If you’re single it’s likely that you spend a great deal of time, not only thinking about finding a partner, but also actively looking for a partner. You might go out to clubs or bars hoping to make connections, or just browse through profiles on a dating site. And then there’s all those dates, many of which turn out to be a big disappointment and a complete waste of time and money. In fact, I wonder how much time and energy, overall, we waste searching for that special someone.
What I hear a lot from single people is how difficult it is to find the right person, and how disappointing the search can be. In fact, that disappointment seems to spill over into everyday life, showing up as loneliness and even depression, which doesn’t merely affect our mood. It affects every facet of our life. And I keep hearing the same question over and over again. “What am I doing wrong?”
There’s a lot of dating experts out there who offer advice on any number of areas; how to be more attractive, how to work on your approach and conversation skills, and so on. But often they seem to overlook what I consider to be the single biggest mistake that single people make.
The single biggest mistake that single people make is spending your time searching for a partner instead of utilizing that time to work on yourself, to develop your skills and talents, to cultivate and strengthen your most valuable qualities and characteristics, building confidence and learning to be emotionally independent.
We spend so much time and energy resisting being single instead of embracing it, and this the first thing we need to look at. Why is there so much resistance to being alone? What is it about being alone that we find so deeply uncomfortable? And I’m not suggesting that there’s anything wrong with having a partner. But why do we seem to think that there’s anything wrong with being single?
Many of the ideas we have about relationships are actually quite unhealthy. For instance, we often believe that someone else will make us happy or feel complete. The reality is that no one else can do that for us, nor is it anyone else’s responsibility. And when we do put that responsibility on others, we wind up disappointed and resentful. This is actually why so many relationships fail.
So we need to examine the reasons why we desire a relationship, and consider whether our expectations are fair and reasonable. It’s one thing to appreciate companionship, but it’s something altogether different to think that someone else is going to change the way we feel about ourselves or add value to the quality of our lives.
Being single offers us the opportunity to explore these things, to learn to cultivate a sense of happiness and contentment independent of anyone else. For all we know, one of the reasons we haven’t been successful in dating might be that other people pick up on the fact that we’re not genuinely happy and that we’re expecting someone else to fix it, and that can be a huge turn off.
What people find attractive isn’t usually what we think. We tend to believe that attractiveness is all about appearances; how we look, how we dress, what’s in our bank account and so on. But overall, what people find most attractive are things like confidence and independence.
The opposite of these are insecurity and neediness. And when we’re desperate to find a partner, these are the characteristics we’re expressing. We may not even realize it. Or we might think we’re doing well to hide it. But insecurity has a way of showing itself, sometimes very subtly. And other people are very good at picking up on that.
Being single and learning to embrace it can offer us the opportunity to examine our insecurities and to work toward being more confident and self-sufficient. When I say self-sufficient, I mean learning to satisfy your primary emotional needs; your need to be happy, to feel valued and validated, and so on.
This also means learning to be more independent in your activities, focusing your time and energy on doing things which you find fulfilling. What inspires you? What do you feel passionate about? And how can you give more time to developing and expressing your skills and talents?
We’re always searching for someone to share in our experiences, and oftentimes we neglect those things we most enjoy simply because we have no one to enjoy them with. It’s fun to have someone to share experiences with, but we should be able to enjoy those experiences even when we’re alone. If we’re always waiting for the right person to show up in our lives, we may put off doing these things. Instead of going out and enjoying ourselves, we wind up staying home alone, sulking and feeling sorry for ourselves.
But what if it’s when we’re most content with doing things on our own, going out and enjoying life, pursuing our passions, expressing our creativity and the like, that we’re more likely to attract someone. And again, I’m not talking about actively seeking, or putting on a show for the purpose of trying to attract someone. I’m talking about being so engrossed in what you find enjoyable that you’re not even thinking about meeting anyone. And what you may not realize is that when others see you living from that place of genuine happiness and independence, it can be very attractive to them. You might find that there’s no need at all to approach others. When you’re radiating this kind of energy, others will be naturally drawn to you.
I’m not offering this as advice on how to attract a partner. Because as soon as you step back into that mindset you’re taking a step back from yourself. You’re back to thinking about finding someone, instead of focusing on what you need to be doing for yourself. And gradually, you begin neglecting your own needs and falling into the old pattern of trying to get other people’s attention.
What I’m talking about is coming to a place within yourself where you have no attachment to meeting someone else. Sure, there’s always that desire for companionship, and there’s nothing wrong with this so long as it doesn’t consume our thoughts and turn into desperation. What I mean is that we can still remain open to meeting someone, without the need to be with them. And whenever we do meet someone who might be a potential partner, we don’t lose sight of ourselves. We don’t allow ourselves to be distracted from what we’re doing in our lives. We stay true to that. We don’t compromise or neglect ourselves. And the attitude we cultivate toward prospective partners is one of detachment, take it or leave it. Because we don’t need that person to feel satisfied. When we learn to satisfy our own basic needs, to find contentment in ordinary life, and to find joy in expressing our passion, we already feel fulfilled. Being with someone else becomes more about sharing what we already have rather than trying to add something, trying to fill a void or get some sort of validation.
So when we meet someone, coming from that place contentment and independence, we have a tendency to see them more clearly, and to behave in a way that’s more authentic. And if it turns out that they’re not a good match for us, or they don’t think we’re a good match for them, it’s no sweat. We simply let it go, because we weren’t attached to it in the first place. And that allows us to go on with our lives, to continue to put our thought and energy into the things we need to do for ourselves.
We place so much importance on finding a partner that we tend to forget that the most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. And the more we focus on that relationship, learning to love ourselves more deeply, to cultivate a greater sense of self-worth and respect, and to find not only contentment, but also joy in being alone, the better prepared we are to connect more deeply and authentically with someone else. And with that sense of self-worth and respect, we’re also going to make better decisions in regard to who we date and how we date, because the level of respect we have for ourselves is going to be reflected by those we engage with. And anyone who doesn’t show us the same level of respect we have for ourselves, we won’t give time to. It’s only when we’re desperate to find someone that we’re willing to lower our standards, and that’s when we wind up wasting time and energy with someone who doesn’t truly value us.
So forget about trying to find someone. The best relationships happen naturally, and often very unexpectedly. In the meantime, focus on what you need to do for yourself. Focus on your passion. Allow your creativity and inspiration to be expressed. Learn about yourself. Discover what truly makes you happy. And work toward removing all the blockages that keep you from living authentically.