I’ll be turning 33 in January, so I’m not old, but I’m no spring chicken either. I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things in that time, too. Of the lessons I learned, one of the most significant was the importance of intimate relationships. In my practice and in my personal life, I’ve met people who suffered a great deal because of a lack of intimacy: Men who put their jobs or their pastimes before their families. Women who put careerism before motherhood. And many more people who let fear, hedonism, and complacency prevent them from developing meaningful connections with real people.
When it dawned on them that they had reached an inflection point, they were filled with intense regret. Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson used the term despair to describe people who were living in ways that were out of sync with their true self-interest – out of sync with their true nature, their essential identity. I felt a lot of sympathy for these people; they were clients, co-workers, friends, family members – all people who had accepted someone else’s version of reality and followed it only to find that it led nowhere. In almost every instance, they all shared the same burning question: “How did this happen to me?”
I don’t want to come across like some new-age, hippie mystic, but they have a point when they say that the most important thing in this world is love. Love for oneself, love for ones’ family, their community, their country, God, their way of life – these are the foundations of health and happiness and cannot possibly be replaced by anything else. One thing that I believe people lose sight of, particularly young people, is that you only have so much time to cultivate these kinds of love. And once that time passes, it will be gone forever. All that will remain is the feeling of remorse; remorse for having neglected the most essential and timeless human need of all – love.
Love is difficult to achieve and harder still to maintain, and to some degree, our present culture has made a virtue out of turning away from the possibility of love. It has become noble to disregard intimacy as foolish, outdated, unrealistic, and dangerous. And yet, even with the demonization of intimacy, we still crave human connection. To accommodate this loss, we traded love for lust, and honesty for power. The human spirit cannot flourish without true and lasting love, and so in this week’s blog I write to remind you of the importance of intimacy. If you find that you are frustrated with the lack of love in your life and don’t understand how you ever got that way, then fear not. For this week I am presenting you with the five reasons you’re still single. They might not all describe your situation, but likely anyone reading will find a reflection of their circumstance below.
A few simple suggestions…
Here are five reasons you’re still single:
- You’re an idealist.
- You’re a romantic (in the bad way).
- You think you have all the time in the world.
- Your priorities are all wrong.
- You think everyone is untrustworthy. 1. You’re an idealist.
Love is a feeling, and feelings are practical. They are real responses to real situations. Idealized love is the enemy of the true feeling itself. Idealism is a form of abstraction. Not that abstract thinking is bad per say. And not that you shouldn’t have an ideal you’re pursuing either. But when you sacrifice real opportunities with real people because they do not perfectly conform to the ideal in your mind, you hurt yourself and diminish your chances for a real love. Let the ideal guide you to the person who you can most reasonably imagine a life with. Don’t reject people because they aren’t exactly what you think your partner should be like. And don’t break up with people that you love and have compatibility with because of the pursuit of some hypothetical ‘better person’. Romance only gets more difficult as you get older. People have more baggage, you have less time and energy – there are simply more complications.
2. You’re a romantic (in the bad way).
Romanticism is very attractive, but one must be careful about what they are romanticizing. This can also be a barrier to true intimacy. Are you busy fantasizing about a love long lost? Romanticizing your loneliness? Is there someone you know is wrong for you and yet you long for them all the same? Engaging in romantic thought is engaging in a kind of fantasy thinking. It is solipsistic. Solipsism, of course, is the practice of imagining that the real world is no different from the contents of your thoughts. Don’t mistake your own wishful thinking for the real thing. You will lose years of your life and many opportunities with people who really do exist and really will love you the way you imagine your romanticized love will be. Romanticism, while not always wrong, in this context serves as a kind of escapism to shield people from the harshness of really putting yourself out there. You get all of the fuzzy warm feelings of love with none of the work or hardship.
3. You think you have all the time in the world.
This is very common, especially for young women. After all, pregnancy is a time sensitive matter. Putting that aside, a lot of these kinds of problems cut across both lanes of the gender divide. Sure, men want to sow their wild oats. And yes, women want to practice their empowered sexuality. But the reality is, more notches under your belt means more scar tissue on your spirit. And more time spent playing the field means fewer players in the game the longer you’re in it. Dating is like robbing a bank – you want to get in and out as quickly as possible and leave behind no witnesses. People who aren’t fortunate enough to get hitched before they turn 25 often find themselves into their 30’s and 40’s looking around and wondering where they went wrong. Life is better when it’s spent with someone you trust; all the trials and tribulations are easier to manage when you don’t have to do it alone. If you think you have all the time in the world, life will prove you wrong. This is a fallacy that hits young people the hardest because they just don’t know any better. It takes experience to figure out that life passes you by in the blink of an eye. It’s far better to listen to those who know then figure it out yourself.
4. Your priorities are all wrong.
What is important to you? Many people (young people in particular) view intercourse as the primary reason for interacting with the opposite sex. If you view people as objects, you’re never going to find love. Perhaps you think you need ‘experience’ before you can find the right one. Believe me when I say that the person who one day falls in love with you won’t do it because you’re so well-practiced in the bedroom. Maybe you think that climbing the ladder or getting a graduate degree so you don’t have to think about earning a paycheck are more important. Self-improvement and personal development are indeed important, but that doesn’t mean other people are obstacles to your lofty goals. And if you are so intently focused on yourself, you may never stop to see what other people may actually have to offer you. Or what you might have to offer others.
5. You think everyone is untrustworthy.
Now this is a slightly different situation, because none of the previous tips implied psychological or emotional issues at the root of being single. If you distrust everyone around you, you distrust yourself. You’re single because you’re projecting on other people the weaknesses and inadequacies you know reside within yourself. Maybe other people have betrayed you in the past. So maybe the reality is your justified in your distrust of others. But another way of looking at this would be to ask what kind of person you are that you were so easily and so often betrayed? This may sound harsh, but there is always a way of looking inward to understand why we find ourselves in bad situations.
Some parting thoughts…
These are just a few of the reasons why you might still be single (especially if you’d otherwise prefer not to be). Of course, not everyone who is single is that way because of something wrong about their attitude or emotional state. It is entirely possible (and totally reasonable) that people are single because they know what they want and are willing to sacrifice for it. However, if that does not describe you, then it may be worth your while to take this blog to heart.
Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to share this blog! To schedule an appointment, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at (347) 460 – 2703