Seth and Summer. Jack and Rose. Noah and Ali. Each of us have one pop-culture power couple in mind that made us believe in love—the type of love that would make you stand on a coffee cart and profess it, sacrifice your seat on a life boat (although, HOT TAKE, there was room for both of them on that damn door), or write letters every day for a year. But that smack-ya-in-the-face, wake up with googly eyes and an intense desire to sing Savage Garden kinda love isn’t as easy to come by as TV and the movies make it look. Rather, if you’re constantly saying to yourself “I want to fall in love,” you first need to be open to receiving it.
And, lemme tell ya, that isn’t so easy. In fact, at times—especially in the age of ghosting, orbiting, cloaking, etc., etc., etc., it can feel downright impossible. So for the sake of my own single soul (and the others out there who are also Googling “I want to fall in love” 3 to 15 times a week), I chatted with two relationship experts about how to fall in love—and, most importantly, how to open your cold, cynical heart to letting it happen.
If you can’t stop saying “I want to fall in love,” check out the 6 tips below from relationship experts.
1. Be aware of your headspace
My friends and I often joke about “putting out a vibe” when it comes to attracting people, and according to the pros, that’s very much a thing. “You’ve gotta be open to the experience,” says New York-based relationship therapist Susan Winter. “If the idea of going out on a date—even a coffee date—is agony, and you find that you’re trying to appease your friends or family who feel it’s time for you to date, you’re probably not open. Maybe you know you’re not ready, and you’ve got to acknowledge that.” The first step to take here is figuring out where you are mentally and emotionally so that you can eventually get to where you want to be in the process.
2. Change up your methods for attracting a mate
“Anyone would be resistant to dating if they kept doing the same things that did not give them favorable results,” says Winter—and it’s true. If things just keep not working out, it’s likely some part of you will also want to throw in the towel on dating.
“But it’s not enough to just say, ‘I hate online dating.’ If you know that about yourself, rather than being resistant and not open to dating (because you would like to meet somebody, you’re just discouraged), seek out alternative methods to the process,” she says. Join a league, chat up the hottie on the yoga mat next to you, introduce yourself to someone in line at Whole Foods—get out there IRL, and start making connections in a new way.
3. Look for someone for the right reasons
We’ve all heard the saying that you can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself first. Cliché? For sure. But it’s also true in some ways. “I do believe we are able to experience a true falling in love when we see that the person complements us perfectly, and not because we seek for them to fill an empty part of us that hurts,” says psychotherapist Jorge Fernandez. “When we do the latter, we are looking for a Band-Aid, when what we really should be looking for is how to permanently fill that hole ourselves. [Then], we are ready to be in love.” No one else can make you happy with yourself.
4. Stop putting so much pressure on the situation
I’m 28, very single, and have a little brother (and a whole lot of friends) heading down the aisle in the next year and a half, so trust me—I know a thing or two about “pressure,” both internally and external, coming from my family. Obsessing about finding the right person, though, won’t magically bring them into your life, answering your “I want to fall in love” wishes.
In fact, it can have the opposite effect. “There’s an old cliché: Love happens when you least expect it. And I believe that’s true to an extent,” says Fernandez. “I believe that searching too much causes us to overextend and attempt to find compatibility in people who aren’t good for it. Be open to the fact that you may find love, but live your life so that it’s a pleasant surprise when you find it.”
Sure, put yourself out there, but don’t walk into every drinks date with the expectation that the person will be “the one.” They may just be “the one” to share a glass of rosé and some truffle fries with, and that’s okay, too.
5. Be okay with the reality that might not work out
Falling in love is scary as hell—especially in an era when you can date someone for, like, a long time and then get ghosted out of nowhere. But the worries and “what ifs” shouldn’t deter you from being open to it. “Accept that you may get hurt, and that life will go on if you do,” says Fernandez. “We believe, more than ever, partially due to the social media, that love is an easy and effortless thing. It is not. There are many points in which we need to become compatible. We can have the lust, the physical attraction, and the love for the same food and music, and that still does not guarantee a successful relationship. If you want to be open to falling in love, the most important step you can take is accepting that your heart may get broken.”
Obviously, breakups sting, but in the words of Taylor Swift, the high can definitely be worth the pain.
6. Take a break if you need it
If you’re straight-up just not into dating right now, that’s okay—give yourself a break. “Not everybody should be dating all the time,” says Winter. “It’s not like, ‘Oh you better get on it, it’s a goal you have to achieve.’ If you want a time out, if you need a dating detox, take it. But make sure you’re aware of why you’re doing it…and then reboot with a different formula.”
That way, when you do get back out there, you’re both mentally and emotionally ready to be open to the process.
Let’s say your daily request of “I want to fall in love” seems to have been answered. Here’s how to tell if it’s love or lust. Plus, what it really means to have chemistry with some, according to science.
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