The real reason you’re still single

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“I just haven’t met you yet” was my favourite line throughout my single years, even before Michael Bublé’s hit. The idea that there was a man out there whom I was yet to encounter – a man who’d tick all my boxes and sweep me off my feet – was a comforting one.

 

With the benefit of hindsight, I see it was a convenient excuse, a cover for my avoidance. If I simply hadn’t met my guy yet, I could keep blaming all the men I dated for being emotionally unavailable or afraid of commitment, rather than look at myself. And I could postpone the tough personal growth work I needed to do in order to face my own fear of falling in love.

 

I should point out that many of the men I dated were emotionally unavailable or afraid of commitment, so they weren’t completely innocent. But the key here is that I was the common denominator in all my failed relationships. I picked those men, or my subconscious did, because I was terrified of being in an intimate relationship too. A commitment-phobe was my dream partner – we could remain at arm’s length and I could stay “safe” from hurt and loss.

 

I feared being suffocated in relationships too. I hated the idea of being depended on or of relying on anyone else.

Thankfully, I got so sick and tired of repeating the same mistakes and banging my head against the same brick wall in relationships that I did something about it. I got support from a relationships expert and began my healing journey. I came to understand that because of my childhood circumstances (involving emotionally unavailable parents who divorced when I was young), I emerged into adulthood with a massive craving for love and attachment – a hole inside that I was desperate to fill – yet with a huge fear of intimacy, because I believed love would lead to pain.

 

I feared being suffocated in relationships too. I hated the idea of being depended on or of relying on anyone else. Fiercely independent, Simon and Garfunkel’s “I am a rock” was my mantra. My faulty belief system crumbled as I healed my early wounds and at 43, I managed to commit to a man, marrying him five years later at 48. Along the way, I felt inspired to document my journey in a book called ‘How to Fall in Love’ and to coach others to find healthy partnerships.

 

Many of my coaching clients are unaware of their deep fears around commitment, as I was. They can’t understand why their relationships never work out. That’s where I come in – I’m able to see the signs and show them a way through. Here are a few signs that might indicate you are afraid of love:

 

• You keep falling for commitment-phobes or emotionally unavailable types

• You fall for people who live miles away or on different continents, who are already attached, in a messy situation with an ex, or addicted to religion, alcohol, drugs, their work or something else

• You push people away then pull them in then push them away again

• You view healthy, emotionally available people as “boring” or “too nice”

• You dismiss potential partners based on their level of education or career or question their suitability because of their choice of suits or shoes

• You pick holes in potential mates, judging them for superficial things such as the way they eat or speak or the straightness of their teeth

• You dismiss people on the basis they may not get on with your friends or mix well in your social circles, without ever putting this to the test

 

If this resonates, what next? Talk about the fact that you may be afraid of commitment. Hear yourself describing your patterns and repeated behaviours. It may help to write things down, to explore past relationships on paper and draw connections. As you do this, remember to accept yourself. You did the best you could with the tools and knowledge you had at the time.

 

Then, if you are ready to change, get some expert help to explore how your early wounds play out in your relationships so you can challenge your patterns and date successfully. This is the work I do with clients and it’s the work I did myself. My biggest regret: that I didn’t start my healing journey sooner. When it came to romance, I used to say I was a “hopeless case”. Now I see there’s no such thing. My own experience and my clients’ journeys have taught me that.

 

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