So many people ask me the question, "Dr. Saira, if I am really as great as you tell me I am, then why am I still single?"
This question breaks my heart, for many reasons.
Yes, you may still be single, but that is only part of the story. If true love is what you are looking for, you will indeed find it. But there is some fine print you need to know about. If you want to be in a committed, loving, mutually beneficial, long-term partnership, you are going to have to let go of your control and perfectionism. Because people are not computers, they will not follow predictable patterns, nor will they always behave the way you hope they will. People are complex, multidimensional, and nuanced, just like love. If you want to find and keep your perfect match, you have to be willing to see the next person independently of the last person. Most importantly, you have to do your mommy-work and daddy-work. I have not yet met someone in a compatible and thriving relationship (and not just the honeymoon-stage of love, but the ups-and-downs-and-we're-still-okay stage) who still has serious resentment towards their own parents. Forgiving mom and dad is key, because, let's be honest, they are our first love. And even if you never knew your parents, the vacuum they have left in your heart will threaten to drain the life out of your intimate "other" unless you repair the damage now. You must resolve issues around trust and expectations, and do some serious self-reflection if you want a true love-relationship that will last.
But if you have done all that, and are still stuck, there is help available!
While there is no real formula to find and keep love, here are my thoughts on the top five reasons why many of the great people out there who want to be coupled up are still single.
- You think your partner will complete you.
We use phrases like "my better half" because on some level we still believe that we are incomplete without the other. There is some truth behind the madness, as we are social creatures and crave closeness and companionship throughout our lives. On the other hand, no one else will be able to fill the holes that were put in your heart by other people. Today's Romeo will not correct yesterday's Romeo's mistakes. He can try, and he may succeed in the short-term, but soon you will find that it still feels like something is missing. The only thing that can complete you is Love. Extend love, be willing to receive Love, and the holes in you begin to fill up.
- You hope once you find "the one", everything will be alright.
Having a companion on your journey definitely helps, but let's be honest: life is a lot more intense when you are connected to another human being. Those money problems you have? They are just going to get more obvious when you have to share a bank account. That secret critical voice? Don't be surprised if your new girlfriend points out the flaws you thought no one else noticed. Life feels amazing while you are falling in love, of course. But those roses and butterflies only last so long. Eventually, you will wake up from the stupor of "she is so perfect", and see the actual human being that you are sharing your life with. And what you see may startle you a bit. Problems don't go away just because you have found love. So begin tackling the other problems while you are waiting and it makes things a lot easier.
- You are secretly afraid of ending up old and alone.
Reality check: finding true love now does not guarantee you will have true love at the end of your life. Your happy marriage is going to end one day, either in death or divorce. When you can really accept that all relationships are temporary, you allow some breathing room into your life. Otherwise, you are racing against some imagined clock to secure a future that may not even exist. Oh, and another thing, your love-partner is not the only one who will care about you when you are older. If you are a good person, and sow some seeds of genuine care and friendship from now, you will have siblings, parents, friends, extended family and your community who will be there for you. If you put all your energy into looking for a mate, you may miss some incredible opportunities to cultivate deep friendships in the mean time.
- You think all the good ones are already taken.
Envy is the poison that kills dreams. If you keep meeting men or women who seem like they are perfect for you, and a few days later you learn that they are already with someone else, there is some bad news and some good news that you have to know. The bad news is that you are still not really convinced that true love is for you. The good news is that you do believe healthy, happy, wholesome relationships are possible. Beware the temptation to substitute someone else's mate as your temporary stand-in, as then you will start giving off mixed signals about how available you are. Yes, many of the good ones are taken. But you too are a good one, and you are not taken yet, right? There are hundreds around the world who share your values and are also looking for love. Your job is to believe that your mate is on his or her way over, right now!
- You keep picking people who are unavailable.
This is classic. Whether he works overseas, she's underage, he is emotionally inept or she's just not that into you, this a common problem for both men and women. Why do you pick people who are unavailable? Because at some level, you have not fully committed to partnership. Don't believe me? Look at your closest relationships. Are you in a bit of a power struggle with any of your parents, friends, colleagues, or siblings? How you treat anybody is how you treat everybody, so if you are not in equal partnership with the people who are already in your life, how will you be able to manage equality in a loving and intimate relationship? To get over this one, first, take people around you off the pedestal, and next, start realizing no one owes you anything. You are as important as the people around you, not more important and not less. When you can start truly living in this way, where you see people as your equals, you will stumble across a perfect match who is also physically and emotionally available.
Love is like money, you think about it non-stop only when you don't have it. Once you have it, you are free to ask some of the bigger questions that life poses. Don't be fooled by your own stories of loneliness, love is around you right now, just maybe not in the form you are craving. And when you are finally falling asleep in the arms of your beloved, this search for true love will be the tale that begins your love-story. Open your heart, and let true love in!