If you were looking for some kind of expert opinion on love then I guess you might go searching in the words of philosophers, poets, and songwriters. And with good reason, as love in all its guises has been the domain of such thinkers and writers for millennia (with perhaps Huey Lewis and the News' The Power of Love being the obvious pinnacle of such endeavours?). I doubt psychologists would feature highly on your list of people to turn to for an expert opinion on this topic. And I can understand why. Psychologists' track record for casting light on love has not been strong, tending to focus instead on the psychology of interpersonal attraction rather than the more slippery concept of love. (Notable exceptions are perhaps Robert Sternberg with his Triangular Theory of Love, and more recently Barbara Fredrickson's take on 'love' as micro-moments of shared positive emotion.)
It therefore seems a little odd that I sit here, as a self-confessed psychologist, writing about love on that most romantic (!) of days, Valentine's Day. Especially as I am not even one of those psychologists to have researched the psychology of love (or even the psychology of interpersonal attraction). So why am I writing this? And why are you reading it? Well, one topic I have spent time studying is the psychology of luck, and there may be a few things one can draw from that research that have some bearing on how we go about finding that special person with whom we might fall in love.
What it comes down to is this. So much of what happens in our lives is due to luck. And by that I mean include chance, happenstance, fortune, unplanned events, whatever you like to call it. Luck plays a central part in most (if not all) of the important (and the not so important) things in life. And this includes the people you meet. From whom you happened to sit next to at school, to whom happened to live near you when you grew up, to whom happened to go to the same college or university as you, to whom happened to be in that pub the same night you happened to pop in there for a drink or two. This might seem obvious, and it might seem trivial, but an awareness of how much of this is beyond our control highlights how meeting our ideal partner, our 'soulmate' if you like, is luck of the draw. Or, if you prefer, it is fated. Either way, there is not much you can do about it. Or is there?
It may sound a little bleak to say that finding love is all down to luck, especially if today you find the doormat rather bereft of cards from secret admirers! But let's not be so hasty... the flip-side is you're better off accepting this is how it is, relaxing into it, and believing the right person will find their way to you all in good time. Whether you believe in fate or not, it is likely that adopting this kind of perspective will mean you worry less about meeting Mr. or Ms. Right, which will have an impact on how you come across to others. This approach will also mean you are more open to possibilities, and therefore open to the idea of meeting that special someone when you least expect it.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become. NY: Hudson Street Press.
Sternberg, R. L., & Weis, K. (Eds.) (2006). The New Psychology of Love. Yale University Press.
Wiseman, R. (2004). The Luck Factor. London: Arrow.