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"Many salamanders were too small to keep. Some got away...t. In any case, every once in a while my cruising for a pet sala-mander paid off. I made my trips across the street a regular part of my summertime week, bringing a jar with me because I knew I would be coming home with salamanders."

How to Find a Partner
by Jack Rinella

We used to live on Shaker Road, the main thoroughfare between Albany, NY, and its airport. It was only a two lane highway but dangerous enough that I wasn't allowed to cross it by myself. Sometime past my eleventh birthday my mother gave me permission to cross the street alone. Thus opened a whole new vista to explore.

I remember running across the street and up this six or seven foot embankment into unknown territory. I wandered through a young forest, across wide fields and eventually into a small ravine. As a matter of fact there were many gullies over there, each containing a small streamlet.

Turning over a rock in one of those little creeks might reveal a salamander. The more rocks you turned, the more salamanders you could catch. Oh, lots of rocks were barren of life-forms. Many salamanders were too small to keep. Some got away. Some rocks were too heavy to lift. In any case, every once in a while my cruising for a pet salamander paid off. I made my trips across the street a regular part of my summertime week, bringing a jar with me because I knew I would be coming home with salamanders.

I've told that story hundreds of times to make the simple point that you've got to play the numbers. A wide search will uncover more prospects than a narrow one. Many trials will reveal more discoveries than fewer. It's all part of a salesman's logic: The more prospects you contact the more customers you make.

So it is with finding a partner. The lonely hearts among you who dream of a relationship need only to do less dreaming and more prospecting.

During a phone call from a slave-applicant yesterday, I was told that "the bars in San Francisco" are a terrible place to find a Master. That's why the guy, who lives in SF, was flying to Washington, D.C. to meet his newest prospective Master. That information, of course, launched me into my usual sermon about there "not being any Masters in LA." Of course there are Masters in SF, LA, NY, and everywhere in between. They may be as hard to find as salamanders under rocks, but they are there.

I won't say you won't find a Master under a rock, but I would suggest you try other reasonable locations as well. Try lots of them: bars, clubs, baths, the Internet, chat lines and rooms, classified ads, workshops, contests, conventions, runs, bulletin boards. Ask friends, strangers, bartenders, and authors, writers, and columnists. The operative word here is "Ask."

My mother would interject all sorts of cliches at this point. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," she always says. "The squeaky wheel gets the most grease. Two heads are better than one. Don't leave a stone unturned." The other person worth quoting said, "You have not because you ask not."

Be consistent in your approach. If you look sporadically, you'll have less chance of attaining your objective than if you maintain a regular schedule. Search the classifieds, for instance, every week, not just once in a great while. Don't just look at their ads, place your own.

I suspect that the greatest difficulty in finding a partner is getting over one's present inertia. If you are the stay-at-home type you're going to come up with millions of reasons not to become pro-active in a search for a partner.

That is perfectly acceptable. There is nothing wrong with solitude. If your present lifestyle is good enough for you, it's good enough for you. On the other hand, if there is this sense of loneliness, emptiness, or disconnectedness in your life, only you can do something to change it.

I could have spent years looking for salamanders in my front yard. There would never have been any there to find. Only by venturing into "uncharted territory" could I create the opportunity I needed to get what I wanted.

The search, of course, is often fun in itself, but more importantly, it holds two crucial components that lead to success.

The first is that searching helps to refine one's concept of one's objective. That means that the more you look, the better you will know for what you are looking.

Let's take a common example. Steve thinks he wants a Master. The more Masters he meets the more he will know exactly what kind of Master he really wants. The process of discovery is very much a process of elimination. You know Edison's remark about his 1,000 failed light bulb experiments. They taught him 1,000 ways not to make a light bulb! Those "failed" lessons led to his eventual success.

So it is with finding partners. Sure you're going to meet a lot of really nice men and women who are perfectly unsuited for you. Each unsatisfactory encounter is going to give you important information that will lead you to your goal. More than simply help you to define your objective, the search will present you with invaluable opportunities to know yourself.

There are plenty of Masters in LA. The bars of SF are great places to successfully cruise. Those who think differently are those who fail to know themselves.

Recognize that which is within you that keeps you from your goal. It is pandemic that we fault others for what we ourselves lack. The last time I looked, when you point a finger at someone else, you are pointing three fingers at yourself.

Too often we blame our own inertia on things like confusion, ignorance, and fear. Yes, these are very real, and sometimes very strong, forces. Movement, not paralysis, is needed. One cannot expect the facts to come before one overcomes one's confusion. Rather we must seek the facts while we are confused because it is facts that will dispel confusion.

The idea, for instance, that I'll find a lover when I lose fifty pounds is self-defeating. There is a great possibility, totally ignored by such procrastinating thinking, that either the process of finding a lover will bring about the reduction in weight or, more probably, finding the lover will help accomplish that goal.

In another example, one is being delusional to think that "I've got to learn to be a slave before I look for a Master." It is much more reasonable to think that the search itself will contain a great many of the needed lessons and that the success itself, i.e., finding a Master, will lead to learning how to be a slave. After all, who is better able to teach you how to serve than your new Master?

During my seminary days I was blest with a year's stay on an island in Long Island Sound. It was there that I learned to sail. You cannot change course in a sailboat unless you are moving. Turn the rudder all you want, the boat will remain locked in its current position. The boat must be moving in order to change direction.

Cars work the same way. A parked car's direction won't budge, no matter how hard one turns the steering wheel. Once that car is moving, though, even the slightest nudge will change the way its pointing.

Want to find a partner? Get moving. And don't worry, at your age, it's OK to cross the street.

Copyright 1999 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact

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