It’s been seven years since the publication of the wildly popular self-help book The Secret, which was featured on Oprah twice and has sold almost 20 million copies (yes, in that order). The principle at the book’s core—the Law of Attraction—still holds many under its Vulcan mind-meld grip, despite the take-downs, harsh criticism, and parodies. (On that note, please watch this interview with Barbara Ehrenreich on The Daily Show—it’s so worth it.)I can see why: Who wouldn’t want to believe that all you have to do is think the right thoughts and the love (or car, or job, or money) of your dreams will find you?
The Secret, written by Donna Byrne and published in 2006, featured a cadre of “new thought” leaders (including James Ray, who not long after The Secret was published, was found guilty of negligent homicide in the deaths of three people who participated in his insane sweat lodge exercise). Citing quantum physics and the ubiquitous Law of Attraction, these experts teach that like attracts like, and that your thoughts function as cosmic magnets that draw toward you whatever you project.
Think good thoughts, get good things. Think bad thoughts, get what you deserve.
But let’s take a look at how key premises of the Law of Attraction can do you more harm than good in the search for love and partnership.
1. If you want to meet a man, make room for his imaginary car in your garage.
A woman featured in The Secret swears that the reason she hadn’t met someone special yet was because she was taking up all the room in her garage and sleeping in the middle of the bed. Once she cleared up the garage to make room for her fantasy man’s imaginary Honda Prius and started keeping to her side of the bed, what do you know? He appeared!
Correction: Make room in your life for someone special.
Look, if you like sleeping in the middle of your bed, by all means. My god. It’s your bed. Sleep the way you want. As for the garage theory, sure, it is a good idea to make room in your life for another person. And while that may warrant a huge de-cluttering, it could just mean purging your ex’s stuff. But that’s just one aspect. You should also clear room in your schedule—to go on dates, to go out with friends, to accept invites to dinners rather than justifying another night in and wait for someone to stroll in and occupy the space you’ve cleared for him