You're probably the one to blame.
We hit a point in life, characteristically by 28 or 29, where we look everywhere and feel like we're the only single people left on Earth. Undoubtedly, some people are single because they elect to be; they're simply not concerned with being in a serious relationship at this period in their life.
Some are single due to situations in their lives. They may have just moved out of a meaningful relationship or have dated persistently and just haven't found somebody with whom they're truly well-matched.
The point of this article isn't to generalize or put someone in a box. Nevertheless, for those looking for answers to “Why am I still single?” here are some thoughts worth considering:
1. You're too guarded.
Most people have been hurt in relationships. With every painful experience, we risk building up degrees of anger, hatred and overprotecting ourselves. This progression begins long before we start dating: in our childhoods, when hurtful influences and dynamics lead us to put up walls or observe the world through a filter that can damage us as grown-ups.
In mature relationships, we may struggle with being too defenseless or we remove people too easily.
If, for instance, you were raised by parents or caretakers who were inattentive or cold, you may grow up doubting the affection of others. You may feel mistrustful of people who show "too much" interest in you, and in its place you seek out unhealthy relationships that resemble those from your post. You may then select a partner who is reserved or distant.
It isn't always easy to recognize when we have our guard up, and as a result we tend to blame our singleness on exterior forces rather than acknowledging we aren't as open as we think.
2. You repeat bad relationship habits.
Why do we do this? The reasons are complex and often based in our own implanted fears of intimacy. Many people have an unconscious motivation to seek out relationships that replay negative aspects of their upbringings.
Our fears of our inability to be loved may trigger self-attacking thoughts like, "Who do you think you are?" or "You're not that great" or "You are not the one."
These fears may cause us to hold on to relationships that have no potential, or to feel attracted to people who aren't really available because they reinforce our critical image of ourselves, which feels more comfortable and familiar, albeit painful.
3. You dread getting close to anyone.
Most of us confess that we want to find a loving partner, but the understanding of real love disturbs fantasies of love that have served as a survival mechanism since early childhood.
Our doubts surrounding intimacy may manifest as anxieties over someone "liking us too much," an illogical reason not to date a person. Or we may penalize the other person by being critical, even engaging in a nasty behaviors, fundamentally making sure we don't get the loving responses we say we want.
The reality is, most people can only tolerate a certain amount of closeness. We get defensive about letting someone else in. In effect, on a deeper level, we don't necessarily want the love we claim we want.
4. You're extra-judgmental.
This is mostly true after we've had bad experiences where we were two-timed or rejected a person for whom we had strong feelings. "There are no decent men out there" or "All the good ones are taken." "You can't trust a woman" or "Women are all out to take benefit of you." Sound familiar?
We may have unrealistic expectations for a partner or find ridiculous weaknesses that aren't really weaknesses. When assessing your partner with an overly-critical POV, we tend to write-off partners before even giving them a chance. We think of dating certain individuals as "settling" without seeing how that person could actually make us content in the long-term.
When you think you're settling for somebody, you may not be settling at all.
5. You have low self-esteem.
Many people believe they want a satisfying relationship more than anything else, but also believe even more resolutely that no sensible person would be interested in them.
We all have critical internal voices that tell us we are too overweight, unpleasant, or old. When we listen to these voices, we engage in behaviors that shove people away, and our lack of self-assurance gives off signals of not being open and forthcoming.
Many people even have trouble leaving the house when they're really down on themselves, let alone motivating themselves to go out to places where they're likely to meet a partner. Some struggle to make eye contact or are reluctant to scan the room for who they might be interested in because their sense of self is in the gutter.
6. You don't feel like competing.
A lack of self-esteem often leads to doubts of competing for someone's attention. We may be afraid of looking like a fool or of not being selected. We may even have fears about winning the rivalry, thinking about the reality of a relationship if we actually win.
The truth is, dating is competitive. It is scary to take a chance and go for what we want, but when we do, we often find that it's worth it to face our fears because we end up with a stronger sense of self-esteem and we increase our chances of creating a relationship with the type of partner we actually want.
7. You enjoy your alone time and your monotonous routine way too much.
As we age, we retreat further into what makes us comfortable. After a long day's work, many of us may feel more like putting on pajamas and crawling into bed than going out into the world and meeting people.
Our inner voice says, "Just stay in tonight and relax. You're fine on your own. Have a glass of wine. Watch that show you like." The problem with this voice is that it later turns on you with thoughts like, "What a loser you are, home alone yet again. You'll be secluded the rest of your life. You're not getting any younger! No one will be attracted to you."
Many of the activities we use to "comfort" ourselves actually make us feel bad in the end because they cause us to avoid real life. Resist falling into comfort zone. Frequently challenge your critical inner voice. Let friends know you're looking for somebody. We must try new activities and even try dating various people that don't necessarily fall into your type.
8. You adhere to fixed "rules" and listen to other people's directions when dating.
What looks good on paper doesn't always work in real life.
A woman I know once dated someone with whom she had an amazing chemistry. When it didn't work out, she decided to stop looking for guys with whom she felt an instant an connection or attraction. Instead, she made less chemistry-fueled decisions and, as a result, ended up in less satisfying relationships.
Staying open is one of the most important things we can do when looking for a loving partner. Yes, we might get hurt, but when we stop taking risks, we reduce our chances of meeting someone we could have a promising future with.
Relationship "rules" go hand-in-hand with playing games: They both cause us to act with less honesty and genuineness, and result in us being closed off. We can't shield ourselves from the world or keep ourselves from getting hurt. We all fail but it's these failures that result in achieving closeness with one another.
Rafi Chowdhury is the founder of Chowdhury’s Digital and co-founder of myCampusHacks. He was recognized by the University of Memphis for creating one of the most innovative start-up websites for the students, While The Hans India considers his blog posts to be “incredible”. In his free time, Rafi is an advisor to the British Young Asian Entrepreneurs.
This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.