7 Reasons You Might Still Be Single
Clearly, some people are single because they choose to be. They are simply not interested in being in a serious relationship at this time in their life. Others are single due to the circumstances of their lives. They may have just gotten out of a meaningful relationship or have dated relentlessly and just haven’t found someone with whom they’re truly compatible. The point of this article isn’t to stereotype all single women or men or to put anyone in a box. However, for people, particularly those over 30, who are looking for answers to the puzzling question “Why am I still single?” here are some unconventional answers that lie within.
A lot of people have been hurt in past relationships. With time and painful experiences, we all risk building up varying degrees of bitterness and become defensive. This process begins long before we start dating, in our childhoods when hurtful interactions lead us to put up walls. These adaptations can cause us to become increasingly self-protective and closed off. In our adult relationships, we may resist being too vulnerable.
2) Unhealthy Attractions
Because of our defences, we tend to choose less-than-ideal partners. We may establish an unsatisfying relationship by selecting a person who isn’t emotionally available. We often blame our partner for the relationship failed outcome. We tend to feel devastated or hurt by the repeated rejections, without recognizing that we are actually seeking out this pattern.
Our fears of separation with the image we developed of ourselves early on and starting to see ourselves in a more positive light, paradoxically make us feel uneasy and may trigger self-attacking thoughts like, “Who do you think you are? You’re not that great.” These fears may cause us to hold on to relationships without potential or to feel attracted to people who aren’t really available because they reinforce our negative image of ourselves, which feels more comfortable and familiar, albeit painful.
3) Fear of Intimacy
As psychologist and author Robert Firestone wrote in his article “You Don’t Want What You Say You Want” “Most of us profess that we want to find a loving partner, but the experience of real love disrupts fantasies of love that have served as a survival mechanism since early childhood… Pushing away and punishing the beloved acts to preserve one’s negative self-image reduces anxiety.”
Our fears surrounding intimacy may manifest as concerns over someone “liking us too much,” an irrational reason not to date a person. Or we may punish the other person by being critical or even engaging in odious behaviour, essentially making sure we don’t get the loving responses we say we want. The reality is that most people can only tolerate a certain amount of closeness. We are resistant to let someone else in. In other words, on a deeper level, we don’t necessarily want the love we say we want.
Our own defences often leave us feeling pickier and more judgmental. This is particularly true after we’ve had bad experiences, where we were deceived or rejected by a person we had strong feelings for. Many women start to have thoughts like, “There are no decent men out there” or “All the good ones are taken.” Men may have thoughts like, “You can’t trust a women” or “Women are all out to take advantage of you.” We may have unrealistic expectations for a partner or pinpoint weaknesses from the moment we meet someone. When viewing the world from critical or distrusting eyes, we tend to write off a range of potential partners before even giving them a chance. We think of dating certain people as “settling” without ever seeing how that person could make us happy in the long-term.
5) Low Self-Esteem
So many people have expressed the same sentiment. They believe they want a fulfilling relationship more than anything, but they believe even more firmly that no one worthwhile would be interested in them. We all possess “critical inner voices” that tell us we are too fat, too ugly, too old or too different. When we listen to these “voices” we engage in behaviours that push people away. When we remain single, it is not for the reasons that we’re telling ourselves. Our lack of confidence leaves us giving off signals of not being open. Many people even have trouble leaving the house when they’re really down on themselves, let alone pursuing situations where they are likely to meet potential partners. Some struggle to make eye contact or are reluctant to scan the room for who they might be attracted to. When they are drawn to someone, they may fail to pursue their strongest attractions for lack of self-esteem.
6) Fear of Competition
A lack of self-esteem often leads to fears of competing. It’s easy to put ourselves down in relation to others, especially when it comes to dating. When we meet someone we like, it’s all too easy to think, “He/she could do better.” When we see that someone else is interested in the person we like, we may be quick to back away. We may feel unwilling to compete, particularly as we get older, and we start to have self-attacks like “Your time has passed, you’re too old for this.” Our fears of competition can lead us to avoid putting ourselves out there. The simple truth is: dating is competitive. It is scary to take a chance and go for what we want and compete, but when we do we should often find, it is well worth it to face our fears. We end up with a stronger sense of self, and we increase our chances of creating a relationship with the partner we really desire.
7) Isolation and Routine
With age, people tend to retreat further and further into their comfort zones. Modern women are more and more successful, accomplished and self-sufficient, which are all extremely positive developments. Yet, as both men and women get more comfortable, be it financially or practically, it is also easier for them to form a bubble from which it is difficult to emerge. It can feel harder to take risks or put themselves out there. After a long day at work, many of us may feel more like putting on pyjamas and crawling into bed than going out into the uncertain and anxiety-provoking world of meeting people.
The encouragement we feel to stay home or stay safe often comes from our critical inner voice. “Just stay in tonight and relax. You’re fine on your own. Have a glass of wine. Watch that show you like.” The problem with this voice is that it later turns on you with thoughts like, home alone again, you will be lonely the rest of your life. Many of the activities we use to “comfort” ourselves actually make us feel bad in the end, as they result in us avoiding pursuing what we really want in life. It is important to resist falling into a comfort zone and to repeatedly challenge the influence of our critical inner voice.
We have been inspired by Psychology today as well as a fabulous book « Conquer your Critical inner Voice » Co-written by Dr. Lisa Firestone and her father Dr. Robert Firestone.