St. Patrick's Day 2011: Are you lucky in love?

My first St. Patrick’s Day date involved multiple hours of brain-damaging trance music -- you know, the kind that causes permanent ear damage.

So much for the luck of the Irish.

Scour the Internet and you’ll quickly find formulas claiming to ensure a long-lasting romance. Wear this outfit, use this pickup line, try this recipe, sources say.

After reading the average love manual, you’ll conclude that many people succeed in love because they follow a calculated series of well-researched behaviors.

But how much of a relationship’s success relies solely on sheer luck?

The question comes to mind on St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday that contradicts many of the ideas relationship manuals seem to emphasize. Without relying on a road map or a specific set of instructions, people spot rainbows and find magic gold coins.

A similar sense of luck is often present in relationships.

Take, for example, discussions of timing.

Daters often explain breakups with lines like “we were just at different places in our lives” and “the timing was off.”

It reflects a belief that larger forces -- things beyond the reach of advice columns -- influence our romantic ties.

And let’s not forget the diverse answers to a popular relationship question: “How did you meet?”

Yes, some events -- like speed dating -- are specifically designed to help singles master the meet market.

Yet many other stories of love at first sight involve chance encounters, like a seemingly mundane trip to the supermarket that unexpectedly helped you meet the man of your dreams in aisle five.

It’s a common platitude in the relationship world: “You find love when you’re least looking for it.”

To some extent, it’s true: Maintaining constant faith in romantic guidance and aggressive search strategies can backfire, making you overlook the more serendipitous factors that are equally important in love.

Rely entirely on luck, however, and you risk disappointment when a bronze babe doesn’t magically appear beside you on the sofa. If you want a relationship, you have to do a little bit of work.

(And yes, I just used the phrase “bronze babe.” I have no regrets.)

Perhaps it’s best to not take luck for granted, but regard it as something that helps us explain the many aspects of love that fall into the murky territory between “do” and “don’t.”

At least that’s what a little leprechaun told me.

Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8516.

Related stories from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer