You May Be Single Because Of This Self-Esteem Issue, According To Research

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Woman sitting on a dock and enjoying herself

If you’re still single, it might not be because you’re not meeting the right people. It might be because you can’t actually tell that you’re meeting the right people since you’re so focused on yourself and how awesome you think you are. At least, according to psychologists, that is.

Jean Twenge, Ph.D., wrote a book called Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before. Twenge believes that Millennials (those of us born between 1982 and 1999) grew up to be more self-reliant than any other generation, thanks in part to the “self-esteem movement.”

You're single because your self-esteem is crazy-high, says research

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But wait, you might think, having overflowing amounts of self-esteem sounds awesome. But this isn’t as great as it initially sounds.

It seems that Millennials are finding it harder to date and be with other people and spend more time being single because we were raised to rely more on ourselves and are, essentially, exceptionally good at being alone with only our own thoughts.

As a result, Millennials ended up with far more individual skills than relational skills, which means that connecting and relying on other people is actually difficult — because we’re so used to relying on ourselves.

While this might have something to do with the prolific rise of “latch-key kids” in the '80s into the late '90s, it has more to do with self-esteem than just being okay with “being alone.”

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Why? Because Millennials were taught that self-love and acceptance was the most important thing in their lives. That they shouldn’t care about what anyone else thought, and should only seek fulfillment in doing what made them happy.

Being satisfied with yourself is great, but it has an unforeseeable dark side: If you don’t have any reason to take someone else’s needs, wants, or concerns into consideration, you won’t.

So being self-confident and overly self-loving actually created a huge problem for people looking to date as adults. So many people advocate for loving yourself first and foremost and relying on your own skills so that you can have a rich life on your own. But according to Twenge and other psychologists, many Millennials totally overshot the “good” boundary of self-love and kept going, far beyond what was necessary.

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Because many young people are so independent in their opinions now, it makes it hard to reach out for personal reasons, which makes connecting to another person that much more difficult. This, according to Caitlin Cantor of Psychology Today, is creating an “army of one” mentality that negatively affects relationships as a result.

For this reason, Millennials, more so than other generations before us, struggle in areas of “closeness, connection, vulnerability, and intimacy” since those are relational skills that many people in those age ranges never learned thanks to their proto-focus of self and loving themselves and their opinion of their actions.

So yes, apparently there is such a thing as having too much self-esteem.

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Merethe Najjar is a professional writer, editor, and award-winning fiction author. Her articles have been featured in The Aviator Magazine, Infinite Press, Yahoo, BRIDES, and more.