In my 20’s I spent a few consecutive years single. I consider myself more of a relationship person (not everyone is), so I did not WANT to be single during that time. For me it was distressing trying to find a partner, and to add to that distress, people had a lot of things to say about the rules of finding someone.
I work with a lot of single people, and I continue to hear some of the same “rules” about relationships. Allow me to debunk some of these MYTHS:
- You have to love yourself first: This one is particularly irritating, because low self esteem surrounds just about every mental health diagnosis. So I would love to see the research on healthy relationships and measure how many of those people believe they loved themselves completely before they found one another. The other reason this is frustrating is because we often do not see our flaws as clearly until we are in a vulnerable relationship, so I would say, how can one know whether or not he/she has full love for himself/herself without trying to be in a relationship? I’m not saying self-love isn’t important or that people shouldn’t prioritize their needs (avoiding codependence), but I am saying that it’s unlikely everyone fully loves themselves before getting into a relationship.
- You have to stop looking: Well that seems ridiculous to me, because if you need money do you sit back and wait for it? If you want to make friends should you sit back silently? If you want to be healthy do you just stop caring? We have to put ourselves in the position to meet someone if we care to meet someone. Love usually doesn’t fall from the sky.
- Your standards are too high: Say what? Exactly what is too high of a standard? People are attracted to what they are attracted to (usually familiarity), and there actually isn’t a standard for feeling attraction toward someone. People may say they have a type, but when you meet someone you like, you are usually willing to toss some of your standards aside. And really I just think that’s a cruel thing to say to anyone, because people should have standards for who they choose to partner up with; isn’t that part of loving yourself? Gotcha there!
- If you are older and single, something is wrong with you: Now this is not entirely false. There often is a reason when a person is chronically single. However, that is not a fair generalization. There are a lot of reasons people might be single: traumatic previous relationship, spousal death, focusing on kids, building a career, etc. What we should really be concerned with is, has this person been in a long-term relationship before? If so, we know he/she is capable of it if he/she wants to be.
- You need to be alone first: Also not entirely false. Being able to be wild and free for a period of time does seem to be a common desire among humans; however, everyone is different, so again, not fair to generalize. Some people are relationship people, and tend to get attached to other humans easier. Some people are more detached people, and they do not care as much about relationships. You are who you are and it’s okay to be whatever way you are. There is literally someone for everyone if you so choose.
- You are moving too fast: Moving fast can indeed be a sign of an abusive relationship, because abusers like to seal the deal while things are hot in order to really get their hooks in before you see who they really are. However, relationships are formed so many different ways that no one can say what is right and wrong. One of my besties has parents who dated less than 3 months before they got engaged. My own parents were engaged after 6 months of being together. Both couples lasted 30+ years so far.
Bottom line to me is that there is no formula for how to be single or how to find someone. You have to be you, and do what you think is right for you. Society doesn’t have research to prove these things are correct, which means, people are just spreading MYTHS. I have been guilty of believing some of this stuff myself in the past, and that is likely why I get so passionate about it now. But I have also been working with thousands of people across 10 years, and I can tell you, there truly is NOT a proper way to do life, find love, etc.