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At Rule No. 1, our work is about helping leaders, teams, brands, and companies be uniquely and gloriously themselves so they can thrive in the world.
A big part of that is reconnecting with our humanity and bringing it into our workplaces — including, and especially, love.
This article will focus on love. But not from a professional perspective (whatever the heck that means). This article will focus on love in our personal lives. Specifically, how to find true love.
Okay, so I know what you’re thinking…
What in the world does a bald, middle-aged, divorced guy with a horribly-deviated septum (yeah, a doctor once told me that) know about romance? What in the world can he tell me about my love life?
And…why is he even trying?
I hear you.
Don’t fret. The advice I’ll share is based on what I’ve learned in my professional life about effective communication, building brands, and marketing. But more importantly, it’s an approach I’ve used personally to find the perfect woman for me. We met online and have been together for 11 amazing years. I credit much of the success and joy of our relationship to the way we met and how we began our relationship. So if you’re single and would prefer not to be, and especially if you’re online dating, I can help.
And you don’t have to take my word for it. This article is a joint effort between me and my amazing wife, Josette. (And yes, she is the aforementioned “perfect woman for me”.)
Here’s how it works: Before what I’ve written, there’s an “Adam”. Before Josette’s commentary there’s a “Josette”. To make it easier, Josette’s brilliant words are in italics. Genius huh?
Also, if you enjoy this article and want more detail, please check out the video of Josette and I discussing our perspectives on what it takes to find true love. You can find it here.
Josette: If you are single and are happy with that status, keep reading. This advice works for all relationships — from romantic to professional. Even if you are looking for something casual, you will enjoy it more if you show up fully, as yourself. Oh, and also, think about how many great things you’ve found in life when you weren’t looking. I, for one, found Adam. More on that next.
Adam: In short, my strategy for finding true love was that I followed rule number one: I was entirely myself.
Josette: I can attest to the fact, almost 12 years later, that he was, in fact, truly himself. I was actually leaving the dating scene and canceling my account when I saw his profile. Even upon reaching out to him to comment on how outstanding his profile was, my intention was not to date. But there was something clearly intriguing about this guy’s profile — his sense of humor, a bit of cynicism, clear, unexpected and brilliant thinking, and did I mention his sense of humor??? I reached out to say, ‘great profile and good luck!’ The next thing I knew we were on the phone and the conversation was effortless.
Adam: What I found during my, thankfully brief dating stint was that people make the same mistakes in their dating lives that they make in their professional lives — they try to be someone they’re not, or they expend a lot of energy behaving in the ways they think they’re “supposed to” behave instead of being authentically themselves.
[A quick note about authenticity because this is especially important when it comes to dating: Authenticity doesn’t mean expressing every thought or acting on every urge or impulse you have. Authenticity is not an excuse for being an asshole. You still have to be respectful. You still have to be kind. If respect and kindness are fundamentally incompatible with who you authentically are, then I’d recommend some serious soul searching before you start dating.]
So, here are my rules for dating and love. If you want the full story and an inside view into how my own relationship developed, make sure to watch the video: there’s a link above and at the bottom of this article.
Rule No. 3 — Know who you are. You don’t have to be a zen master or jedi knight. But before you can have a meaningful relationship with someone else, it’s critical that you have some basic understanding of your self. Take some time to think about who you really are. Beneath the façade and the clichés. What do you really yearn for? What makes you shine? What are your dark sides and what triggers them? What do you want to learn from a partner and what do you yearn to share with another? A bit of self-understanding goes a long way toward helping you figure out who might be a good match for you.
Josette: I know who I am. And anyone who knows me knows that I show up as my full authentic self always (almost always). It’s not something I even think about. I realized a long time ago that trying to be anything other than what I really am was too damn exhausting, and the path away from any kind of real joy and fulfillment. But my online dating profile didn’t quite reflect that. Adam has even said that he never would have reached out to me based on my profile. Not that it was bad, but it was definitely unremarkable- and didn’t quite capture the essence of me.
When I found myself single again, I got caught in trap of holding some of the more polarizing parts of my personality back. I created my profile at a time when all I wanted to do was share the “improved” parts of my “self”. The good news is I never ended up using my online tools, and spared myself a lot of bad dates. I am sure of that now!
The relationships I had after my divorce were with people I had met in real life. After I ended the last one, I was ready for a break, and went online to cancel my account…best laid plans…thanks Adam.
Adam: Rule No. 2 — Look for love in all the right places. The profiles you have to write for online dating sites ask you to fill in lots of demographic information. Age. Income. Profession. Education… And they allow you to search for your soulmate using these same filters as if those are the attributes that drive true love and fulfilling relationships. Pro tip: they’re not. And here’s another shocker: neither is physical appearance.
Josette: Adam’s photos on his profile were non-descript — sunglasses and a baseball cap made it nearly impossible to really get a sense of what he looked like. I know what you are thinking, “red flag”- but his words were so captivating, that I thought “I want to be his friend, I’ll see what he looks like when we meet, but it really doesn’t matter.”
