Author Catherine Specter tests the self-help love lessons of The One.
If you wish hard enough, will your dream lover appear out of thin air? Author and romantic Catherine Specter road tests the latest man-hunting trend.
Before The Secret, there was “the One.” To be exact, there was a self-help bestseller titled Calling in “the One”: 7 Weeks To Attract the Love of Your Life.
Seven weeks? I was dubious—but intrigued. I had never before read this type of book; never gone “new age” enough to actually purchase one. But I read my horoscope, I like sending out good vibes, and I’m all about the Golden Rule. I saw no compelling reason why my one true love shouldn’t be summoned like the book promised. Like so many single, hopeful romantics out there, I thought, “I’ve waited long enough.”
Calling in “the One,”(hereafter known as CITO) is a 49-day book/course to finding true love, based upon the über popular Law Of Attraction. Published two years before The Secret swept the nation, is has a similar thesis: To get what you want, just think really hard about it and poof, the universe manifests it. Author and psychotherapist Katherine Woodward Thomas says, CITO “is not necessarily informational in nature, it’s transformational.” She also warns that there will be rough spots, mostly due to dredging up your past wounds in order to get over them, and she equates the CITO process with cleaning out your closet—after all, there isn’t room for new stuff until you toss out the old.
I decided I was ready for some spiritual spring-cleaning, but I faced a dilemma: I was on deadline, and I didn’t have 49 days. What to do? Speed-read the entire 325-page book and cram 49 days into 10, or carefully read and perform 10 days’ worth of lessons? Woodward emphasizes that you should work at your own pace and not rush to meet a strict one-lesson-per-day quota. Good plan, I thought. According to my calculations, cleansing for 10 days would see me 20.4 percent of the way toward finding my “one,” so the odds of some reward were in my favor. Now I just needed a partner—Woodward also encourages doing the course with a friend, or likeminded others. Finding a full group is tricky, unless you are tied in to your local spiritual community—or take the time to read all the flyers at Whole Foods. So I half-enlisted my best friend, Melanie, who joined in via phone here and there. Together, we dove in.
Lesson 1: Open yourself to love and understanding so you can be prepared to call love into your life. I sat cross-legged and stretched my arms out wide, saying to myself, I open myself fully to give and receive love, as instructed. You are supposed to do this 26 times; Melanie and I lasted about 15 (we had to put the phone down during meditation to stretch occasionally). Our silence was eventually broken when Melanie said, “Dude, my arms hurt.” (Note: Melanie works out five days a week.) I said the ache came from her brain, not her arms; we laughed, and I didn’t care if we were inching closer to our “ones,” because it just felt really good.
Lesson 2: Connect with those around you. This lesson encourages you to be mindfully pleasant to those around you. You are to repeatedly meditate on this phrase: I am connected to everyone and everything. The problem is, there’s only so much soul work you can do while simultaneously living your regular life. It was also depressing and nixed my mojo. By the next day’s end Melanie said to me, “I’m already tired of being so nice to people.” (Note: Melanie is one of the nicest people on the planet.) For me, every time I tried to focus and silently speak the mantra, I thought of all my deadlines and laundry I needed to do, and how connected I felt to those things instead.
Lesson 3: Write a list of things you require in order to be happy in a relationship. This practice asks you to honestly identify what your top needs are, and write or type them out—50 times. (During our quiet list-making, Melanie and I both actually wondered if it would be so bad to simply cut and paste.) My list included: I need to know he will be there, no matter what. I need fidelity. I need to feel butterflies, intellectually and physically. This exercise taps into your relationship must-haves rather than superficial attributes like: I want to marry a doctor. It’s empowering to be honest with yourself, but it can also be difficult. We get so accustomed to hiding our needs for fear of appearing “needy” that we’re hesitant to admit them, even in private.
Lesson 4: Make a list of words that resonate with you. This one didn’t do it for me. You pick a bunch of “essence qualities,” either from a suggested list or on your own: words like “humor” and “passion,” then write affirmation statements to internalize them. You’re also supposed to write them on post-its and stick them in oft-looked-at places. I’m enough of a list-maker already and I didn’t want to O.D.
Lesson 5: Start a collage of cutouts that represent love, write about your life as a fairy tale, and… thank God. For the writing exercise, start with “once upon a time” and write about yourself in the third person. Characterize yourself, perhaps, as a damsel who longs to be rescued, or the golden-locked girl waiting in the tower—whichever heroine relates your love ideals. Note: It is supposed to have a happy ending. Overall, I was not a fan of this lesson. I am a die-hard romantic and I will not settle for anything less than a love that rivals any fairy tale, but I didn’t like being told to talk to God.
Lesson #6: Meditate about how it would feel to be in a relationship with your “One.” Not how they will look, or dress, or what career they’ll have, but what it feels like to be with them. You must distinguish between love and lust and that can be a tough gig. Whether or not you choose to do CITO, do this lesson! It’s cool what comes up. The whole exercise plays out in moments, but if you focus, it feels longer—much like the everyday reality of being with someone you adore. I thought about my “one,” whoever he might be, and pictured him walking through the door at the end of the day. We wanted to discuss our workdays with each other. I didn’t care what we would have for dinner; I was just happy he was there. I imagined how I’d feel if he were in a bad mood, and I was still happy he was there.
The bottom line: Let’s face it, a woe-is-me, stuck in the past, spiritually closed sourpuss is probably not ready to meet his or her dream partner. CITO is about finding the real deal, your one true love, someone who complements your best self. My task wasn’t to herald CITO or to disclaim it. I did it because romantics are true love seekers, and if we think a route might lead us there, we check it out and report back. We’re like canaries in the dating coal mine. Rest assured, I made it out, with only a little soot on my favorite stilettos. In fact, during my road test, I had a few deliciously unnerving, blush-causing conversations with someone who was in my orbit before CITO, and hopefully would be there long after. Like 50 years after. Coincidence—or my post-CITO destiny busy unfolding? We’ll see. In the meantime, here’s hoping you’ll fare even better.
*Some names have been changed.
Catherine Specter writes the advice column, “Cat’s Call,” from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.