Feature article in The Huffington Post, by Susan Winter

A successful venture capitalist can distinguish between a company of true merit and one of false flash, yet fail to see the same in the woman he’s dating. An accomplished businesswoman can walk into a job interview thinking, They’re crazy if they don’t hire me, yet wonder if her date finds her worthy. And the seasoned golf pro can read an undulating green, but can’t make sense of his partner’s behavior.

How’s this possible? Why do smart, confident and successful professionals become stupid when it comes to romance? Why is it that we throw away our known talents, experience and skills is this particular arena of life?

We’ve been fed an odd fairy tale. We’ve been told that love is a “mystery.” Why do we desire a certain person, and not another? Psychologists and neurobiologists have struggled to decode the underpinnings of attraction, love and romance. Despite their findings, most of us chalk up the answer to fate. Or luck. Considered to be beyond the realm of human understanding, dating and mating provides an easy excuse to abdicate responsibility. Love is like catching a cold; it’s not our fault, it just happened.

Love becomes a mystery when we isolate romance to a singular, unpredictable island all of its own. Told of its remote beauty and treacherous waters, it becomes the legend of stories fueled by those who’ve fallen victim to the journey. But along with the stories of peril and danger, real people who live in the real world find their way to love every day. Their tales are predominantly simple and straightforward. Oftentimes, the backstory to how they gained success in partnership is bland. They knew what they wanted and found someone who wanted that as well. They made certain decisions and followed the course they’d charted.

As a relationship expert, I continually see smart people reduced to confused idiots. Why is it that some people find love easily, and for others it’s more difficult? I believe the latter half forget what they already know.

My golf pro was lamenting a bad dating experience of late. His final analysis? He blamed himself for loving. “Loving” wasn’t his problem. The problem was that he threw away his professional brilliance by not transferring it to another platform — his romantic life.

His error was partner selection. He chose to get involved with a woman who was the wrong choice for his romantic goals. It’s the golfing equivalent of making an error in club selection. In a tournament, he’d rely upon lifetime of acquired information. But because he was playing on the “course of love,” he lost all ability to think clearly. Dating her was like trying to use a putter on a tee shot. Just as each club is designed for a specific distance and purpose, so are the partners we choose. Knowing who can go the distance is the same mental assessment, whether it’s a person or a golf club. Merging the two worlds of knowledge is the goal for all of us.

You’d never partner with someone in business without doing your research. You’d know what you want, and why. You’d be clear on what they bring to the table and their contribution to your end goals. You’d know their mission statement. You’d study their track record and assess the value of their product/service vs. its inherent risk.

Yet, we often enter the world of dating unclear about what we’re seeking. We leave this part to chance, to fate or to the bizarre concept of going-with-the flow. We’ll get together with someone and be afraid to ask where he or she stands on specific relationship goals. We feel it’s invasive to ask about former relationships. We wonder more if they like us, than if we like them. We obsess over what they feel for us, but fail to ask how we feel about ourselves in their presence. We forget all that we know and wonder why we’re confused.

Admittedly, love can be complicated. The pathway to finding love is littered with challenges amongst its rewards. But this whole business of romance needn’t baffle us so. We can use the tools we have at hand. Instead of viewing love as the unfortunate whiplash of fate, we can bring all of our knowledge to this worthy venture. Love is not a mystery; it’s the mastery of all the skills we possess.

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