“There’s just no good options in my life right now…”
“I’m just waiting for the right one to come along…”
“When God’s timing is right, He will bring the right one to me…”
I begin by admitting that I’ve had each of these thoughts, and billions of others, at various times in my life. The past 9 years have basically been an extended experiment in singleness, though not for lack of trying. I’m a relatively bold and forward man when it comes to dating, though it hasn’t always been this way, nor have I refined the ‘techniques’ (for lack of a better word) for finding my spouse. But I’m getting there! And simply by looking at some of the attitudes and actions of many people I know, I see patterns which reveal why many of us are still single, despite a desire to be married or in a relationship.
So, without further ado, here are a few thoughts and observations on why you (or that perpetually lonesome friend of yours) may still be single, and a few refutations of common excuses we make for it.
“There’s just no good guys or girls around/They’ve all been taken/I don’t meet anyone new!”
While this may be true for 3% of the population who live in small towns, the majority of us, if we’re honest, don’t have this excuse to fall on. Without realizing it, we have a pattern or routine in our lives which generally dictates exactly who we will encounter throughout our days and weeks.
You work somewhere and depending on where that is and what you do, you probably know everyone where you work. You see familiar faces at the gym and the grocery store. Your church, depending on several factors, seems to always come up dry as well.
And yet, you travel through roughly the same routine every week without changing anything…and expect something to change! For a dashing new man to walk through the door of your church, or a ravishing young woman to get hired at your job. Not that these things never happen, because of course, they do, but why not take things into your own hands? Why not make small adjustments to your routine?
Go to a different coffee shop or a new grocery store. Sign up for a class where people who have the same interests as you will gather. Check out a new church (honestly…just to scope out the prospects. Been there, done that…) or go to a party you’d normally say ‘no’ to.
Unless you are actually in a tiny town where all the inhabitants know each other, there’s a good chance there are plenty of fish in your sea, you’ve just missed them by falling into your routine. So mix it up! Do things you normally wouldn’t. If you spend all your Friday nights playing board games at Vicky’s apartment, how do you possibly expect to meet new people there?
Of course, if all these options fail, call upon technology to save you from your singleness. The stigma seems to be fading regarding dating apps and websites. Don’t count them out just because of the awkwardness, or the embarrassment of having to tell people you met online.
How to meet new people
I admit that I’m a freak of nature. An ‘extroverted-extrovert’ who not only enjoys being around people all the time, but even meeting new people! So, this step is relatively easy for me, but I recognize that’s not the case for many of you.
So, you’ve signed up for a class or shown up at a party where you don’t really know anyone. Now what?
As someone who actually walks up to people and starts a conversation, I can say that there are clear signs that someone actually wants to chat and be open to meeting new people.
Step 1? Eye contact.
Even if you’re not the type to walk up and meet people, you can accidentally give off the wrong message simply by avoiding eye contact and looking away. This tells people like me that you don’t want to talk, you’re not interested in opening up to new people. Would you want to go over and chat with someone who looks away immediately, or someone who makes eye contact and maybe even smiles a little bit?
As a guy, I can tell you that a girl maintaining eye contact and giving a little smile sends a pretty clear invitation! You don’t have to wear the pants per ce, just show that you’re open. Many people close themselves off without realizing it and then wonder why no one ever approaches them and asks for their number.
Think about some of your married friends: Even when they were single, were they closed off and awkward, or were they outgoing, friendly and open? I’ve realized that there are reasons certain people get married sooner than others, and almost all of them have something about their personalities which is not only open to connecting with others, but shows it really well.
And if you’re the guy? You should know by now what I’m going to tell you. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Man up. Gather your courage and think of something to say. Breaking the ice is the hardest part and it’s usually downhill sledding from there. Remember, it’s shame which is the root of all these insecurities and fears of rejection, which leads me to the next point,
Sometimes the factors are internal
I literally cannot fully state how much of an impact shame makes on our day-to-day lives, and the places our lives take us. Shame makes us run and hide and take cover behind anything but ourselves.
