You look around you and it seems like EVERYONE has no problem finding their “plus one”. As you go home alone to an empty bed, night after night, and after each and every event where you are the 3rd wheel or told “You’re such a catch, I can’t believe you are single”, you ask yourself if your time will ever come when you will finally click with that one person.
You wonder why it's so difficult for you to connect with someone when you know you have so much love to give and know you would treat someone so well. You long to be with someone, to love someone, to have someone to do things with. Yet, day after day, you find yourself alone and slowly starting to lose hope that it will ever happen in your lifetime.
As you think back to your dating experiences lately, you’ve met quite a few people, but there always seemed to be some reason why they weren’t worth pursuing. You told yourself that if there was not an initial physical attraction, based on your past experiences when you have tried and tried to date someone hoping that it would “just happen” one day if it wasn’t there from the beginning, then you immediately counted them out. There were several first and no second dates, based on that.
Then, you had your list of deal-breakers that you absolutely promised yourself you would not compromise on. You have tried to overlook some of these before when you really, really wanted it to work out with someone, and after enough pain and hurt from failed relationships, you have now promised yourself that there was no way you were ever going to be with someone who had even just one of those.
Sure, some of your friends have told you your standards are too high and that you need to compromise more, but the way you see it, if you are going to spend the rest of your life with someone, you don’t want to compromise. And really, why should you? As you look around you, you see happy couples who seem so in love and, from what you can see, they did not have to compromise. So, why should you? Right?
Here in-lies the big question:
When does a list of deal-breakers and adherence to high standards go from being a healthy set of guidelines to help in finding a good partner, to an excuse to keep yourself from having to commit to a relationship?
Is Fear of Commitment Getting in Your Way?
Despite many people adamantly professing their desire to be in a loving, committed relationship, when it ultimately comes down to it, those same people are also perpetually alone and it may have nothing to do with them being so “unlucky” in love, but more to do with their own fear of commitment getting in the way. It is quite easy to convince yourself that someone is not a good match for you if your list of “deal breakers” is so long, and if you set your standards for your ideal partner and relationship so high.
You may actually believe that you are just never meeting “the one” or “connecting”, and even feel sorry for yourself that you just can’t seem to “click” with anyone like everyone else is. But, if you really, really ask yourself what is going on, is it possible that nobody you meet will ever reach your high standards or have none of your deal-breakers?
While it is healthy to have a sense of what you do and don’t want in a partner, there is a point at which not being able to see past your ideal lists and having an unwillingness to compromise, will keep you from ever being in a relationship.
While you may truly want to be in a relationship and feel lonely because you are not in one, your fear of commitment may actually be the reason why you are not in one. It could have nothing to do with the lack of available partners or you being so “unlucky in love”. But this may actually not be something you are doing consciously on purpose.
I blame part of it on today’s media and portrayal of relationships in movies and TV. There are so many portrayals of highly attractive, successful people having expensive, romantic dates that most “normal” people just can’t relate to. Yet, with enough exposure to portrayals of dating like this, people have come believe that anything less than this is “settling”.
So what was once a “normal” first date is now compared to the internalized concept of what a “successful” date and partner are. Let’s face it, more times than not, real life will just fall short and be disappointing, leaving any thought of continuing onto a second date as simply “settling”.
So What’s the Bottom Line?
First of all, you really don’t know what is going on with other couples. So, assuming anything about how happy or unhappy another couple is or isn’t is futile. There are no “perfect” couples. Every couple has differences, argue, and understand that their partner isn’t “perfect”, and therefore accept that and make compromises in order to make the relationship work.
An unfortunate truth that I see in working with many people who cannot seem to maintain a relationship past a few months despite claiming they want one, is that once the initial crazy chemistry where both people want to ravage one another and cannot think about anything other than being together wanes, they believe that the relationship has somehow changed and it is a sign that things are no longer working.
Most of the time, break ups occur right around this phase. Which is unfortunate because that initial lust and intense chemistry wanes for everyone and it does not mean anything about the relationship going forward. In fact, relationships have many phases and it is those couples that understand that and are willing to work through them that stick together and have strong, healthy relationships.
I again blame the media for portraying love as this highly romanticized, chemical flood of overwhelming emotion and lust so much so that anything less than that in the real world is chalked up to “mediocre” and not worth pursuing.
I see far too many people waiting around to have that “feeling”, probably missing out of being with a really good partner in doing so. Or, they do feel it and end up with a very unhealthy partner because they believe that “that feeling” alone is enough to signify that they have finally found “the one”, and then end up ignoring other, more problematic issues in the relationship. Sexual chemistry is a very powerful thing. Yes, attraction is necessary, but when it clouds the ability to make sound decisions about partners and dating, it is really a problem.
To love someone is a choice. It is not a feeling. When two people are in a relationship and they say they love one another, they really are saying they are committed to being there for one another, to working through the good and bad times, and to accept the other person for all of who and what they are. There are no perfect people, couples or lists of deal breakers or standards.
While I believe that it is healthy for people to make those lists of deal breakers and standards as a guideline from which to help them choose a partner, it is a completely different thing when those things become a means by which to exclude potentially compatible partners and ultimately avoid commitment.
So, what does this all mean for you? If you find that you have not been successful in dating and that you really can’t seem to find anyone that remotely meets what you are looking for, perhaps it is time to take a step back and think about if the reason why is more than just “bad luck”, or that there are just no good people out there to date.
Seeking help with a trained therapist can help you to understand yourself better and help you to identify some possible faulty beliefs, patterns and behaviors that could be contributing to your troubles with relationships. Or, if nothing else, it could help you to understand if you might be afraid to commit, and if so, why.