15 Reasons You’re Single, According to Experts

Plus tips on how to partner up, if a relationship is what you seek.

24 May, 2024
15 Reasons You’re Single, According to Experts

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “Uh, why am I still single?” then hi, same. (JK, I know exactly why I’m still single and it’s because my overall vibe can perhaps best be described as “strange” and “off-putting.”) While, don’t get me wrong, being single can be extremely fun and fulfilling when you’re embracing your hottest Hot-girl-summer existence, it can also be a bit frustrating—especially when it feels like you’re doing everything “right” in terms of searching for a relationship and things just never seem to click.

The potentially annoying reality is there are so many reasons you might be single and so many factors influencing your relationship status—many of which are simply…not really in your control! Hence why it’s so important to remember that, whether you’re happily single by choice or desperately trying to partner up, there is absolutely nothing wrong with flying solo. “It's beyond normal to be single and extremely common,” says licensed relationship therapist Jamie Bronstein, author of MAN*ifesting: A step-by-step guide to attracting the love that's meant for you Singleness is a natural part of life's journey for many people, whether it's a temporary state or a long-term choice.”

Wherever you happen to be on that journey, whether you’re blissfully unpartnered and happy to remain so or looking to move into your relationship era, understanding why you’re single can help you make the most of this stage in your life and/or prepare to shed your single status (should that be something you’re into).

Now, there’s rarely one, catch-all explanation for anyone’s current state of singlehood. But, according to the experts, there are several common reasons some folks might be single—voluntarily or otherwise. Below, relationship experts outline 15 factors that may be contributing to your single status, as well as tips for finding a relationship.

You might not really want a relationship

Despite what society and all of your partnered friends may lead you to believe, some people genuinely enjoy being single. No, really! For some, choosing to fly solo may be a temporary stage, while others may identify as (happily) single for life. Bella De Paulo, PhD, author of Single at heart: The Power, Freedom and Heart-filling Joy of Single Life calls those that fall into the latter category “single at heart.”

ccording to DePaulo, the single at heart, “love being single and want to stay single. For them, single life is their best life—their most joyful, meaningful, fulfilling, and authentic life.” These are folks who genuinely love and embrace all that single life has to offer, “such as the freedom, solitude, and the opportunity to spend time with as many different people as you like as often as you like, or to be there for people who need you, without worrying that a romantic partner is going to feel that more of that time belongs to them.”

If you’ve never felt particularly drawn to relationships, or have found the experience of being partnered to feel restrictive or otherwise less fulfilling than being single, then congrats—you may just be single at heart!

 Dating isn’t a priority right now

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While, yes, some people are happily single for life, not wanting to be in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never want to be in a relationship—it could just mean you don’t want to be in one right now. We all choose to prioritize different parts of our lives in different ways at different times. As Bronstein notes, you may just not be ready to settle down at this particular point, or maybe you’re prioritizing other things like school, work, personal growth, family and friendships, mental health, etc., over a romantic relationship right now—which is totally fine! All of these things are just as valid and important as dating and relationships, and choosing to prioritize certain parts of your life over others is all part of leading a balanced, rewarding existence.

That said, if you suspect you may be intentionally hyper-focusing on other areas of your life to avoid dating and relationships out of fear or insecurity, then it may be time to reevaluate. Which brings us to….

Fear of rejection (or intimacy)

Hi, yes, love is scary! Putting yourself out there in your romantic life—whether that’s taking a chance on a first date or opening yourself up to a long-term relationship—involves a certain degree of vulnerability, and it also comes with a certain degree of risk of rejection or getting hurt. Clinical psychologist and therapist Naomi Bernstein, PsD, who runs ongoing virtual therapy groups, says lack of confidence and fear of rejection is a major reason many people may find themselves single for longer than they want to be—and these fears are only amplified if you’ve previously experienced negative outcomes in your love life.

“Our brains and bodies are designed to protect us from repeating dangerous mistakes first and foremost,” says Bernstein. “Our brains prioritize protection over finding a mate, especially when it seems like we have lots of options (as we do in a modern world) When we have experienced any type of negative outcome (the more likely we have the older we get) our brains weigh that protecting us is more important than partnering up.”

Ye olde self-fulfilling prophecy

Okay, this may be the most annoying item on this list, but I regret to inform you that your own fears and anxieties about never finding “your person” may just be the very thing that’s, well, keeping you from finding that person. (So! Sorry!)

“If someone is too focused on the fear that it's not going to happen, it ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy because life gives us what we focus on,” says Bronstein. “If someone is focused on the fear that it's not going to happen, then it won't, versus focusing on believing and trusting they will find their ‘person.’"