What I saw was a really cute, well dressed, well put together guy. But if I have to be honest, I tended to date a more “artsy” type. My initial thought was, “he is adorable, not my type, but adorable.” I even thought about who I might set him up with.
20 minutes into the date I wanted to jump across the table and just kiss him. Point being “my type” was a story I told myself. Turns out my type is, Funny, Brilliant, Provocative, Intellectually Stimulating, Caring, Adventurous, Self-Aware, Loving, Family Man. Not a height weight, hair color, eye color, income, profession, or travel history.
Adam: By the way, she did not jump across the table and kiss me.
Yes, it’s important that you’re attracted to the person you’ll date. And yes, if you’re looking to have kids it probably makes sense to search for someone who is young enough to have the energy for that. But I find that too many people are obsessing about demographics instead of being open to finding love where it can be found.
What really creates the conditions for a long-term loving fulfilling relationship is not demographics. It’s soul. It’s chemistry. It’s the stuff we barely have words for. Love may not show up in exactly the package you thought it would. Be open to that. Don’t be too quick to constrain your search to a set of narrowly-defined demographics.
Josette: But also, don’t ignore the fact that people are still looking at your stats…use this to your advantage. Show who you are in how you answer some of these questions…for example:
I grew up in…
I said NYC
I’ve also seen the following answers:
· All over, my dad was in the military
· In Japan
But the best response I ever saw (and the thing that ultimately made me laugh out loud and find the perfect guy for me) was:
I grew up in…My entire body (again, thanks Adam for being you!)
Adam: Rule No. 1 — You already know this one…Be yourself! When I started online dating, I was scared and didn’t know how to go about it. So I read lots of profiles. I read what other guys were saying. I looked at women’s profiles. And I found that the vast majority of them were the same. All full of the same clichés. I understand why. It’s scary to put yourself out there. We’re all afraid of rejection so we take comfort in writing the same profile as everyone else. Sure, you have a vibrant circle of friends. Sure, you have a loving family. Sure, you love the outdoors and everything the city has to offer… Sure. You and everybody else. Boring! Safe. But boring.
I’m not suggesting you try and be different for the sake of being different. But I am saying that you need to be yourself. Put yourself out there authentically. Write a profile that truly captures the essence of who you are and what makes you unique.
And here’s why.
First, whatever you are, they’re going to find out. If you post the best picture ever taken of you and you haven’t looked like that in 10 years, you might get the date but what do you think is going to happen when that other person sees you for the first time?!
Dating is not about racking up a lot of yesses. If that’s your objective, you’re reading the wrong article. Dating is about finding a meaningful, rewarding, loving, joyous relationship. You don’t have to reveal everything about you in your profile. And not even on a first date. But bullshit is a waste of time. Be honest from the start. Let some of the rough edges show. Let some of the controversial aspects of your personality show. They’re going to find out anyway! Save yourself the time and reveal who you really are from the very beginning.
Josette: Pause here for a moment. This could sound like “write a profile that captures every wart”. That’s not at all what this is. It’s about writing the profile that truly captures your unique take on life. Because someone out there, even if their take is somewhat different, may be looking for that exact thing that you, and no one but you, are.
Oh, and someone who isn’t even looking for anything (that was me) may see something they didn’t even know they were looking for!
Adam: And second, the whole dating process is a lot easier if you put the real you out there in your profile. If you want to go on 1,000 bad dates then ignore everything I’m saying. Your bullshit clichéd profile will attract lots of people who also love clichés but who almost definitely aren’t right for you.
But if you’d rather go on fewer dates with people you might actually form a meaningful bond with, then you need to be yourself. Because when you are, when you reveal some of the parts of you that you’re scared might be rejected by others, you allow other people to self-select into a relationship with you. If they are interested after reading a profile that captured your true essence, then you stand a much higher chance of actually liking each other.
Ultimately, you want a meaningful relationship with an actual human being. Not a profile. And guess what, other people want the same. Yes, there’s art and mystery and romance. But that doesn’t mean hiding behind clichés because you’re afraid if you reveal who you really are, that he or she won’t like you.
Pro tip: You won’t develop a loving relationship with most people. Most, or at least many people, won’t be that into you. Literally billions of people are not going to fall in love with you. That’s ok. Actually, it’s better than ok. It’s great. Because you need just one. (Or maybe you need a few more. No judgment. But you aren’t looking for true love with 1,000 people.) By being yourself, you make it easier for that special someone to recognize in you the qualities that will lead to a beautiful loving relationship.
Josette: There is one additional point to be made about being your true self, and about being true TO yourself. It takes resentments out of the picture and opens up a path to true and sustainable intimacy (in all the senses of the word).
Josette & Adam: Good luck out there. We really hope you find your one true love.