You’ve been single for so long. How long is long? Long enough for you to feel that you’ve. been. single. for. so. long.
My friend Melissa has been single for over ten years. And every time we see each other, she tells me stories of her dating woes. She often says, “I’m so tired of this drama! I want to meet someone.”
I listen to her stories intently. Yet, in the back of my mind, I think, “No, you don’t want a relationship. If you did, you’d be attracting relationship-ready men. You wouldn’t engage with men that have signs on their heads that say, “Mr. Unavailable. I’m right here!”
Some people will read this and yell at their screens, “WHAT?!? That’s ridiculous!! I’ve been looking for someone for so long! I never seem to meet the right people!”
But here’s the twist – do you believe in the law of attraction? I do. So I believe that like attracts like. If you agree with the law of attraction, it’s harder but helpful to take a look in the mirror to see what’s going on with your dating game. Are you just an unlucky person? Or is there a part of you that either A) likes to be single, B) has set the bar so high that you’re sending a signal to the universe that you aren’t serious about meeting someone, or C) secretly avoiding a relationship because you’re terrified of getting hurt (again)?
My story (hint: single for so long) might sound familiar to some of you:
I know about this topic because I speak from experience. I was “single” for many years. Looking back now, I can see that I wasn’t ready to attract a partner. I would’ve saved myself a lot of time if I’d just known that and stopped beating myself up for not meeting the right person sooner. Still, I continued to keep dating. What was driving this? I guess the best answer is probably loneliness.
Throughout my dating years, I found one thing in common with everyone I dated. The men (there’s the law of attraction thing again!) weren’t available either. The relationships were doomed from the get-go. It’s not that they didn’t serve their purpose, because I believe they did. They weren’t going to last because I wasn’t truly ready to dive in.
If you’ve been single for so long and are serious about finding a partner, here are some thoughts to consider when you question your readiness:
Are you willing to shift your mindset from me to us?
This requires a growth mindset. In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck says, “In the growth mindset, there may still be that exciting initial combustion, but people in this mindset don’t expect magic. They believe that a good, lasting relationship comes from effort and from working through inevitable differences.”
Jonathon Adrian of Medium says (of Dweck’s work), “They discover flaws and sometimes struggle along the way, but together they learn how to deal with differences and find mutual solutions, allowing both partners to grow and the relationship to deepen. In this healthy relationship dynamic, an atmosphere of trust is developed, and they become vitally interested in each other’s development.”
Embracing a growth mindset, in general, might help prepare for a partner. Being already there, in a position of willing to do the hard work on yourself, is vital. The relationship won’t live up to every expectation you have on the surface. Instead, your mental and emotional states can be open to experiencing the challenges, growth, and excitement that come with the territory.
Can you accept someone as they are – including all aspects of their life before you?
I’m embarrassed to say I was one of those people who were guilty of judging people I dated for different aspects of their past. I sometimes even used them as excuses to get out of the relationship. But to embrace an intimate, loving relationship, you need to accept a person in total.
In Alicia Keys’ book More Myself, she says:
“Our family has become the definition of a successful blend. When you love someone, you love their journey—and that path leads you to the family dynamic you were meant to inherit and devote yourself to. Through my own childhood experience, I know how often we’re taught what a family should look like. And if your family doesn’t look like what we’ve been shown, we somehow feel incomplete. But really, families come in all versions, shapes, and sizes and should be celebrated as part of our collective experience. That is what life has taught me.”
Loving, accepting, and honoring a person’s journey is real love.
Are you willing to do some hard work?
There are so many defense mechanisms in place that probably kept you single for a long time. When suddenly you find yourself in the arms of a real relationship, those triggers become exposed.
You have to be willing to move forward in the partnership anyway. It’s scary, and sometimes you may want to run the other way. But healing occurs in community and communion.
“Healing is embracing what is most feared; healing is opening what has been closed, softening what has hardened into an obstruction, healing is learning to trust life.” – Jeanne Achterberg.
Are you willing to open your heart and let someone love you?
“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.” -Brené Brown.
After painful breakups, it’s not only hard to do this; it’s incredibly fierce!
Instead, you need to know that you deserve love, that you trust the universe to guide you. You have to let go. Let go of your walls, let go of your plans, let go of your single-focused idea of exactly what your life should be. Hand it over. Let the bigger picture unfold.
Not everyone wants a relationship. I guess some people may be happier alone. But be honest with yourself.
And when you do feel called to move forward and know that it’s finally time to love someone, that’s exactly what you’ll do.