Whenever she goes to a party or event, Mona is thinking, "Will I meet someone?" Her lack of a partner has come to dominate her existence.
"I think I'm terrified of rejection. Somebody comes to the door. We go out. I like him. He never calls again. I don't know how many more of those I can do," she said.
Mona feels she needs a relationship to be okay. It roams her psyche like a life-or-death proposition.
Feeling in survival as Mona does often stems from a lack of self-acceptance. While most of us want a relationship, when you accept yourself with or without a partner, you are more likely to find a healthy relationship and have fun in the search.
3. A scarcity mindset. Beth, 27, a middle-school teacher, asks, "Where are all the good men hiding?" She's tried singles events, Meetup hikes, and speed dating and found "there were always twice as many women as men." As for online dating, she said, "Nobody is who they say they are. Everybody seems to have a fatal flaw."
Beth fears there are no good men available. Yet a scarcity mindset can become self-fulfilling. Believing all the good ones are taken, we either overlook opportunities or are quick to find flaws.
Taken together, the survival and scarcity mindsets effectively block finding love. Feeling not okay without a partner but that all the good ones are taken can leave you desperate, cynical and helpless. Yet both mindsets are untrue. You may want a partner but you don't need one to survive. Plus, there are more single people than ever before and more ways to meet them than ever. In many ways, finding the love of your life has never been easier. But with more choices than ever, you have to be better at making choices.
4. Ignoring your intuition. Katie, 32, a screenwriter, can tally the times she hasn't followed her intuition. There was the guy she met three years ago through friends. They had lots in common, though early on he said he wasn't much of a gift-giver. In time she came to see that was code for being stingy and withholding.
Then there was the man who announced early on that he was not interested in marriage. Katie wanted marriage and hopefully kids but fell in love with him anyway. "I thought he'd change his mind if he fell in love with me or I would not care eventually if the relationship was good enough," she said.
In my 20 years as a marriage counselor, I can't tell you how many people have told me that they walked down the aisle on their wedding day knowing it was a mistake. None of those relationships lasted. Most were a prescription for misery. Your intuition is priceless.
5. Pursuing the unavailable. Josh, a 42-year-old consultant, is vibrant, witty and carries a handsome touch of gray at his temples. He's had several relationships, including a five-year marriage. Josh has never been the one to end a relationship; he has always been left.
Like at 13 when his first girlfriend, after six months together, told him in the middle of a class that she was breaking up. Or a college sweetheart who, after four years together, took a trip and came home to announce she needed her space. Within a month she moved in with someone else. Or his wife, who took a European trip and came home with tales of meeting a Danish lifeguard, whom she married shortly after divorcing Josh.
He calls these about-faces the "pancake flip," which he describes as: "They love you and then all of a sudden they don't. It's like losing car keys. They're like, 'I know I had some feelings for you here somewhere but I just can't seem to find them.' And I'm like, 'Let's find the keys.' And they're like, 'You know what, I'll just get another car.'"
Josh recognizes he has so far been drawn to unavailable, or at least ambivalent, women. Perhaps it's a way to hedge bets. If true intimacy is frightening, it can be easier to love an unavailable person with abandon because you will never have to deliver on the reciprocity of real love.
6. Settling. Miriam, 35, a medical technician, has been seeing a man 16 years her senior whom she doesn't love. Miriam loves to travel but he shuns it. She loves to dance but he refuses.
"I keep planning the day that I'm going to break it off but I never do it because I feel so guilty," she said. "Maybe I feel bad because he's so nice and he's never done anything wrong. But he's not for me. We don't really have anything in common."
Why does Miriam stay with a man she doesn't love? She is settling for companionship. She doesn't want her current relationship but doesn't want to be alone. She's unlikely to find someone new while still attached but has yet to move on. She tells herself it is better than nothing.
Like Miriam, you deserve more than someone who is 'better than nothing.' Don't settle.