Why Monogamy Is The Secret To Real Happiness
Jack Nicholson, Hollywood heavy-hitter, recently admitted that at age 77 he is lonely and scared of dying alone. He lamented, "I would love that one last romance. But I'm not very realistic about it happening. What I can't deny is my yearning."
Will his wealth soothe the ache? Unlikely. He continued, "I have had everything a man could ask for but no one could say I'm successful with affairs of the heart."
Jack Nicholson's insightful commentary echoes that of another famous artist and celebrity, Billy Joel. In his recently released biography, Joel states, "You can have all the money in the world, you can have mansions, you can have properties, you can have yachts, you can have limousines, you can have motorcycles." But without love, "It doesn't mean a goddamn thing."
Nicholson and Joel's comments remind us of that monogamy isn't just an antiquated cultural value. There is a real importance of developing authentic and loving relationships with another — a concept rooted not only in personal anecdote, but also science.
Take, for example, the Harvard Grant Study, which followed 268 male Harvard undergraduates (from class years 1938-1940) for 75 years, collecting data on various aspects of their lives at regular intervals. The goal of the study was to predict the factors of healthy aging. Not surprisingly, the study concluded that even with a successful career, money and good physical health, man cannot be happy without supportive, loving relationships.
Jack Nicholson and Billy Joel are 100% correct -- love reigns supreme.
While it is impossible to predict when you will find a soul mate, several key choices increase one's probability for finding love. Here are a few reminders that I have kept in mind, and that I encourage you to think about, too.
1. Prioritize love as you do other forms of wellness.
What is the likelihood of becoming physically fit and strong with only 20 minutes of exercise per week? Negligible, right? That's why those aiming to get fit must devote time and energy (both emotional and physical) toward their goal. The same holds true for other goals and desires in our lives, even love. I coach men and women who desperately want a life partner, but refuse to work more than a few minutes a day towards this goal.
Try logging how you spend your time each week, even if informally, in your head. How many hours do you work, sleep, eat, exercise, text, surf the internet, play video games, read Facebook? Is there time for you to make consistent, deliberate action in pursuit of a better love life?
Make a commitment to widening your social circle. Talk to your friends' friends at parties. Smile at others on the subway, or in coffee shops. Spend time on online dating sites if it interests you. Join clubs where you can meet more people who share your interests. Read books on communication and relationships. Take classes to learn the art of attraction. In short, you can really take steps every day towards finding love.
2. Keep your heart and mind open.
If you have dared to love in life, you have likely also suffered the crushing blow of rejection and betrayal. I know…it sucks. But, your future success depends upon your willingness to brush off life's BS and get back out with an optimistic attitude and a bright smile. Find the learning lesson in every failure. Bury past resentments. Express gratitude for bullets dodged. Try, try, try. Again and again.
3. Notice love everywhere it is, and embrace it.
It sounds cheesy, but love surrounds us -- more than we tend to think. Refuse the narrow mindset that only deems "romantic'" love as worthwhile. Expand your view of love to include the kindness, warmth, and generosity doled out by family, friends, colleagues and neighbors. These relationships are the playground where we learn intimacy and can practice skills of communication, conflict resolution, forgiveness and empathy — the very traits that are integral in a committed romantic relationship.
4. Enact what you wish to attract.
When I was single, my online dating profile indicated that I wanted a man who would rescue "a three-legged dog." Enamored with my own behaviorally-challenged and irascible mutt, I knew my soul mate would possess a similar love of animals, compassion and largesse. (Little did I know that I would fall in love with my veterinarian!).
Make a list of the qualities that attract you. Grow in your capacity to embody these traits. Swoon for artists and musicians? Sign up for an oil painting class or spend time writing your book. Want someone who is financially stable? Pay off outstanding debt and save money on a consistent basis. Intrigued by sophisticated, cosmopolitan types? Brush off your passport and book a trip to Portugal.