Single people all over the world are looking for love, yet so many singles can’t seem to find a mate. If you’re single, you may be familiar with the frustrations that often accompany dating and online dating that can lead to distress, despair and disillusionment.
Many of my single clients know this struggle well and want to know how they can find a suitable partner. Some are on the endless online dating merry-go-round, while others feel more and more hopeless and bitter with every year that passes and they still remain single
While I don’t think there is any formula for finding love, I do believe there are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of making a romantic connection and reduce your own self-sabotaging behaviours.
Open yourself to possibiities
If you’re a single person, one way you many be limiting yourself is by having a rigid partner template. A template is a fixed vision or idea of what you’re looking for in a partner.
Of course it’s important to know your core relationship needs (those needs that are non-negotiable) and be aware of your values when dating. However, many singles are passing up possible connections by filtering all the people that they meet through their template.
Often this template can be a combination of relationship myths about the ideal partner and not based in reality. It can also be reflective of your desire to feel complete and whole and have all your needs met. Unfortunately, the only time this symbiosis happens is in the first few months of life when your mother was attending to all your needs.
If you’re aware of your own template, this may also be a way to stop anyone from getting too close. You may find emotional intimacy confronting. And a convenient way to deal with your fear of intimacy is to reject prospective connections so that nobody gets close.
Value your strengths and gifts
You have unique and special gifts and strengths that nobody else has. When you start to value your own gifts, you will increase your sense of self and improve your self-image and self-esteem.
Being aware of your strengths will also help you recognise what you have to offer potential partners. And something very strange will happen. You will actually start to attract people into your life that also recognise your gifts and strengths. But it has to start with you and only you.
Many single people get stuck by trying to find a partner that will validate them and help them feel good about themself. This is a doomed strategy, as your very well-being and ‘ok-ness’ is based on the actions of another.
Start by validating yourself and honouring who you are and watch what happens.
Learn and grow from your past relationship hurts
We all have experiences growing up that impact us in one way or another. It’s just not possible to go through life and not be affected by our family of origin, former lovers, relationships or marriages and experiences at school and in the workplace.
These experiences shape us for better or worse. However, it’s the way you respond to the painful experiences that can become problematic in your relationships later in life. And if you’re single, it can be a large block to intimacy and the ability to form a long-term relationship.
For example, if you’ve been betrayed or rejected in an earlier relationship, you may have dealt with that by consciously or unconsciously deciding not to trust others. This becomes a major issue when you are trying to form an intimate connection later in life, where trust is essential for the relationship to develop. As you get close to your new partner, the primitive part of the brain that remembers painful experiences goes into overdrive. It’s likely you start to distrust the closeness or withdraw from the relationship in subtle ways. This is the brain’s natural defence response to pain.
If you’re aware of unresolved pain or unfinished business with events or people from your past, this is where therapy can help you move through those blocks and achieve resolution. It’s in the resolution of your unfinished business that actually frees you up to be more emotionally available in your current life and open to meeting someone that you can deeply connect with.
What’s your experience of being single? Did you look for love in all the wrong places, or were you able to move out of singledom and form a long-lasting relationship? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
photo credit: elBidule
Clinton Power is a relationship counsellor and Gestalt therapist with over a decade of experience helping individuals and couples move out of relationship pain and create great relationships. Get Clinton’s FREE report: 10 Tips for Moving Out of Relationship Pain, by clicking the button below.