Everyone has a friend who is perpetually single. They seem to date the worst people — albeit very briefly — and are never in happy, healthy-ish relationships. They’re not horribly disfigured, so it’s always been a bit of a mystery as to why they haven’t been taken off the market.
While we tend to view those who haven’t been coupled up as too picky, or damaged in some way, Kimberley Moffit, Psychotherapist, Relationship Expert and founder of KMA Therapy (www.kmatherapy.com), explains why some people seem to stay single forever, and how you can help them find love if they want to lose their long-term relationship (LTR) virginity. (And no, the answer isn’t Plenty of Fish.)
1) They haven’t found the right person.
Don’t write off people who says this as just being too picky for their own good. Moffit explains that while some people who would like to be in an LTR claim they haven’t found that special someone, it’s more likely they are dealing with a personal issue. “They may had social, physical or health limitations that make them feel or seem less desirable to others,” says Moffit, citing a lack of confidence or dating skills as the real reason someone may have not had success in the LTR department.
Rather than fault them for being so picky, try to point out why they’re a catch and introduce them to people you think would be great for them (without laying it on too thickly). Setting them up on a few dates or getting them into activities where they’ll meet new people could be a good place to start.
2) Fear of commitment.
Maybe your friend is always the life of the party, and being tied down sounds awful to them. While you could just assume they’ll want to settle down some day, Moffit says the bravado may be a cover. “Some people have plenty of opportunity but avoid it. They are terrified of being hurt, or they prefer the lifestyle that being single affords them. Either way, it is their choice to not be in a LTR.”
There’s not much you can do in this situation, except be ready to help your pal when they do know exactly what they want. Encourage them to be honest with their expectations with future potential partners, without any fear of rejection. “Doubt and panic can be contagious. If you spend too much time being afraid, you may instill doubt into your partner,” explains Moffit. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
3) They’re waiting for perfection.
“Some people feel that it needs to be ‘perfect’ or have a terrible fear of ‘messing up’,” says Moffit of those looking for their first real LTR. Whether your friend is stalling out of fear of something new, or making their first LTR a bigger deal than it needs to be, Moffit says that everyone has to go through some emotionally messy situations. “Like everything in life, we learn from experience. Not every experience will be perfect, but we need those early failures to learn what makes a relationship successful for us so we can make our future ones great.”
Point out the lessons you’ve learned from your dating history, and encourage your friend to do to the same—or they could be waiting a long time for Mr./Mrs. Right. Also, encouraging them to be more open-minded about potential mates could open their eyes. The blind date route could also work…
4) They are desperate for an LTR.
On the other end of the spectrum, says Moffit, are those who are “always trying to create a relationship with “the first person that comes around.” Usually, this person is so excited when they first meet someone, their actions come off as super desperate to potential matches. Because they aren’t worried about the right fit, these friends can end up feeling undateable after so much rejection, or think that getting into an LTR is harder than solving a Rubik’s Cube.
Moffit says this friend needs to remember to be clear about what kind of a relationship they want with potential mates, but to also make it clear they’re a catch who has other options too! Note: a great relationship shouldn’t be hard to create if it’s with the right person.
5) They’ve given up.
“Some people attribute break ups to themselves being ‘unloveable’ and ‘not being relationship material,’” says Moffit. If your friend is seeing their lack of success as their own personal fault, you may need to help them deal with this insecurity before it gets worse.
If this is the case, your friend needs to know that it’s normal to be without an LTR in the early stages of life. As long as they don’t make a big deal out of it to a future partner, it shouldn’t be a red flag. “Your history is what makes you who you are today, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of,” says Moffit. “If asked, explain your rationale and make no apologies. The main point is, you’re ready to be in a relationship now and you’re making that happen for yourself. If the other person doesn’t sense your sincerity or has doubts about your relationship past, they’re probably not the right one for you.”
Just send your friend this article, and watch their appreciation roll in. (Kidding!) But seriously, try some of these subtle techniques, and remember to give your friend lots of love so they know they’ll deserve it when it does happen!