Just take a look at Instagram: there it is, always in a pretty font and with a praying hands emoji: “What’s meant to be, will be.”
We’ve all heard it: It’s a common saying that conveys the idea that certain events or outcomes in life are predetermined or fated, and they will ultimately happen regardless of one’s efforts or actions. It suggests a belief in destiny, indicating that some things are beyond our control and will unfold as they are supposed to.
I understand how the idea can encourage patience and trust, and I used to believe it… or rather, I believe it in a certain context, or with a certain interpretation (and maybe, with a *).
But ultimately, here’s my beef with “what’s meant to be, will be,” especially in the context of dating: it inspires passivity and it relieves a person of responsibility for their own human agency and actions. Let me explain.
Here’s my beef with “what’s meant to be, will be,” especially in the context of #dating: it inspires passivity and it relieves a person of responsibility for their own human agency and actions.
Why “what’s meant to be” removes personal power
When I arrived in Mexico City this past spring, I was really excited to stay in a place for a period of time that’s long-term (for me). Months in one city would give me a chance to really get immersed in the city, live the way of life, to make friends, to develop a routine, to pursue some of my creative and entrepreneurial pursuits, and… date.
And date I have (to no long-term success), but what I have encountered on the single life, both in Mexico City and elsewhere in the world, is overall passivity.
Early on when I arrived in CDMX, I went on one date with a guy I’ll call “C.” It was a good date, I found him mature, and it seemed like we had a lot in common. While I wasn’t completely sold (I seldom am, on the first date), in explicit terms, I told him I’d go out with him again. After some back and forth, and some attempts to schedule something, one of the last messages he sent to me was “I hope to see you soon.”
Well… good luck hoping, C! (Thoughts and prayers ≠ actions, buddy!)
Look, I’m not picking on C, he’s just an example, representative of a larger issue: how people use the idea “what’s meant to be, will be” to find comfort or acceptance in situations where they may feel powerless or uncertain about their influence on the outcome. It’s actually a cop out.
The truth is, C had power and personal responsibility in his desired outcome. Had he said instead, “I’d love to see you soon. How about dinner next Tuesday or Wednesday?” — I would’ve accepted.
While I get that “what’s meant to be, will be” can bring peace and inspire patience that everything will happen just as it is supposed to — and while I agree that things do always work out as they are supposed to — that doesn’t mean we should just sit on our a$$es.
Related closely to this POV are my thoughts on manifestation.
The problem with manifestation, the newest buzzword
Manifestation is a concept often associated with the belief that you can bring your desires, goals, or intentions into reality through focused thought, visualization, and belief.
And I love this, I really do. I believe that visualization techniques and having a strong mental image of your goals, combined with positive affirmations, intention-setting, and expressing gratitude — can be really powerful tools for motivation.
But be careful it’s not just wishful thinking, ya’ll. Manifestation is not about just hoping for something and waiting for it to happen — it involves taking concrete steps or actions aligned with your goals.
C could hope to see me again on the street, or in the grocery store (in the biggest city in North America, no less)… or he could actually see me!
Sure, I believe in abundance; I believe I will accomplish everything I choose to. But my memoir is not gonna write itself. The man who will be my next great love is not just going to fall into my lap, relationships take concerted effort on both sides. While I agree it’s so so important to know in my core that I will attract success and love into my life — I’m not going to get anywhere only by concentrating my thoughts and emotional energies.
It takes intention, it takes action, and it takes consistency.
Fate, vs. free will and personal autonomy
Again, I’m not picking on C, or any of the A-Z men I’ve gone out with who have behaved similarly. What’s meant to be will be, and it wasn’t us! But, and I want to stress… if you do want something in life, you can’t just imagine it and hope for it. You’ve gotta do something about it.
- I have NO qualms being vulnerable and expressing my desires.
- I’ll weigh the pros and cons, my goals, and the cost of inaction: and hell yes, I’ll take a chance and a risk.
- If I want something, I believe I can have it and that I deserve it, and I take steps in that direction.
- Yes, even in the face of rejection, or failure, or the possibility of disastrous results. (At least I’ll have tried!)
- And I’m not saying it’s not hard, but it’s MY hard. I choose it, I’ll do it, and I’LL OWN IT.
(I hope you’ve caught on… I’m not just talking about dating anymore, but all aspects of life!)
While the higher power may know how my life is going to go, who I’m going to end up with, and what I will eventually accomplish… I DON’T believe in fate.
Spiritually speaking, I believe in free will — that individuals have the ability to make choices and decisions, and that we possess autonomy and the capacity to act according to our own intentions and desires. How sad is it to think that events follow a set path, that our human actions and choices are controlled by some external force that we have no way to influence, that we are trapped and powerless and someone else is pulling the strings? That’s a cop out.
We are not trapped and we are not powerless. And it’s not just big things — seemingly small or simple decisions can change the entire trajectory of your life. It did for me.
You can quit.
You can leave him (or her).
You can make different financial decisions.
You can live somewhere else.
You can say yes, no, and later.
What’s meant to be, will be… but YOU get to decide how passive or active a role you play.
“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” — Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur and writer