It’s such a common question, but believe it or not, there is an actual answer. I know a lot of single people, and I get a lot of questions about dating. Even when I was married I found myself giving a ton of advice. I love people, I love love, I love when people find love. And, from what I see, most people are happier when they have the RIGHT person with whom they can meaningfully share their lives.
For a long time I would try to help my friends and give them what I thought was solid advice. If they listened, how could they go wrong?? Why did some make connections and some just keep finding themselves back at square one?! Why ARE they still single?
This was so frustrating for me. At the time, I figured I couldn’t win them all, and just accepted this as the percentage of people who will never find The One. We hear all the time how there are no good men, all the good ones are taken, men of a certain age only want young women, and on and on. People hear these excuses and just accept them as fact.
Then who are all these people FINDING partners, and what special magic do they have? What is the difference between those who are connecting and those who aren’t? These are not all young, thin, smart, gorgeous women finding partners-they are normal people just like you and me. As I examined my admittedly small sample size of single friends, it didn’t take long to see that every person who was still single, but claimed to want to meet someone, had something holding them back. I could see that plain as day. The problem is getting them to see that too.
I see it in every case: if you really want a partner, he/she is out there for you. If you find yourself single for an extended period, and really want to meet someone, maybe begin to turn that focus inward instead of blaming external factors. My theory is that if you aren’t meeting someone, there is always a reason. You need to be ready to figure out the reason and take some (possibly uncomfortable) steps to fix it.
Let’s start with just two questions.
First and foremost, are you happy with yourself? If you aren’t, how can you expect someone else to be happy with you? More importantly, how can you expect to attract a partner who can be part of a healthy relationship going forward? Let’s get you there first and I guarantee the rest will follow. What actions are you taking to get there? Get healthy, get centered, get real with yourself.
Second, are you sure you actually want to find a partner right now? Do you want to share your life, your time? Are you willing to make the compromises and sacrifices that it might take to fit someone else into your life? To what extent? It’s not always the right time. There is a time that people may need to be a little more self focused, and that’s perfectly ok too.
You want some real life examples?
A dear friend, who has been single for years, still insists that she wants a companion, but she is fully convinced that men fall into two categories: those in whom she’d never be interested, and those who are pathological liars and only want sex from women 20 years their junior. Well, I wouldn’t want to date either if those were my choices! I think this particular friend falls into both categories. She’s not open to meeting a man, and she’s putting up barriers because she doesn’t like or value herself enough to see herself as a prize.
My friend Cammie didn’t date for years. She never wanted kids and was completely focused on her very lucrative, but time consuming, business. In any free time she did have, she kept herself busy with philanthropic activities. In the past, she dated here and there, but never found it to be more fulfilling than other ways she spent her time, so it never took center stage. From the beginning, however, she had two non negotiables: any man in her life couldn’t hold her back from her career aspirations, and she never wanted to feel like she was taking care of a man financially. I have to admit that she seemed pretty happy in her life otherwise.
So here’s Cammie’s follow up: at 44 she traded her own business for a lush position at a Fortune 500 that required little travel and gave her much more free time. She decided to try online dating and fairly quickly met a man who gave her everything she had desired. He was a retired hedge fund manager who now spent time managing his own money. He allows her to have the spotlight, and she hasn’t felt she’s had to change anything to please him. No settling, it just may have taken a little longer than most would have been happy waiting, but for Cammie, the timing couldn’t have been better.
How about Allie? She says she does want to meet someone, but when presented with suggestions, this is what it sounds like:
“The game is tomorrow, take some friends and go to a restaurant that’s showing it.”
“Gross. Not my kind of guys.”
“What about going to a nice bar and having a drink by yourself and just try talking to a few people, 20 minutes tops?”
“I’m not comfortable with that.”
“How about joining a meetup group that is focused on something you like? Hiking? Exploring new restaurants? Wine tasting?”
“I don’t really want to do that alone.”
Does this friend want to find a partner? She thinks she does, but this is akin to saying you want a job, yet never sending out a resume or going on an interview. This friend soon decided that she wasn’t ready to date and realized she had been unconsciously putting up these barriers.
My last example is the woman who dates men who will never become a true partner. There are red flags of incompatibility, yet she continues to date him, finding herself caught up in what I have heard referred to as the “vacuum principle.” If there’s already someone in your house, there’s not room for anyone else. If you are serious about finding a partner, you can’t keep those around who aren’t candidates who align with your goals. If the sex is great, and that is your goal, there is no judgment, but please don’t expect (on ANY level) for great sex to turn into marriage.
So, if you really want an answer to why you’re single, I have it. Just be sure you’re ready to hear it.