It’s no secret that a lot of us hate being single. (And, yes, that includes those of us surrounded at all times by a wealth of viable suitors or eye-lash-batting women.) Maybe it’s because we hate feeling vulnerable. Maybe it’s because we’re jaded about the dating pool. Or maybe it’s because we’re simply trying too hard. Whatever the case, we’ve compiled the most common reasons that singles living among us remain that way (even if we aren’t totally sure why). If any of these sound like you, don’t worry. Whenever you’re ready to start dating in earnest, know that there are more singles on the planet than ever before—and if you’re happily coupled up and would like to remain that way, here are the 20 Reasons Why Fall Shouldn’t Be an Excuse for a Relationship Cooldown.
Let’s get the most obvious reason out of the way: lots of people are single simply because they prefer it. “When you feel you don’t want to be ‘tied down’ and want to have fun and not be attached, your behaviors will support this,” explains Susan Golicic, Ph.D., a certified relationship coach and co-founder of Uninhibited Wellness.
Unless you have a change of heart, there’s no reason to do anything differently here. But sometimes just recognizing the fact that you actually like being alone can help you feel more at peace with your single status. (Plus, being single when you want to be single is flat-out awesome.)
“Dating apps have created the illusion that something—or rather someone—better will always come along at the swipe of a finger,” notes Margaux Cassuto, founder and president of Three Matches. This leaves some people unsatisfied with pretty much everyone they meet. “This dissatisfaction creates a vicious circle that can’t be broken even by the most dreamy date.”
So how do you fix it? Well, there’s nothing wrong with not liking every single person you go out with, but giving someone else you genuinely like a chance—even if they’re not the perfect vision of your ideal mate you’ve carved from your imagination—could actually result in lasting love. Don’t forget: a lot of colleagues find love only after spending weeks and months in each other’s company. 3
“Life is about compromises (not settling),” explains Stef Safran, dating expert and owner of Stef and the City. “If you have an idea that someone should be a certain height, have certain hair, or not have certain ‘baggage,’ you need to acknowledge the reality that many people don’t marry their ‘ideals,'” she says. In other words, while it’s important to know your absolute deal breakers, no one is going to meet every single desired quality on your “perfect match” list. “Spending a few dates with someone who isn’t your ideal may help you meet someone that you can fall in love with.”
If you just went through a tough breakup, the idea of dating might make you cringe. “This is a valid reason if it’s only been a few weeks or even a month or two,” says Barry Selby, author and relationship expert. “Rebound romance is mostly unsuccessful.” But he does caution that if it’s been longer than that, especially a year or more, it may be time to make an effort to heal whatever’s holding you back from dating again.
Nothing is more frustrating than dating someone who wants you to be different from who you really are. “Maybe you have been in a relationship before and found that your partner was trying to mold you into their version of the perfect mate,” says Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, founder of online relationship community, Relationup.
“Before long, your clothing changed, your hairstyle was altered, and aspects of your lifestyle were rejected. You didn’t have the ability to push back and feared losing the relationship. Right now, you’re in a place where you enjoy being who you are and how you live and don’t want to be anybody’s project.”
“You may feel you’re ready for a relationship, and you may be searching for a partner and expressing to others that you don’t want to be single, but deep inside you could still very much be not ready to be in a relationship,” says Golicic. “This is likely because of past relationship experiences that haven’t been resolved or you haven’t let go of.”
What’s more, if your mind knows you’re not ready, you may try to get into a relationship, but your behavior might actually drive people away without even trying. If this sounds familiar, Golicic recommends checking in with a therapist or relationship coach to get to the bottom of what’s holding you back.
One of the most dangerous misconceptions about love is that your ideal partner will “complete” you all on their own.
“You want this person to like the same activities and music and be able to share with them what you do with your friends,” says Safran. “It’s normal in the highs of love that you enjoy someone’s company, but it’s also normal to need other people besides your partner to ‘complete’ you. At the end of the day, you can’t get everything you need from one person, so don’t expect to derive all your support, fun, and joy from a potential partner.”
“You like being single and the freedom to determine your own schedule,” says Milrad. That’s understandable. “Maybe you value your ability to do what you want, when you want, and not having to compromise or collaborate with anyone else.” If this sounds like you, it’s probably a good idea to stay single until your feelings on this change. And if they don’t, just keep on doing you.
It may seem like all your friends have found such great partners that there must be no one else left who’s worthwhile. Or maybe every person you meet that you’re attracted to is inconveniently already coupled. According to Selby, this feeling comes from two places. First, you may subconsciously feel like the people you meet who are actually single aren’t good enough for you. Or you might be lacking in self-confidence and feel afraid of making mistakes, which leads you to reject anyone who comes your way. “Either is an error in approach,” he says, and can be fixed with keeping an open mind about the single people you meet.
“This problem comes in many forms,” says Stacy Karyn, online dating consultant. “Sometimes guys put on their ‘flirting’ game way too strongly. Sometimes women will try way too hard to look and act beautiful.” Unfortunately, going too far in one direction can sometimes have the opposite of the intended effect.
Her advice? “The most important thing to remember is to calm down a bit and be yourself.”
If you’re not sure who you are, it’s pretty tough to figure out what you’re looking for in a mate. “We cannot give what we don’t have,” notes Jennie Lynn, author and relationship expert. Before you can be in a successful relationship, “you must discover who you are, what your unique gifts are and exactly what you want.” You’ll likely find that once you’re more comfortable in your own skin, you’ll have an easier time meeting people you really like.
“Being attached is risky,” Golicic points out. If you’re the kind of person who protects their feelings, it can be difficult to open up enough to be in a relationship. But this fear of being vulnerable puts you in what Golicic calls protection mode, “where you don’t allow the other person to really see or hear you due to the armor you have on. When the other person cannot really see or hear you, they cannot really know you and therefore cannot determine if you would be a match.”
One mistake many single people who really want to be in relationships make is putting out a message that doesn’t match their true intentions. “It may sound and feel cool when you tell everyone you know that you ‘aren’t looking for anything serious right now,’ however, by saying these words out loud, you may actually begin to believe the idea yourself,” explains Karyn. “The truth is that many people act as if they want to be single in order to protect themselves. This causes a very big problem when it comes to actually finding and keeping a mate.”