I have been single for eight years. Something has to be wrong with me.
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Dear Miss Information,
You probably get a lot of letters like this — from discouraged people who can’t figure out why they have such terrible luck with relationships — but I’ll do this anyway. I am a straight 28 year-old woman, with a lot going for her. I am well educated, have a great job, and a terrific group of friends. I can be shy but am very outgoing when you get to know me. I am reasonably attractive (some people even think very attractive). I have hobbies, I am extremely independent, and I know how to have fun. I am well put together, I read books, and am a great cook. I am pretty chill when it comes to dating (so not ‘crazy’, and never ‘bitchy’). I think you get the picture.
I am not searching desperately for a committed relationship, although if the right person came along, I‘d be open to it. But after basically eight years of things not working out with great people due to timing or their personal issues, or by being rejected and mistreated by not-so-great people, it is hard not feel very discouraged. I can’t help but feel that I am the common denominator in all of these situations, and take eight years of this to mean an inevitable future of the same. I have had lots of things not work out with lots of different guys for lots of different reasons, and it’s becoming difficult not to project the past onto the future. Admittedly, at times it is a pretty big source of anxiety for me, even though I know that it isn’t valuable or productive to worry about. So my question is, how do I get over this and have an optimistic outlook when it comes to dating and, hopefully, meeting the sort of person I could have a committed relationship with?
Listen, eight years of dating around and meeting great people does not make you a failed dater just because your relationships with these great people have dissolved. It doesn’t mean that you’re flawed or that you’ll never find your soul mate. Okay, let me clarify: you are most certainly flawed, because you are a human being, but that’s not why you’re not blissfully partnered, lying in a white-sheeted bed right now eating a breakfast prepared for you by your shirtless, ripped boyfriend who makes oodles of money working for an NGO that provides medical care and puppies to underprivileged small children around the globe. You just haven’t found your person yet.
I get letters all the time from people who haven’t dated at all in eight years, or who have just gotten out of eight-year long abusive relationships, or who have been dumped by everyone they’ve dated in the past eight years for the same reason which they have yet to acknowledge or address. You’ve been dating for eight years and haven’t found true love yet. That’s okay. That’s normal. You’ll get there. People have this idea that being in soul consuming love is the status quo, that if we’re good enough we’ll be in love all the time. False! So very, very false. Real romantic love isn’t something you’re owed. It’s not the default state in between failures. It’s the kind of thing you feel a handful of times in your life, and if you’re really, really lucky, maybe one of those will stick.
You’re young. You’re beautiful. You’re surrounded by friends you love and work that satisfies you. You have hobbies and interests and the drive to work on yourself. So why are you waiting for someone else to appear in your life and validate all this for you? You have every happiness at your fingertips, and it’s not like you need a special code from a boyfriend to activate it. So just be happy. You can do that alone, you know. It sounds like you’ve built a life you’re happy with and I’m not sure why that isn’t enough. If you stop fixating on the one missing bit of your perfect life, you’ll be more content, more comfortable, more confident, and more likely to attract someone who wants to share all that with you. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep going on dates. Keep smiling at strangers, Keep yourself busy. Keep appreciating what you have. Your person will find you eventually, and in the meantime, be your own person. Make yourself happy. It feels really, really good.
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