So you’re single on Valentine’s Day. My first thought is: so what? These days people live so long everyone is guaranteed to find themselves without a partner on February 14 sooner or later. Being single really is no big deal. Seriously.
But as I’ve said before, sooner or later most people just want to be in a happy relationship. Not because they’re anti-feminist or needy or anything. But because, hey, that’s what people do! They get born, grow up, pair off, and give birth –though maybe not always in that order. As a result, eventually a single lady starts asking herself why she’s still single. And this is where I, as a quote-unquote relationship expert (and by expert, I mean Person Who Has Examined Her Own Failures Enough To Know What To Stop Doing, Immediately) –enter the picture.
Women ask me all the time -- on Facebook, on Twitter, or in the shoe department at Macy’s – why they’re still single when they don’t want to be. And though there are many possible answers for why this is, I thought I’d try something new and tell you my thoughts on why it isn’t. So here goes, in no particular order:
1. You’re Too Fabulous. This is when you’re so awesome no one wants to be with you. Right! I often hear ladies telling themselves (or their friends) that they’re so great, they’re scaring off prospective partners. This is a disservice to women and men both! Can I just say men don’t mind fabulous? What they mind is ego-driven, self-centered, and/or any form of unkind. (Just like women, btw.) Being beautiful or accomplished will never disqualify you from having a partner. When people say you’re intimidating, what they really mean is something closer to overbearing, or hard. They just don’t know how to say it. It might be difficult to hear, but in order to really draw someone into your life, you might need to soften. Softening doesn’t mean being weak, but it does mean being vulnerable. Because if you’re not vulnerable, it’s virtually impossible to form a wonderful partnership with another human being. It just is.
2. There Are No Good Men Out There. Another big lie. There are good men everywhere, in every age group! If you read the New York Times wedding announcements every week, as I have for the past ten years, you will quickly see that even in a big, mean city like New York, there are great men who are committing to wonderful women 52 weeks a year. And almost none of these people are supermodels. The key to meeting a great guy is walking around with your heart open, which means being nice to men you don’t even think you’re attracted to. Love begins with faith,and that means believing there are good men out there, and that love is possible no matter how big the odds seem against it.
3. You Just Have Really High Standards. I know what you’re thinking: how in heaven’s name can you argue with high standards? But I have news: everyone has really high standards! Saying you have really high standards is sort of like saying you’d like to be a multimillionaire and live in a beautiful home in your town’s best neighborhood. Who wouldn’t want that?! But as adults, we understand not everyone is going to have that, and that most of us probably don’t even need that to be happy. Then there is the delicate matter of feasibility: one woman’s really high standards are another woman’s unrealistic expectations. Add the fact that your Tom Brady dream catch is holding out for a Gisele to call his own and, well, it becomes clear that you might need to adjust your really high standards. Just a little. From, say, waiting in vain for Mr.Everything On Your List, to happily loving Mr. Mere Mortal Such As Yourself.
4. You Shouldn’t Have To Settle.This is related to the idea of high standards, but slightly different. It’s also plain crazy. Just ask any married person – they are settling on a constant basis. Only they don’t call it “settling”, they call it compromise.People in relationships – even great ones – are not getting what they want every day, or even most of the time. Life is just not like that. This is why,when it comes to dating, I suggest you stop looking for what you want and start thinking in terms of what you need. (This is, by definition, is a much shorter list than what you want.) What you need is based on your deepest desires as a person. Maybe you moved around a lot as a child, so what you need is security.Or maybe you had an angry parent, so what you need is kindness. In any case,your actual needs are likely to be intangible qualities that a partner has in their character, not stuff like being tall, dark, or having a great job. Which brings us last but not least to:
5. You’re Crazy-Busy. I get it. You have a job, friends, family and ten-hundred new episodes of "HouseHunters International" clogging up your DVR. But so do people in relationships!I mean, the President of the United States is busy, right? And he manages to have a pretty kick-ass marriage. Which is why I feel like “crazy-busy” is an excuse, not a reason. Saying you’re too busy to love and be loved is like saying you’re too busy to eat—sure, it might be true for a day or two, but at a certain point you have to admit that if you keep going the way you’re going,you’re going to miss out on the whole point of life! I’d also say that if you’re too busy for love, you might need to reevaluate what you’re spending all your time on! Because the truth is that love will always expand your life, not contract it.
Tracy McMillan is the author of Why You're Not Married Yet. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.She recently gave a TedTalk called, Why You Should Marry Yourself, about the vows we should make to ourselves.