Stop looking for love; start working for it.

Most of us don’t look at our intimate relationships as either a success or a failure. We tend to look at romance as though it should be held to a different standard altogether. After all, it’s not about winning, it’s all about ‘love’, right?!

We’re beguiled into dreaming of a person who just makes us want to love them every single moment of every day. We consume ourselves with the search for “the one”. We read books, we listen to songs, we get caught up in pursuit of never-ending love as if it were a jewel that, once found, will sit on your shelf and shine forever. The reality is, finding someone to love is just one tiny step at the bottom of a large and looming mountain.

To be quite frank, I blame storytelling. It’s not necessarily just mass media or Hollywood’s fault; it’s how we share as a society! When we tell stories about love be it to our friends, family, on our social media — just about anywhere, we just talk about the climaxes. We glow about the successes, the awesome trips, the times when we felt butterflies, the romantic tidbits, but what about everything in between? Why don’t we hear more about how to manage the dull, day-to-day grind in our relationships and still be successful?

In the business world, it’s common knowledge that it takes hard work to climb the ladder of success. If we want to succeed in our careers, we know we have to do something special, we have to stand out. In efforts to be successful, we study hard, we put in the extra time, effort, and focus, and we aim to become experts in our field.

We know this! Why then are we so confused when it comes to having to work hard to succeed in our personal relationships? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the path to our careers has always been clearly portrayed to us as a ladder, a steep climb — in other words — it’s hard, it’s work. Whereas the images that come to mind when we think of love, marriage, and relationships are mostly rose-petal comforters and chubby cupids.

Somewhere along the way we started to think that someone’s love would fall magically into our laps, and then intuitively stay shiny, fit, and trim without much effort or maintenance. Imagine if we started to treat our relationships more like they could actually be a success or a failure. We wouldn’t expect to be doing well if we didn’t put one ounce of real effort into them all week long. We wouldn’t expect to advance if we weren’t outshining competition. If we didn’t learn something new about our partner or our relationship on a regular basis we’d know we need to step it up, or get left behind.

Just as we wouldn’t feel entitled to a promotion at our job if we weren’t putting in the effort, we shouldn’t expect unconditional love and a special place in someone’s heart and life unless we are also actively working to keep ourselves there. It’s not cold-hearted or cynical, it’s just common sense. Only we’ve been conditioned to think of our intimate relationships as if they are immune to logic. I don’t know where this notion came from, but I want it to stop.

We don’t want to fail in our relationships, so let’s apply the basic success principles we all know and love and see where it takes us.

It’s certainly worth a try.