Does it seem like you’ve been single forever? Have you given up on love after years of fruitless dating? Watching your friends pair up and settle down is frustrating when it feels impossible for you. Luckily, you don’t have to be resigned to a lonely life. Take a look at your dating behaviors and attitudes — changing just one thing might be the push you need to meet someone special and fall in love yourself.
1. Deep down, you may be really afraid. There are many reasons why you may be frightened of being in a committed relationship. What are those fears, exactly? Being rejected — again? Losing your autonomy? Being suffocated? Making another wrong choice? Opening your heart to love once more and having to deal with pain if it doesn’t work out?
Those fears can undermine our confidence and keep us from reaching out. However, this is only a serious problem if you are unaware of these fears. Once you begin to acknowledge and address these deeply-rooted issues, you can move forward and begin to engage in the kind of relationships you truly want. Begin with honest soul searching. Look closely at your past relationships. What happened? What conclusions did you draw? Look at your parents’ marriage. Would you want a marriage like theirs? It’s courageous to look at our fears and move forward in the face of their presence.
2. You may be more attached to your single life style than you are willing to admit. A long-term committed relationship requires you to change your ways. Perhaps you like that you can go where you want, when you want, and don’t wish to report to anyone about your choices. Perhaps you like the privacy of not having to include anyone else in your plans. Perhaps you’ve never considered the possibility that you could experience freedom in an intimate and committed relationship. It is possible, but first we have to believe it is so.
3. You’ve fallen prey to the scarcity belief! “There just aren’t that many good conscious, aware, available men or women out there.” It is so easy to get agreement and confirmation for this belief! Notice how quickly others will join in with this lament. However, with almost 7 billion people on the planet, half of them being the opposite sex, it is hard to imagine that there isn’t one that could be a good partner! Sometimes, we just have to challenge our beliefs.
4. You believe that all your previous relationships didn’t work because somehow you are missing that “relationship gene.” If we don’t have good experiences in relationships past (going back to the earliest ones as an infant), we can believe that relationship failures are somehow our fault, so we end up feeling inadequate. With this belief, not only does a person feel really terrible about not having a love relationship or losing a love relationship, they feel bad about themselves and who they are. It is important to remember we all bring strengths and weaknesses into our relationships. If we can learn from previous relationships, future relationships will be better.
5. The belief that when you find Mr. or Ms. Right, everything will flow easily from then on. Sometimes we think that challenges are a sign that this person is “just not right one for me.” You may not have found your perfect match if things are constantly difficult, but even great relationships have their share of challenges — especially in the early stages. There are many adjustments each will have to make, and sometimes they aren’t easy. Challenges are not necessarily an indication that it is a bad relationship. The other side of the coin is…
6. You want it so badly you just don’t see the warning signs. It can be really easy to go into denial when the desire for a partner is strong and you have been lonely for a while. If your friends are suggesting caution, pay attention. Look carefully! Does your partner pay attention to you and listen to you? How does your partner keep agreements? How does your partner treat others? Would you want a child to see him or her as a role model?
7. Like so many people, you believe you should have sex as soon as possible to see if you are compatible. The problem with this idea is that you quickly become emotionally entangled, especially if the sex is great. You then project your “ideal mate” expectations on this person. But you don’t really know who they are! It takes time to learn who a person is and what they value, to understand their character, to know how trustworthy they are.
It all takes time, and before you let yourself get so emotionally entangled, it is important to know who you are getting entangled with. Sometimes it works out, but often it doesn’t. When you discover that you really didn’t know this person, it hurts badly to become untangled… thus leaving you reluctant to try again with someone new. Take things slowly and minimize emotional fallout.