Tired of always being the ‘single one?’ Here’s how to cope

There are seven things you need to do to bring you into the right mindset for dating, a dating expert says. Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Does your social media feed seem to be packed with more couples announcing their engagements than usual?

With the holidays having just passed and Valentine’s Day around the corner, it feels like everyone you know is getting engaged or married except for you – and it’s causing you to feel left out, especially since you’re nowhere close to either of those scenarios.

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“For someone who deeply yearns for marriage, bearing witness to engagements, wedding plans and ceremonies over and over without seeing any of it materialize for themselves can lead to a lot of personal pity parties,” relationship expert Chantal Heide says. “Question after question can pop up in someone’s mind in scenarios like this like, ‘When will it be my turn? Will I ever find the right one for me?’ Or worst question of all, ‘What if I never find someone to settle down with?’”

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Staying single while your friends find their ideal partner can chip away at your self-esteem, Heide adds, making you wonder what it is about you that keeps a great relationship at bay.

“You might wonder if your expectations are too high or if having standards makes you too ‘high maintenance,’” she says. “Confusion about what the next step should be can form, making you wonder if you’re anywhere near having the proper mentality and emotional output for starting a relationship.”

Of course, it all depends on what life goals someone has for themselves, Heide points out.

For example, those who don’t want children may not feel a sense of urgency, compared to someone who feels their biological clock is ticking. Those who are single later in life might actually feel a certain comfort with their own company and may be hesitant to bring someone new into their lives. There are also those who don’t feel they need a relationship to feel complete.

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“But as a species, we do have a fundamental drive to source out mates and lean into a relationship,” Heide says. “This drive is woven into our DNA and is part of our instinctual behaviours. Without it, we simply wouldn’t be compelled to make children, and our species would die off.”

Because of this, Heide says, watching others pair off while your love life remains on hold can feel very frustrating on both a conscious and subconscious level.

It’s this mindset of feeling left out and envious of others that can set someone back in their dating life.

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The more emotional we get about a subject, the less objective we can become about it, Heide says.

If someone is too wrapped up in negative emotions about being single, then they may rush into a relationship, hoping it’s what they need, Heide explains. This can lead to expectant and demanding behaviour, especially if you’re trying to fit a square person into a round mould, she adds. This results in fighting, and the break-up can bring someone back to square one, leaving the person feeling worse about themselves and their future.

To bring you back to where your mindset needs to be for dating and/or a relationship, there are seven things one needs to do.

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  1. Be grounded: Be able to deal with your emotions without turning them into expectations. This will help you avoid rushing into something too fast, and you won’t be full of negative emotions that could turn someone off from you.
  2. Be clear about what you want and what you offer: This will help you find someone with compatible values and whose needs fit your gifts, Heide says. Lack of clarity means you’ll ask for a lot of your partner, which can drive away potential partners who feel they’ll never be able to live up to your expectations.
  3. Stick to your goals, desires, boundaries and values: Having the courage to do this will lead you to find someone on the same journey as you.
  4. Go out and connect with people: You’ll never find your partner if you’re just sitting in your living room, Heide warns.
  5. Be ready to delve deep into people: Be willing to peel back the layers and look beyond what people present about themselves. Also, let them discover a deeper level to you.
  6. Don’t let fear hold you back from intimacy: Don’t be afraid of the end of the “honeymoon phase” – this is when you’ll truly be able to know someone and where your relationship is at and what it could be. This is also the point where you find out if you either appreciate or reject someone’s flaws.
  7. Love is a verb: It means knowing what’s important to each other and taking steps to weave those things into your interactions, Heide says. It’s taking responsibility for your own behaviours when partners are hurt, and being able to apologize.

“Without these qualities, you’re potentially dooming yourself to starting all over again,” Heide says. “Every relationship needs a great leader to help make it successful, and if it’s not you, who will it be? Maybe it’s time to stop waiting for a leader, and become one yourself.”

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And if you need that little extra push to help shake it off, Heide suggests meditating to calm your stress, fears and anxiety.

Also, know what you’re looking for so you’ll recognize it when you see it. Be open-minded – nobody is perfect.

Lastly, be happy with yourself. You’ll get what you give, Heide says.

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