Wednesday, May 25, 2011

[[ GPS TO MODERN TRUE LOVE? ]]

IS there a proven strategy for finding love? If so, I suspect millions of people would like to know.

Answers, I'm sure, abound. I can already see the raised hands of self-help authors, relationship coaches and matchmakers eager to ply their trade. Open your wallet and maybe you'll learn that the secret is to follow a set of antiquated rules, or to lower your expectations and settle. Perhaps you'll be asked to describe your favorite salty snack, and that preference, when added to your profile and cross-referenced with someone else's preferences, will turn the key and in you'll go. Surely there's a science to this. Isn't there a science to everything?

Not according to all the grinning newlyweds who first locked eyes during Pilates or in a conga line at the tiki bar and found themselves hitched and happy without consultants, fees or even a single round of speed dating. "We just knew," they say, maddeningly. "It'll happen to you, too. You have to be patient."

Patience may be a virtue, but for many, it's no strategy for finding love.

So what else can you do, short of hiring advisers, creating a direct mail campaign or revealing your vitals to a site like Perfectmatch.com?

1. PERFECT THE TEXT

Seduction via love letters has a long, rich history. With text messaging, the genre is enjoying a renaissance, albeit one marked by shallowness and brevity.

Not that that's a bad thing. After all, it's hard not to be impressed by the efficiency of a message like "ur gr8 lets m8," which takes three seconds to type and a fraction of a second to send, and requires no stamp, wax seal or calligraphy. Cost: zero (depending on your texting plan).

Yet it can still be the start of a beautiful relationship. If the object of your desire replies with something chatty like "lol! its f8!" you're well on your way. Keep it going. Consider adding a playful photo or two (data charges may apply).

But be careful where you aim your camera: One ill-advised picture can ruin a thousand words.

2. TANTALIZE WITH TWEETS

Not long ago a young Brooklynite I heard from, Julieanne Smolinski, discovered an interesting phenomenon. She was seducing people. And she was being seduced. Not with suggestive touches or whispered come-ons, but with 140-character dispatches accompanied by, as she put it, "a chest-up self-portrait the size of a Scrabble tile."

Here is a truism about social media like Twitter and Facebook: the smaller the profile picture, the greater the fantasizing. People will double-click on your photo to try to see more of you, or drag it to their desktops hoping for a better view.

But the photo stubbornly remains a minuscule square of seductive potential, which only fuels the obsession. Combine it with some witty tweets and the package may prove irresistible. The Scrabble tile must be met in person.

Of course, it's almost impossible in these circumstances for the encounter to live up to the fantasy. Which is the downside of imagining one's romantic future based on a smattering of thumbnail images and glib phrases. Which is increasingly how we meet each other these days. Uh-oh.

3. CHASE TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH

We are told in matters of love never to chase. Chasing makes you look desperate, pathetic and obsessed. I've read hundreds of tales of chasing. The common version, which involves drive-bys and doorbell ringing and way too many unreturned calls and text messages, can be squirm-inducing.

But chasing someone you love to the ends of the earth is different. If the crush of your life decides to up and move to Japan, as Lisa Ruth Brunner's did in a story she told here last summer, and you miss her so much you arrange for foreign study in Beijing (which was as close as Lisa could get), and a year later you find yourself reunited with her in Tiananmen Square, the magnitude of your act is so absurdly out of scale that it can turn the original paradigm on its head: pathetic becomes romantic, desperate becomes determined.

And even if your grand gesture doesn't lead to love, as Lisa's didn't, at least your story stands a better chance of moving from the police blotter to Hollywood.

4. LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH

Sometimes the love of your life is already with you. But there is some reason you cannot be a couple, or so you think.

Logic no, heart yes. I think we have our proven strategy.

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