If you’re single, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself more than once: “Why me?” As for the answer, chances are your friends and family may have been more than, ahem, generous in offering their opinions, and I’ll bet that little voice in your head has had a say, too. But before you find fault in what you’re doing on the dating scene, take a look at what you’re thinking. You may simply be suffering from a slight spell of dating pessimism.
I look at dating this way: sometimes it’s not about what actually happens on dates; rather, it’s your explanation of what happened that makes all the difference in your attitude about love, your dating style, and the energy you’re radiating in the presence of your matches. It’s a theory that Martin Seligman, Ph.D., the father of positive psychology and author of Authentic Happiness calls your “explanatory style.” He says that pessimists explain their problems as pervasive (“No one likes me”), permanent (“I’ll be alone forever”) and personal (“I’m not gorgeous enough”). But you’re far more likely to land in a great relationship if you’re an optimist, which means it’s time to start looking at your negative dating experiences as “atypical,” “temporary” and “not about me.”
Here, for example, are some of the most common (and frustrating) reasons that people believe they aren’t going to find someone to date. If you’ve ever said any of the statements below, I’ll help you pep-talk yourself through the pessimism and remind you of qualities to focus on instead in order to prepare yourself for a successful relationship.
“Nobody is looking for someone like me.” This is a “pervasive” way to look at your situation, declaring that your single status is both far-reaching and without exceptions. But look at what you’re really saying: nobody is looking for someone like you. That is just plain wrong! Take the “specific” point of view instead: for whatever reason, the last few failed dates you had were, indeed, looking for someone different — but so were you! You want someone who loves and appreciates your unique qualities and one-of-a-kind laugh, right? Then keep your eyes peeled for that person. You two just haven’t met yet.
“I’m cursed. I’ll never meet anyone.” This your way of thinking of your current single status as “permanent” — and it’s obviously not true. You meet lots of new people all the time. You just haven’t met anyone lately that inspired romantic feelings in you, which is more common than you think. As a dating optimist, look at your permanent “table for one” reservation as a “temporary” seat at the bar instead. From now on, tell yourself the truth: “I haven’t met anyone I like yet, but I will.”
“I’m not attractive/smart/rich/young/hot enough.” Here’s what’s wrong with this reasoning: You’re taking the opinions of strangers too personally. I don’t blame you — it certainly feels personal because it’s not your résumé or pencil drawing that someone is rejecting; that someone is rejecting you. But if someone doesn’t want to date you, it’s not about you personally, it’s about the connection (or lack thereof). I’ll say that again because it’s important: It’s not about you, it’s about the fact that you don’t share a romantic connection with this particular person. You might be face to face with someone who has all the qualities you want in a partner on paper — smart, funny, attractive, driven, comes from a good family — but no matter how many matches you strike, you can’t seem to fire up that crucial spark that sets your hearts aflame. That’s all the proof you need to know it’s not about you; the right partner will be just as into you, too. Forget about what people might think of you and focus on the connection you feel instead.
“Men/Women just don’t like people as _________ as me.” Yes, they do! Let me ask you this: Do you have a friend? Does one human being out there enjoy spending time with you? Then people do like you — you just haven’t made that specific romantic connection with anyone… yet.
“I’m better at being single. I guess I’m just supposed to stay single forever.” Just because one failed relationship brought you down doesn’t mean you’re meant to be alone for life. You’re allowed to be “good” at being single — i.e. you enjoy time alone, you fly through your to-do lists and you can handle being dateless at a wedding. Your single status is only “permanent” if you choose to keep it that way! Whatever is making you feel bad about yourself is temporary — it’sone person (or maybe it’s a string of them) who can’t make the connection with your fabulous self, not the whole human race. You’re currently single because you haven’t found a specific person you want to settle down with who loves you completely. That’s the real reason you’re single. But if you want a relationship (because you can be good at that, too!), decide right now that you’re meant to be in one and watch the dating world flock to you and your aura of optimism.
Amy Spencer writes for Glamour, Real Simple, and New York magazine, among other publications, and is the author ofMeeting Your Half-Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match.