"How do you get lucky in love?" a gruff voice asked from behind me. I was standing at a teller window at the bank so it seemed an unlikely place for someone to be asking for relational advice. And yet he repeated his question even more loudly. You could see several of us looking around somewhat awkwardly, trying to figure out if he was serious and sane. He was waving a magazine and gestured toward it as he made eye contact with the teller closest to him. He asked a third time, with a mix of irony and laughter: "Seriously I've been married three times and would love to know how one goes about getting lucky in love?"
The tone lightened up a bit as we could tell he had just seen a headline on a magazine that had been innocently lying in the bank lobby that must have triggered his friendly zeal. But he kept his gaze on the young teller, presumably awaiting an answer. The teller couldn't have been more than young twenties and after laughing nervously, finally said, "I guess you just haven't yet found the right person."
I nearly choked.
How DO You Get Lucky In Love?
Seriously?!?! There's a guy waving a magazine in the bank lobby telling everyone who is standing within earshot that he's been married three times and the best we can do is assume he hasn't met the right women?
I forgive the teller. He was young and idealistic. But it's a view that far too many of us still hold. And when it comes to friendship-- it's no different. We assume that if the relationship isn't working that it's their problem. Or if not their problem, then at least that who they are doesn't match up with who we are. We shrug our shoulders and cheer ourselves up with the words of the teller: I guess we just haven't yet met the person who could be our best friend.
Like a needle in a haystack we think we need to keep looking for that specific and rare person who can love us and whom we can love back. Now don't get me wrong-- I've been accused of being the biggest romantic who believes in soul mates and love and chemistry and deep connections-- the whole big love enchilada. But, and this is a serious but, love isn't something we go around discovering in people, something that they either have for us or don't. No, love in all forms, is something we can develop with people.
That man in the bank... I'll bet all three times he married he believed he was in love. He had "discovered" love. But it's more than simply finding someone you love, it's choosing to practice the actions that develop that love, that matter most.
What Friendship Is and Isn't
I notoriously say in front of nearly every crowd I speak to, "Friendship isn't about how much you like each other; but rather it's about how much you practice the behaviors that make up friendship."
In other words: I can meet someone instantly and like them and talk for hours with them and want to be best friends with them, and they with me. But that is not a friendship. If we never see each other again then we were merely two people who had a great evening together and were friendly with each other, but that is not friendship. There is a VAST difference between the people we're friendly with and the people we develop a friendship with.
What makes a friend is less about how much we like them instantly or even how much we like them over the long haul. We aren't all closest to the people we actually love and admire the most. No, we're closest to the ones with whom we're willing to practice the actions that make up a friendship.
In my new book Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness, I am thrilled to be teaching the three actions that make up a friendship. For far too long we have left love to luck and chance, bumping into each other and hoping for the best. It's time to actually understand what intimacy is, what actions lead to it, and how much power we have in actually leading every relationship in our lives toward greater love.
What I wish I could've said to the man at the bank was, "That's awesome that you haven't given up on still wanting more love in your life. And the good news is it's not like playing the lottery where you have to get married for several years before finding out if she is the one or not. You can take responsibility to develop the relationships that indeed leaving you feeling lucky in love."
We all need more love in our lives. We don't have to leave it to chance.