You want to believe that if you’re a good girl, the world will deliver unto you the Perfect Guy. That Fate or God is the ultimate matchmaker, pulling the strings of your life to make shit happen. “We’re soul mates!” is the rallying cry of emotional pygmies.
Yeah, it’s time to grow the fuck up.
The real reason you rely on fate, and not action, is this: You’re scared. In fact, you’re fucking terrified. If Fate flings something into your lap, somehow it was “meant to be”—and you like this for two reasons: One, because if the “universe” makes it right, then you can’t be wrong. And when you’re trying to choose someone to spend your life (or at least a lot of time) with, well, that’s a lot of responsibility. Believing the universe made it so is like getting a USDA-certified stamp of love. Bang.
So, if you walk out your door and end up at this bar instead of that one, where you meet Mark instead of Brian, you may be tempted to say, well, that’s how it was meant to be. It also elevates the mundane (you going to a bar) to a miracle (you meeting the man Jesus set aside just for you). (And if you’re hung up on the how-we-met story? You need to get over that, too—it’s life, not a romcom.) No wonder it’s so heartbreaking later if and when things change; you end up thinking either the universe failed you—or you did. When often it’s neither.
Fate has a pretty sweet job—she gets all the credit and none of the blame. Kind of like God at the Superbowl. Unfortunately, this is bullshit—and puts you in the weakest position of all. And when you blame or wait for Fate to intervene on behalf of your dating life, you renounce your freedom and choice. How…convenient. And how lazy.
I met a woman recently who took no chances with any other aspects of her life. She owned her own business, her own apartment, paid a considerable amount for fitness classes (which is where we met). And yet, when the topic of romance reared its head, she said she wasn’t dating currently, but that she was open to it. “If it happens, it happens,” was her response.
Wait, wha? Is that how she talked about anything else in her life? Do Manhattan apartments just happen to people? Not usually, no. She wasn’t willing to take a chance with anything else—except the one thing she actually wanted but was most afraid to go after (though she denied that, too).
Women are often the biggest Fate-fuckers, but men do it too. I met a 20-something dude recently who asked what advice I had for a man who was ready for a relationship. But he didn’t want to hear what I said, which was, Keep dating. Make an effort. Risk rejection. He didn’t want to online date because he wanted his romance to be “random” (really?). (Subtext: He didn’t want to believe he had to do anything—not a guy you can really help.) He wants God, his mom, or me to just hand him what he thinks he should have, or at least tell him he was doing enough, to approve of his romantic inertia. Sorry.
I’ll tell you what: Nothing in my dating life happened by “accident.” Sure, random shit happens—but I take random situations and turn them in my favor (and sometimes I get rejected—which you should be doing, too). I go after what I want or snag it as it passes by, whether it’s someone I meet at a party or the dude who’s teaching me to detach audio in iMovie. I take whatever random situation I’m in and use it to my advantage. (More on how to happen to somebody you’re interested in.)
Luck, circumstance—that’s the raw material. Your romantic life is about the choices you make with that. Just because you have a vagina doesn’t mean you need to act like one. So, decide—to be open, engaged, willing to take a risk. Start seeing yourself as the actor in your life, instead of the passive recipient of whatever the tide washes in. Would I leave the skilled work of choosing a partner to some nebulous external force? No way. And neither should you.
This piece originally appeared on Jezebel.