Love. Have you had it? Thought you had it? Want it? Need it? Looking for it?
Love is an essential and important part of our lives. We crave romantic love and are happier, healthier and more productive when we have it. We like to hear and read love stories and watch romantic movies, dreaming, hoping and wishing that someday we will find true love.
There are millions of people searching with a strong desire to conquer all and that find someone special. So why is it so difficult? I believe there are a few answers to this question, but the one that stands out most is "the list."
The list that so many singles have created, either on paper or memorized, is as much an enemy as an ally. The list that continues to grow and prevent us from being successful in our search for love.
That personalized list that is filled with all the juicy things that you think you want and need in a person and all the things you don't desire. Some of these lists were made in years past and grow with every bad experience or failed relationship we have.
I have to say, the majority of lists that I've seen are a bit unrealistic and incredibly detrimental.
For example, many men and women say they won't date someone who has a cat. Well, I understand that not everyone is a cat lover, but let's think about this. Maybe the person inherited a deceased family member's pet, rescued a hurt kitten on a hike in the canyon or fell in love at the pet shop.
To me, being a cat owner shouldn't be a deal-breaker unless you're highly allergic. I think pet owners in general have good hearts, are unselfish, loyal and have the ability to care for someone other than themselves. I believe that many cat owners have what it takes to be great parents, not to mention partners.
For those of you with one of these "lists" I recommend taking a good look at your list and thinking about revising it. Get a professional or a trusted friend or family member to help you.
Sometimes it's hard to know on your own that you have unrealistic expectations. Don't let another Valentine's Day pass as you hold onto that unrealistic list. It can not only limit you, but also prevent you from finding someone special and accomplishing your dreams.
A good rule of thumb to follow when you are revising your list is to make sure you are worthy to receive what you are looking for.
Let's say you find people who fit your list perfectly. Do they desire you? Do you fit the criteria on their list?
A 5-foot-1 petite lady with two kids, who also travels for business, may find a 6-foot-2, successful, athletic man to fit her list, but he desires a taller woman who doesn't have kids. So keep in mind if you are serious about finding someone special, they have a list, too.
Once you have your new-and-improved list, where you go to find this person does matter. But that's a lesson for another time.
I would like to talk about the next most important thing to remember: It takes time to get to know someone. And the most important items on your list — like trust, intelligence, good values, humor and being family-oriented — are not all going to be apparent on the first date.
No matter how pretty a present is wrapped and looks, it's what's inside that really matters. Take your time and be open-minded. Make an effort to try and enjoy the slow process of getting to know someone.
Keeping your outdated, unrealistic list is like shopping for something that doesn't exist or that you can't afford. Or, as Einstein put it: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
If you are one of the 1.6 million singles in Orange County looking for someone to share your life with, I hope my tips regarding your list will lead you to a more successful journey. After all, having someone special to love and share your life with is what all humans want, need and desire. It shouldn't be so difficult.
KIMBERLY ARICO is the founder of Newport Beach-based matchmaking service Palm & Associates.