I was reading an article the other day about how 51% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 do not have a steady romantic partner. This is up from 45% since 2016 and the trend continues to rise. There is no sign this pattern will be reversing any time soon.
In this period of technology and online dating, it is hard to pin down why this is a growing concern for young people. This problem is not limited to the young, it is rampant among all ages, including for sexagenarians like me. No matter the generation, there appears to be one common theme at play in all of this, now more than ever, there seem to be a lot more people out there who are unhappy with their lives and have yet to find themselves. it is impossible to be seen as an attractive romantic prospect when you are out of alignment with yourself.
Living the single life
It is easy to feel lonely when you are single and most of the people in your age group are married or living with a steady partner. It is also easy to quit trying when your search for a partner fizzle out. Yet, although the percentage of people living without a partner keeps going up, so too has the desire to find a romantic partner. This last part makes sense, for I think humans intuitively know love relationships provide the best opportunity for us to evolve. So, what is the disconnect?
People are pickier about finding a partner. This has to do with the great accessibility to possible mates online dating provides. This can be deceptive because it can fool you into thinking there are zillions of people available to date. Such accessibility can make a person addicted to a never-ending search for a better partner than the one they found. This is why it is not unusual for people to let go of a promising start with a new love interest in search of another.
I lost count of how many times, after several dates, I presumed I was connecting with a prospective woman when, suddenly, they vanished. No more phone calls or texts. After a few attempts to reconnect went unanswered, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out they had moved on. Many refer to this practice of disappearing as getting “ghosted” and it is discouraging. It leaves you wondering what the f–k happened.
Whether you are eighteen or sixty, these experiences can leave you filled with self-doubt and believing something is wrong with you. A series of failed attempts like this can discourage you from further efforts.
The good news in all of this is that you are causing your singleness which means you can change your situation.
Changing your self
For the sake of transparency, I deal with this subject in my second book, Catch and Release–One Man’s Improbable Search for True Love and the Meaning of Life. I am also still single since my divorce four and one-half years ago. At the moment, I have no prospective girlfriends, so you may think my advice is hypothetical (a hypothesis is a proposition that attempts to explain a set of facts in a unified way but doesn’t prove them). But I have had many at-bats. Although I cannot prove by my marital standing that my method will work, I am sure following this advice will increase your chances. Here are my steps.
1) Find and establish yourself. Many of us go through life not knowing ourselves. We are like a hamster in a running wheel spending most of our time repeating things we don’t enjoy. Many of us disguise our distance from our true selves with some addictive behavior. Others resign ourselves to a life of mediocrity.
If you don’t have passion and joy in your life, you are simply a breathing cadaver. Who wants to be partners with someone like that? No one. It may be hard to change every aspect of your life at once, for it takes time to change things so that you are aligned with your heart’s desires. But you can start today by taking up something new. Stop binge watching crap or killing hours on social media and change your patterns. Take up a new hobby. Get out where there are people. Open yourself up to new experiences. This is what your soul needs to rekindle joy and passion in your life. Living this kind of life will make you more attractive.
2) Live a happy life. I know, you think your life sucks and there is nothing you can do about it, but that is not so. You can change things by being grateful for what you have exactly as it is. Gratitude is a key ingredient of happiness. Fifty-seven years ago, I was crying myself to sleep in an orphanage where bullies beat me up daily and where I wondered what the future held for me. If someone had told me, “don’t worry, someday you will have a wonderful career and live in a nice home in Sarasota Bay”, I would not have believed them. But here I am, I may be without a partner, but I am infinitely blessed compared to those wretched times long ago.
You have plenty to be grateful for, but you need to turn your attention from the negative things and start celebrating the positive ones. I know, you heard this before about looking at the glass half full versus half empty, but it works. Once you see the blessings in your life, your life does not seem so bad. Aligning yourself with the positive things that make you happy will change the energy you emit to others and it will help you become more appealing to others.
3) Learn to love yourself. If you don’t know how to love yourself, no one else will do it for you. The first step you can take in this direction is to stop believing the internal voices that say you are unworthy or unlovable. These voices are not telling the truth. Remember, you are not an accident; a Higher Power deliberately created you. You have a purpose the world needs.
The other thing you can do is to stop comparing with others. Frankly, we all do this and it is so stupid. We don’t live inside another’s skin. Even when they seem successful and happy, they may be miserable inside. Remember that you are the hero of your own story. Take your voyage with courage and self-value and others will notice.
4) If you fear being alone, you will settle. The worst thing humans can do is to settle for fear we cannot do better, but we do it all the time. I remember a time when I bought a new car I didn’t really want. My kids were adults, and I didn’t need a big car anymore. It was time for the sporty convertible I always wanted, but I convinced myself to be practical. I figured there would be days when I would need to give rides to others, or when I might need to haul something for the house, so I bought another SUV.
I regretted that purchase for the entire time I owned that car. My justification for it never materialized, I used it to give rides a handful of times and the only thing I hauled was groceries. Thank God the day came when I replaced it with the sporty convertible I desired. I enjoy my sporty car to this day, but I realize I needlessly delayed fulfilling my true desire by ten years for having settled.
If you are dating someone now you feel lukewarm about, but think you better hang on to them because you might not be able to find someone better, then you are settling. This will only lead you to misery. Do you both a favor and let them go.
My relationship experiences have taught me it is better to be alone than to be with the wrong partner, so it is good to be picky and not settle. I know many long-time married couples who live far more miserable lives with one another than any single person I know.
There is no reason to think having a partner is better than being single. Stop forcing it. Enjoy your single life, be happy, interesting, grateful and full of passion and the right person will notice.
As always, wishing you a life filled with joy, love, and serenity.
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
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