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Do you daydream about when and where you’ll meet the love of your life? Odds are that if you do, it’s a pretty perfect picture, but the fact of the matter is, things don’t always work out the way we plan.

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The issue with actively searching for a life partner is that you may start to create expectations in your head: what he/she will look like, the type of life you’ll share, and so on. These expectations could ultimately blind you from seeing that your true love is hiding in plain sight!

As someone who can relate to finding love in the strangest of places, I couldn’t help but smile as I scrolled through the following images. The team at Bride & Groom Direct produced these cartoons, inspired by their favourite submissions from a recent contest they hosted. The contestants were asked where they met their future spouses, and their answers illustrate that love can clearly be found where we least expect it.

car-park“In a car park at 11pm… imagine how scared I was!!” We’re all so indoctrinated with “stranger danger” that a stranger talking to us can send out red flags. There’s a fine line between thinking everyone is out to get you and being too trusting, which is why it’s crucial to allow your intuition to guide you! Who knows, maybe the next stranger you meet in a dark alley will be your future partner?cows

“We both had to pretend to be cows in front of our drama class.” It’s important to be able to express yourself around your partner, so meeting your partner in a creative setting could be a blessing in disguise!drug-dealer

“He was my boyfriend’s dealer. Sounds bad, I know, but it worked out quite well. Been together for 7 years now, married for 3, and clean for 6.” This one may be my favourite because it serves as a beautiful reminder that personal growth doesn’t have to mean you and your partner will break up. Your growth will naturally shift your relationship and could inspire your partner to grow with you, rather than apart from you.

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fart“I met my wife because I farted. True story. I’m standing in line at a coffee shop and letting pass some serious silent-but-deadlies. I was on a pretty hefty raw broccoli kick at the time. Anyway, I didn’t notice, but right behind me is this beautiful girl, who turns and asks me “if I smell that?”. I pretend to sniff the air and then point to someone a few paces ahead of us.”  People can bond over literally anything!

halo“Accidentally killed him while playing the video game, Halo Reach, he started talking after that, then he moved from Washington state to Florida to be with me :)” Meeting someone online doesn’t have to be through a dating website, clearly! Keep your mind and heart open, because you never know where you’ll connect with someone.

naked-party“We met at a no pants party. Yup, neither of us were wearing pants. 7 years later, we are still together.” Well, vulnerability is attractive.

prison“The concrete exercise yard of a maximum-security prison, surrounded by 15-foot high barbed wire fences and some lovely inmates (we were working). Thankfully, we’re not getting married there” If you work together, you may have the same interests and values. Who knows, maybe one of your colleagues is your future spouse?puke

“I met my future wife during a music festival. She puked in front of my VW bus. Love at first sight…” We’ve all been there; it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. If anything, this shows compassion and that true beauty lies within us, not the physical realm!

sexual-health-clinic“We met in a Sexual Health clinic. I always love starting with that! We were both staff! During a boring meeting, we didn’t get off to the best start. Over time we became best friends and the rest is history! Now we have a house, a dog, and are getting married.”  Occupation can say a lot about a person — your colleagues could be your future best friends or your soul mates!

tesco“We met in aisle 10 of our local Tesco store and bonded over our love for Marmite. That was 4 years ago and we’re getting married next year. So excited!” Love is everywhere, even when you’re running errands.

The Strangest Places I’ve Found Love Are…

My former partner and I were together for four years. We met in our first year of university — he came into my classroom, sat down next to me, and started talking to me. It was the first day of classes and my professor was very late, so we ended up chatting for quite a while.

When the teacher finally arrived, he stood up and said, “Anyways, I’m not in this class, I just wanted to come talk to you. It was nice meeting you!” Months later we ran into each other again and laughed about our first interaction. Months turned into years and we ended up sharing an awesome relationship together!

My advice is to stop envisioning what it will be like to find your perfect partner and surrender to the present moment. By eliminating any expectations you have about your love life, you will not only become happier, but also be more likely to have successful romantic relationships in the future because you won’t compare your partner to your previous expectations. I’m not saying you should settle for someone who doesn’t hold the same values as you; I’m simply suggesting you keep an open mind.

Although relationships can be beautiful experiences and I’ve enjoyed a number of them, perhaps the “strangest” place I’ve found love is within myself. Our realities can appear to be so finite and physical, but to think there’s nothing more than what meets the eye is so Earthly. When my boyfriend and I broke up, it allowed me to focus my attention on myself and what lies within me.

By spending more time with myself, meditating, and practicing yoga, I was able to further grasp the nature of who I am as an individual and as a component of the collective consciousness. Once you develop more self-love and a deeper understanding of your fundamental needs as an individual and in a partnership, you can be more prepared to choose a life partner (if you even want one). At the end of the day, you don’t need a partner to find love, because that exact same love lies within each and every one of us.

That begs the questions: Are we meant to be in long-term relationships or to be with only one person? I don’t believe there is a “wrong” answer to these questions; it’s simply something to reflect on. The only thing I believe to remain true is that regardless of whether you’re single or in a relationship, you have the ability to find everlasting love within yourself.

“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”

— Rumi


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