And How You Can Have Peace
By Mary R. Dittman, M.B.A.
I used to believe that my singleness was beyond my control. Perhaps I was “meant” to be single for some cosmic reason. Or, there was just something wrong with me that I couldn’t identify (and couldn’t fix). Maybe I just had bad luck.
Today, I believe my singleness is an outcome of my own beliefs and behaviors. Because I had beliefs about being single that didn’t serve me, I behaved in ways that were guaranteed to keep me single (even though I didn’t recognize that at the time).
A Course in Miracles says that, “The ego’s dictate in love is to be always seeking, but never finding.” That phrase really resonated with me.
I’m well over 40, and one of the perspectives age brings is the ability to look back and see how our behavior has created consequences that we didn’t anticipate.
I wasted years in relationships with men who told me early on they didn’t want to get married. I stayed in the relationship. Not because I hoped he would change, but because I hoped I would be okay with dating with no promise of marriage.
But, I wasn’t happy, and an unhappy woman doesn’t inspire a man to want to get married.
Because I didn’t see my role in my singleness, I was unable to change it because I thought it was beyond my control.
I’m a strong believer in personal responsibility, and I do believe that we play a role in nearly everything that happens in our adult lives.
We can only change our own thoughts and behaviors.
Once I was willing to look at MY thoughts and behaviors, I was able to see that I wasn’t a victim who was trapped in singleness. I was experiencing the consequences of my own thinking and actions.
I wasn’t honest about what I wanted. I wanted a relationship, but I wasn’t honest about what I wanted in a relationship. I would make excuses, settle, and accept unacceptable behavior from men.
When you accept people’s behavior, they believe it is okay and they will continue to do it. I thought a sub-par relationship was better than being alone, and maybe things would get better (spoiler alert: they never get better!).
I was afraid to set boundaries and speak up for myself because the guy might get mad and dump me. Hours late for a date? Still enmeshed with an ex? Not kind or respectful? I would bite my tongue and try to be more understanding.
This guaranteed that I wasted time with men who didn’t respect me, while keeping me unable to meet anyone new.
I believed there was something wrong with me. I mention this frequently, because it was a core belief I had. I wasn’t pretty enough or thin enough or blonde enough. It was my nose or my thighs or my sense of humor.
When you have a belief that you are single because there must be something wrong with you, people can pick up on that. I’ve heard women say, “My picker is broke.” This is the same thing!
Maybe you believe you’re a great gal, but you just tend to be attracted to jerks. Again, this is a belief that you can’t control what’s happening! When you believe there’s something wrong with you, you are either: (a) busy trying to fix yourself (this was my default setting); or, (b) you will go into overdrive to prove you are alright: you will be an overachiever, you will act overconfident and never be vulnerable, you will act “tough.”
This translates as masculine. If you’re interested in a beta (more feminine-energy) male, this is good. But if you want an alpha male - a masculine male - this will not attract him. So you’ll try harder to get him to like you, which is more masculine, which will drive him away. Then you’re left to wonder why you end up in the friend zone or you get ghosted.
I believed I couldn’t be truly happy alone. It is completely normal for women to want marriage and family. That is part of billions of years of psychological evolutionary programming. The downside is, I wasn’t able to create a life where I was truly happy because I was constantly focused on the thing that was missing: marriage and family.
Therefore, I wasn’t happy. I was successful. I was busy. I was high-energy. But I wasn’t relaxed and happy. I was scared (of ending up alone) and confused (because I didn’t know why things never worked out for me).
When you’re in a state of confusion and anxiety, people pick up on it. You come across as critical and nitpicky. I had men tell me more than once that they felt like they couldn’t meet my standards - even though we had never talked about what I wanted. But I was giving off the vibe that I was going to be a taskmaster and a ball-buster.
I’d like to report that now that I have realized this and learned to relax, be truly happy, and be clear about what I want that I have found my Boaz. This hasn’t happened. But, while I would prefer to be in a relationship, I have come to a place where I am happy and I have peace.
Singleness used to feel like a monkey on my back that I couldn’t shake. There was always an inner sadness over my single status.
Today, I don’t feel like the monkey is on my back. I know the things I did to end up being single. I know what I could do to change it. The interesting thing is, now I am not interested in going back out on the dating scene. That may change at some point, but for now, I’m just not willing to put more time and energy into dating. I am happy and content to focus on the things in my life that bring me joy: my work, my yoga and meditation practices, my interests and activities.
To me, that’s the definition of a One-Derful Life: when you make peace with being single. You may not be happy BECAUSE you’re single, but you are able to be happy WHILE you’re single.
By the way - if you’re struggling with heartache, check out the ABC’s of Healing.
Question: What do YOU believe about your singleness?
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