A question I hear almost daily in my office is what factors or behaviors can prevent one from finding a loving relationship. The answer boils down to a combination of reasons, the first of which is simply not searching persistently enough. One must always be on the lookout to follow a lead. Leads might include dating services and bars, but it also means finding out more about anyone who interests you — to a degree that’s appropriate, of course. Note that this does not include engaging in any behavior that could result in a restraining order.
Another reason is fear of rejection. Unfortunately, when it comes to romance, rejection goes with the territory. It’s a sad fact of life: Some people you like just won’t like you back. (Of course, you’re not going to like everyone who likes you, either.) Love happens when two people like each other at just the right time — serendipitous perhaps, but ultimately probable.
People can short-circuit their efforts by wasting time and energy on people or activities that distract them from overcoming the two factors listed above. Sometimes we allow toxic people to deplete the serenity required to attract a potential mate. The best time to attract a good person is when you’re contentedly engaged in your career and your friendships. The resulting inner calm creates an emotional glow that appeals to others.
People sometimes assume that they’ll never find love because “There’s something wrong with me.” It’s important to figure out where this unfounded belief is coming from. In counseling, for example, it can become apparent that a person didn’t feel loved by his or her abusive or otherwise emotionally distant parents. People have to realize that just because they weren’t loved the way they wanted to be doesn’t make them unlovable as adults. That was their parents’ problem, not theirs. If they fall prey to this dysfunctional belief, they’re going to approach new people as if they know something is wrong with them. This will scare away a healthy prospect.
Columnist Lisa Stuart offers a sensible perspective on coping with singlehood: “Being single does not have to mean feeling lonely. Distract yourself by making a point to spend time with friends, take up a new hobby, read the books you’ve been wanting to read … watch whatever you want to watch on television whenever you want to watch it … spend quality time with your children and/or pets … or doing anything your heart desires while you’re waiting for the love of your life to come along.”
The silver lining around the dark cloud of singlehood is that you’re free to do whatever you want. Once you’re with someone, you give up some of that — willingly, one hopes, but there are tradeoffs to everything. Some single people are set in their ways and prefer to do things without having to consider others’ wants and needs.
Compatibility is the key to relationships that work best. Ideally, partners want to do many of the same things, but at the same time they’re not threatened by their other half sometimes doing different things. Relationships usually don’t work quite as well when one or both partners are convinced that they must enjoy exactly the same activities and do everything together.
Single life is not always a prescription for loneliness. Sadly, some of the loneliest people I’ve met are actually married. For whatever reason, they feel little or no connection with their spouse, and every day is a sad reminder that they don’t have what they want. Relationships like that are proof positive that being coupled doesn’t necessarily eliminate loneliness.
It’s psychologically healthy to enjoy your own company and the company of friends whether or not you’re in a relationship. That positive point of view can play a big part in attracting equally healthy partners. Sounds like a paradox, but it’s true: In order to find the love you want, you have to be content with being on your own. If you’re OK in your own company, it’s easier to attract somebody who will be just as happy there too.