Are You Obsessed With Finding Love?

Heart and binoculars

On a warm summer evening a few years ago, I got together with four of my single girlfriends. We gathered in my friend Tracy's living room. Two of us sat on the edge of her couch, and two of us sat Indian style on the floor. Our arms were outstretched, hands clasped together. We burned candles. We closed our eyes. We prayed—for ourselves, for each other, and for the imaginary men that we hoped to one day marry.

We had read in our Bibles that it was important to pray boldly, so that is exactly what we did. We presented God with lengthy descriptions of our ideal men. In the form of a list. The List. Should Couples Pray Together While Dating? Why This Author Says 'No'

It was a complex, thoughtfully-planned affair. There were bullet points and petitions for things we wanted most in these men: "spiritual leader," great sense of humor, financially stable, and of course, "best friend."

It's the Christian female's version of the Holy Grail, and many of us spend our lives searching for it. For him. My own personal search has gone in waves. They rocked me back and forth, but never delivered me anywhere definite.

There were times when I cared far too much about having a romantic relationship. Times when I was dreamy and sentimental, reading Jane Austen novels and hanging onto every word in every love song. There were times when I was disappointed by love, by its inconsistencies, its wrenching heartache, and its inability to live up to all the enormous expectations I had placed on it. 10 Most Romantic Movie Moments

These times where often followed by bouts of searching and questioning, taking more of a scientific approach. I went out on many dates with many men, always observing and recording and comparing every variable. Was dating this person logical? Was it practical? Could I trust him? Would he hurt me? It was a methodical mind game. I never won.

Then for certain periods, I abandoned the search entirely, focusing instead on my goals and dreams and career aspirations. I stopped dating. I stopped noticing men. I traveled the European continent. I started a graduate program that kept me locked in my bedroom amidst piles of books, sifting through research and analyzing the arguments of Foucault. 6 Ways To Survive Holiday Travel

I kept myself busy, but something was still wrong.

Even when I was most productive and most accomplished, the one thing I lacked was plain-and-simple contentment. I didn't know how to stop fighting my singleness, how to stop filling it with distractions. I didn't know how to just be.

My sister-in-law had figured it out, though. She was 32 years old when she met my brother, and after they married, she told me this: "You have to come to the point where you can honestly let it go. Where you can recognize that finding love isn't the most important thing in the entire world. That's where I was at when I met your brother, and I don't think things would have worked out between us any other way." 8 Really Good Reasons To Finally — Permanently! — Let Go Of Your Ex

I thought about what she said, and it made sense. I heard her out. But before I knew it, I spun her words into methodology again. I saw her advice as a means to an end.

Rather than just "letting it go," I focused on the end result. I fixated on finding love after learning to let it go. I saw it as another gimmick, another formula that I could use to possibly attain what I wanted—like making a list and praying over it, for example. I was still stuck in my old habits.

More Juicy Content From YourTango:

It wasn't until I started reading the memoirs of women searching for love that I finally detected an important pattern developing. I finally figured it out.

Kristine Gasbarre's book, How to Love an American Man, is a good example. She shares the lessons her grandmother taught her about marriage and romantic relationships. Her Grandma was happily married to her grandpa for sixty years, and after he died, Kristine moved back home to care for her grandma and keep her company in the mourning process. Being a young Grandparent ROCKS!

As she spent time with her grandma and began to embrace her single status, something interesting happened: Rather than fighting her singleness, she became a student of it. She leaned into her questions, doubts, and concerns about men, and started shifting her focus away from herself and onto loving her grandma.

By the end of Kristine's story and the other memoirs, not all these women found what they originally sought. But what they did find was that the actual pursuit of love is about so much more than the end result. Kristine, in particular, learned that her quest for love had been a selfish one.

Most of us think about finding love in terms of what we as individuals are going to gain—how each relationship will make my life happier, how I am going to be more complete—but we don't often think about the other side of the coin. There are two people in every relationship, remember, and relationships are every bit as much about giving as they are about receiving. 4 Steps To Finding Love [VIDEO]

Somehow, Kristine had missed that. Somehow, I had missed that too.

I am entering a new place in my life. As I move into this next phase—dating, single, whatever it may be—I want to simplify things. I want to recognize that I have a lot to learn and a lot to give. I don't need to be searching and dreaming quite so much, because romantic love really isn't the most important thing in life. 

It's not going to solve all my problems. It won't make me complete. It's not the Holy Grail I once perceived it to be. It's simply one experience amidst a lifetime of others. If and when I get to experience it, I will be grateful for the blessing. In the meantime, all I can do is continue to be open and patient, finding peace in the knowledge that at this very moment, I am exactly where God wants me. When It Comes To Love, Would You Let God Decide?

And when I think about that, there's no place else I'd rather be. 

YourTango may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through links featured in this article.