You’ve heard people utter this phrase about a hapless dater — or would-be dater. Perhaps you’ve said it yourself after a vexing encounter with a single. And of course, it can be said about either gender.
The speaker usually says it after an unpleasant interaction, or even hearing about someone’s clueless behavior. I thought it myself recently after a potential suitor’s second call, during which this accomplished, intelligent man was argumentative and condescending.
But whenever I hear someone matter-of-factly say, “No wonder he (or she) is single,” I think, “But I’m single. Just because someone is still single doesn’t mean s/he is clueless, offensive, or uncouth.”
I’d guess no one considers him/herself clueless, offensive, uncouth or any unflattering adjective. We justify our behavior as being appropriate based on our logic. The man I deemed argumentative probably thought he was just pointing out the flaws in my thinking. The know-it-all at Thanksgiving dinner probably thought he was just imparting his knowledge to those who didn’t know what he knew — even though others shared their knowledge about the topic. The person who gets defensive and quarrelsome says she’s just standing up for herself.
Can these behaviors cause someone to remain single longer than they’d like? Absolutely. Yet, I see these same behaviors in coupled people too. So did they become this way after they married? Or did their sweetie just learn to live with them? Who knows.
The fewer obnoxious behaviors you have, the easier it is to find someone who wants to be with you. So while I believe in working to reduce irritating behaviors, I also know it’s impossible to eliminate them all. With focus, you can be on your best behavior for a while, but at some point you feel accepted enough to let your guard down and some of the old ways seep to the surface.
If you are brave, you can ask close friends to point out behaviors that they think might be contributing to your still being single. This takes some thick skin and the ability to hear negative feedback without getting defensive or angry. When I’ve had the courage to ask and fully listen, I’m reminded I still have work to do to monitor some of my off-putting behaviors.
It’s easy to think that the reason you are still single is you just haven’t found the right person. Yet, maybe you’re doing some things that keep the right person at bay.
Have you ever asked your friends for feedback on what may be keeping you single? If so, what have you learned?
Got a midlife dater on your holiday gift list? Any of the Adventures in Delicious Dating After 40 books make perfect gifts! I’m happy to autograph Date or Wait: Are You Ready for Mr. Great? to the recipient and send it directly to her.