Perhaps the reason you’re still single is that you have these voices of shame and insecurity feeding you lies about yourself.
Maybe you’ve never pursued a woman, or seen yourself as worthy of being pursued by a good man so you settle for either an abusive partner, a weak partner, or simply your own vices like porn and alcohol. Until you adjust your vision, you’ll always only think you’re good enough for digital women on PornHub.
But when you start from the place of acknowledging that you’re already accepted in the deepest place and operate from there, things change. The masks you once donned to hide behind in public fade away and you can be yourself before others. And that is an attractive quality! People can always tell when someone isn’t being their most true self, and this can simultaneously repel quality guys and girls and attract the less-healthy sorts. People who are looking to satiate their own thirsts and hungers in sub-wholesome ways.
I think that often, becoming more “attractive” has less to do with losing weight or donning more makeup, and more to do with being a person whom people want to be around; the type of person who attracts people by being positive, encouraging, and confident.
I myself am chiefly guilty of making more excuses than moves. I’ve called out to God about ‘bringing the right one along,’ all the while neglecting to put in the effort to change my life enough to make that happen. They aren’t always big changes, but often the smallest changes of course or habit make the biggest difference in results.
From the inconclusive list I made above, perhaps the hardest change will be the invisible ones. Shedding shame and putting on authentic confidence (not to be confused with cockiness) in order to attract the right types of people is easy to type but hard to employ. When you begin to see yourself as someone who is worthy of a relationship; someone who someone else could actually be attracted to and excited about, I’d wager you start to see things change on the outside as well.
If you were a hungry person, you could complain for years about your empty stomach, or you could take up your plow, work your field, and make food happen.
Don’t blame your status on your circumstances, change them.
An interesting take from a male perspective.
You admit this is easier for you than it is for many people and I appreciate that. I’m not sure you realize HOW MUCH easier it is than for 99.9% of the rest of the population.
Spot on Ethan! Great post, and I could not agree more. I have gotten engaged since we last met and am getting married May 19th. Finding my confidence in Christ was the difference maker, and shedding my cloud of shame allowed my fiancé to truly get to know me. Living proof of these principles playing out.
I would like to add one more reason : maybe you’re still single because it is not the right time to be in a relationship since God is working on your heart to heal it and prepare it to love that one person He’s shaping right now for you. I’m watching all of my closest friends getting engaged or married and I’ve been wondering why it just doesn’t happen to me. I was the girl that every one of my church-guy-friends fell for, but at that time, I wasn’t ready to give in, I was busy letting my heart open wide to God only, and it was a really really good experience.
Then life happened, my father decided that my mother wasn’t good enough for him anymore, despite the fact that she forgave his infidelity that occurred 29 yrs ago and she wanted and tried really hard to stay married to him after this lifetime humiliation. And now, he’s gone. I don’t know where he is. I know he’s with the woman he cheated on my mother with. Because I had the misfortune to cross their path. Several times. At church’s events (what the f***). He’s still married to my mother. And he doesn’t talk to me, and I want to know why. I want to know how he feels, if he’s afraid to see me face to face because he might know that it broke my heart, or if he strongly doesn’t care about me and my broken heart. It’s hurting me so bad. It’s like all of sudden (well… it’s been 5 years now… but my eyes are slowly opening) I am frozen, I can’t do a thing, I can’t move professionally, I can’t fall in love (and God knows how much I tried) I can’t meet someone new. I keep asking to God why would He let that kind of thing happen to me. Really, why me ? I’m trying my best to do everything right : serving Him at church, patiently waiting to get married before having sex, exhorting people to open their heart to Jesus, etc… I still want to get married, I still want to commit to one man for my entire life. But right now, I don’t know if I’m able to do so, if I have the ability to love that much and trust someone fully. So, here I am, waiting for God to heal me once again. They say patience is the key. Well, patience is rough when everybody around me is having what I’m dying for. I don’t know when it’s going to happen to me too but there is one thing that I know : even if I’m sick of being single, this is not the right time for me to be in a relationship (deep and profound sigh).