is no chemistry and it fizzles out after one or a few dates. Why? Because there wasn’t that unknown factor that makes it work. Chemistry? Maybe. But there can be chemistry and the relationship still can be a disaster.

Botton believes that focusing on our checklist makes us miss those who are our best matches. And, he believes that there is more than one person out there for us. I agree.

So, be aware of your checklist, but leave it at home. I am having a hard time giving up mine, but I am trying.