This isn’t a question about you, not really. It’s a question you have to ask yourself about your date, if you’re single and meeting someone new.
The thing about dating is that it involves the way people act. Being in a relationship isn’t about how attractive someone is, what kind of job they have, how funny they are, or how impressive their dating profile is. It’s about how they treat you, how you treat them, how you communicate together. Romance is about behavior.
Why is someone single? This isn’t really a question for young people, but it becomes more salient as time goes by.
Too busy. There are genuinely times in life when someone doesn’t have time for romance. Grad school, starting a business, caring for a terminally ill relative, preparing to relocate… Sometimes it’s just situational. Other times, this person just doesn’t put as high a priority on having a romantic partner, and maybe never will. Even if you’re married.
On the rebound. Post-breakup, people are vulnerable. The usual choice is to fall madly for someone who is the diametric opposite of the recent ex. That’s where my first marriage came from…
Not emotionally available. Never got over their ex, has a crush on someone else, questioning their sexuality, recovering from trauma, just wanting to be single for the foreseeable future.
Impossible standards. This person may have considered and rejected several people because no human being who ever existed would pass that bar. That’s going to include you. Nothing personal.
Bad habits. This person may just be really annoying to live with. Someone who is a bad roommate is never going to make a good mate.
Sadistic. Oh ho ho, they’re out there. Someone with something to hide is going to be good at hiding it. I’m guessing that about 1% of the population genuinely enjoys hurting others, physically, emotionally, or in any other way they can. It’s a power trip.
Not the monogamous kind. There are a lot of perfectly lovely people who are not emotionally aligned in a way that includes settling down with one person for the long term. It’s totally fine to be among them, as long as everyone involved tells the truth. You can’t fake monogamy, not for long anyway.
Low emotional intelligence. Oblivious, inconsiderate, and so out of touch that they’re never really going to change. A low EQ person might still function in society, because some careers tolerate this. You can still be physically fit and have a comfortable material infrastructure while also being unable to connect well with others.
Narcissistic. To be distinguished from sadism. A sadist will hurt you for lulz, but narcissists will hurt you as revenge for wounding their ego.
Jealous. A jealous, possessive person will never be satisfied. They don't realize that their very jealousy and desire for control tends to create the conditions that will drive a formerly faithful person to cheat. “She cheated on me” is a great cover story for being single, but sometimes there’s a little more to it.
Irresponsible. As with people who refuse to learn to cook, there are a lot of people who expect that someone else is always going to be there to bail them out. For instance, the person who is moving but hasn’t packed a single box by moving day. The irresponsible person is always going to blow you off, forget your birthday, forget your anniversary, abdicate, fail to follow through, and forget the most important item on the shopping list.
Broke. I’ve met people of every age, through their eighties, who have never bothered to make a financial plan of any kind. The older we get, the harder it is to fall in love with reckless abandon - that’s just true - and especially when we wonder whether we’d be marrying this person’s debt, poor credit, and lack of retirement savings. Take whatever you have saved and mentally divide it in half. Does it work?
Selfish. Sometimes people just get it into their heads that they can be takers and expect the world to wait on them. A surprising number of people refuse to learn to cook, do housework, pick up after themselves, or carry their own weight in general. The weird thing is how often they get away with it.
The trouble is, deeply flawed people can still be really cute and charming. Everyone has flaws, in fact I’d say that everyone has at least one major flaw (I sure do), but there are flaws you can live with and flaws you can’t. I mean, flaws that you in particular can live with. It’s about the crazy you can put up with. Ideally, you’ll figure out what that is in advance, before you fall for somebody.
So much of love is chemical. You get hooked on someone’s scent, on the kiss and the touch, and then there’s no hope for you. Ask the necessary questions before you get close enough to smell their neck. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that you’ve caught this amazing person during the blip in time that you’re both free. You’re so great that you’re only single because nobody else has snapped you up yet.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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