Author’s note: This is an uncomfortable piece to write. And it may be an uncomfortable read too. I’ve read a lot of articles here and elsewhere around the web celebrating the reasons why single women are still single, particularly highlighting the refusal to settle for less. And I’m not fully convinced.
I question the benefit of telling ourselves that we’re single because we hold ourselves in uber-high esteem and won’t settle for less.
Ten years ago I would have told myself and others that kind of story. And if anyone had suggested I was lying to myself, it would have triggered an angry response.
But 10 years on, with a great deal of self-exploration, I’ve come to acknowledge more uncomfortable truths.
I absolutely agree that many of us chronically single women are undeniably strong and independent (I still identify as one). But I also believe that we have more inner work to do—and that is the true reason why we’re still single.
“Strong Independent Woman Syndrome” does not always preclude shaky self-worth, weak boundaries or the propensity to kid ourselves about the true potential of a particular connection.
“Strong Independent Woman Syndrome,” in my opinion, characterizes women who are independent and who are strong because they are used to being alone and doing things for themselves.
But it does not automatically mean that they are content to be alone.
Projecting that illusion, however, is a common defense among strong, independent women who despise the idea of being pitied or judged for their singleness. Of course, some women are single because their self-worth is rock-solid and they truly won’t settle for less. But I suspect it is, more frequently than not, not as true so much as we wish it were so.
The fuller truth is—in my opinion—a bit more unpalatable for us to swallow. But if we feed ourselves these pat-on-the-back-we’re-doing-great narratives, then we’ll never break out of our limiting patterns.
Of course, I do acknowledge that each of us has a different truth.
Having said that, I also believe that the reasons we’re still single are all to do with us and not about the availability—or lack of—suitable partners who are worthy of our greatness.
There are many amazing, deserving people of both genders out there who are still single and searching for love. And we can bump into our future life partner at any time. I don’t believe the reason it’s not happening for us lies outside of our control.
This is what I believe:
If we are single for a long time, attracting only short-term relationships that never work out (or no relationships at all), then we are blocked from attracting a long-term relationship.
It is not because we are not young enough, attractive enough, smart enough, rich enough or anything-thing-else-enough (although we may carry a belief along those lines). It is because we have erected some sort of energetic block at some level of our being.
The block can come in many forms, but when we truly embody our own worth, know what we want and accept nothing less, then if we want a long-term relationship we will have it.
The block may be that—we don’t really want it.
We think we do, on a conscious level. We may even yearn for it. But deep down, we may have become so comfortable in our independent grooves that we don’t really want to sacrifice the benefits of singledom—of which there are many—for the benefits of relationship.
The block may be that—our self-worth is not as robust as we’d like it to be, or even as we profess it to be.
If we find ourselves repeatedly engaging in relationships with people unable or unwilling to give us what we want (and deserve), then we still have some work to do on our self-worth. Otherwise we would simply decline the opportunity and patiently wait for a better one to arrive.
I’m not suggesting that all long-term singletons have low self-worth. I am saying, however, that it isn’t helpful to deny this, if it is the case. The first step toward remedying the problem is to gently acknowledge it.
The block may be (for heterosexuals) that—we carry deeply-held resentments toward the opposite sex.
These may have formed through childhood conditioning or through our own painful experiences. And the real trouble is, we may not be fully aware of the fact. We may believe that because we like men (or women) and we long to share our lives with one special man (or woman) that this obstacle does not apply to us.
Do not be fooled by your desires.
Instead, explore the possibility that, at a deeper subconscious level, you may have a great deal of anger, fear or resentment toward the opposite gender that needs to be released. When we identify that, we can slowly begin the process of healing it.
The block may be that—we’re scared sh*tless.
We have been hurt in the past and have trust issues. Although we want to share our lives with another, we’re terrified of letting someone in who may hurt or reject us. And so, we unconsciously close ourselves off from opportunities to connect deeply with a potential partner.
The block may be that—we have unrealistic expectations.
Our expectations around how the other should behave, what kind of feelings we should be experiencing, how easy things should be, how frustrating or difficult things should not be—all of our ideas around how things should be or shouldn’t be can short-circuit our willingness to stick it out and grow ourselves and the relationship into its greater potential.
The block may be that—we see ourselves and our lives as incomplete without a partner.
While we may resent others for judging us for being single, we may actually also be judging ourselves. We may feel incomplete on our own and be seeking another to fill a perceived void. We may want a relationship so desperately that we repel it.
The block may be—any number of other issues.
We each need to examine and identify our own experiences and patterns in order to identify where we might be getting in our own way.
If we desire a long-term partnership but instead find ourselves single for a long time, or consistently attracting short-term relationships that crash and burn, then we need to look for the common threads: ourselves and our patterns of engaging with lovers or potential lovers.
I’ve come to accept that I’ve been blocking the way for love to blossom in my life, in ways that I wasn’t even conscious of. And now I’m seeking to release the blocks so that when future opportunities for love arise, I can look them in the eye and choose not to allow them to sabotage a relationship.
I don’t expect it to be easy. But I also don’t buy that any relationship worth its salt is easy.
Relationships are the most fertile ground for self-growth and that requires us to move out of our comfort zones regularly. In the past, I’ve been too scared to take on something that had no guarantee of working out after all the hard work that would have gone into it.
But I’m becoming more and more willing to take the risk.
While strong self-worth is key to choosing a partner who is a good match for us, I believe the willingness to risk our hearts, and to look our own issues in the eye and do whatever work they bring up, are the ultimate keys to resolving our long-term singleness.
Author: Hilda Carroll
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Jordan Sanchez/ Unsplash