Not to sound corny, but mindset really is everything! You want it? You gotta manifest that ish, baby!

You choose the wrong partners


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You know that one episode of Sex and the City where Carrie finally goes to some much-needed therapy because her friends are like, “Jesus Christ, please STFU about Big” and then she proceeds to sleep with a fellow client who loses interest immediately after sex, leading Carrie to conclude that her whole problem is that she “picks the wrong men” and then she seemingly…just stops going to therapy?

Yeah, that may not have been a great example of healthy behavior (please stay in therapy), but there is something to the whole “choosing the wrong person” thing. According to Dr. Bernstein, it’s not uncommon to unconsciously pursue partners or relationship dynamics that mimic unresolved childhood attachment issues. Basically, we wind up “using romantic partners to try to solve the attachment puzzle you were unable to solve in childhood,” says Dr. Bernstein. This can keep us stuck in unhealthy cycles where we fall into the same kinds of toxic relationships over and over again.

Unresolved issues from your past

Speaking of messy stuff from your childhood, yes, the rumors are true: It turns out things you experienced/believed/internalized as a child can (often negatively!) impact your adult life, including your romantic relationships. (Once again, so sorry.)

“Deep-seated beliefs about oneself, love, and relationships, often formed in childhood, can influence relationship dynamics,” says Bronstein. “For example, believing that one is inherently unlovable or that all relationships are doomed to fail can sabotage potential connections before they start.”

A lot of this has to do with a little thing called attachment styles, which form early on in life in response to the environments in which we’re raised and ultimately determine how we connect with others. “How individuals form attachments in relationships—securely or insecurely (anxious or avoidant), can significantly influence their relationships,” says Bronstein. “Those with avoidant attachment styles may subconsciously push potential partners away, fearing closeness, while those with anxious attachment may seek validation excessively, which can be overwhelming and annoying to their potential significant other.”

Other unresolved issues that may be affecting your ability to forge successful relationships might stem not so much from childhood, but from past romantic experiences. “For example, someone with trust issues from a past relationship could be holding themselves back from showing up authentically with their walls down,” says Bronstein.

You’re too picky

Listen, there’s nothing wrong with having high standards for your dating life—especially when it comes to finding a potential long-term partner. Settling is simply not it, my friends!

That! Said! I’m afraid there is such a thing has having unrealistic expectations. Clinging too closely to your checklist of ideal qualities in a match and holding every potential partner up to that golden (and imaginary!) standard might be robbing you of getting to know some genuinely amazing people. According to Bernstein, holding potential partners to sky-high standards is often a sign that someone sees the type of person they date “as a confirmation of their own ego identity,” rather than, well, another person with whom they could forge a meaningful partnership.

You’re waiting for something

According to Bronstein, some people may be (consciously or unconsciously) putting off dating until they reach a certain milestone or change something about themselves or their lives. Maybe you’re waiting till you reach a goal weight, make more money, or finish grad school. While, again, it’s totally fine to prioritize certain things over dating, if you feel like you’re putting your love life on hold out of insecurity or the belief that something external—a certain body type, salary, or degree, for example—will make you more attractive to potential matches, consider this your sign to let that shit go and get out there. Life’s short; you’re never going to be the exact “perfect” version of yourself you imagined you’d be when you pictured meeting the love of your life as a kid, nor do you have to be!

Lack of access to a large dating pool

Even in this, the age of dating apps, some people just don’t have access to a particularly wide range of options when it comes to finding a match. According to Bronstein, this may have to do with certain geographical constraints (like living in a rural area) or other social/lifestyle factors that simply put you in a smaller dating pool.

You have too many options

On the other hand, having a deluge of potential matches at our fingertips—as so many of us do, especially in cities and other well-populated areas, thanks to dating apps—can also make it hard to find “the one.” Like, why settle down with one great person when a potentially even greater one may be just a swipe away? When options seem endless, the belief that the perfect match could always be just around the corner can lure us into a kind of choice paralysis, says Dr. Bernstein.

You’re not sure what you want out of a relationship

…Or if you even really want to be in one at all. If you keep winding up in messy, ill-defined situationships or endless talking stages that never quite mature into full-fledged relationships, it could be because you’re not being intentional about your love life. There’s nothing wrong with going with the flow and dating casually, especially if you’re not actively seeking a long-term relationship. But if these “casual” flings keep leaving you feeling confused, insecure, or devastated (Hi, been there), then it may be time to get clear with yourself about what you really want out of your dating life and go into new connections with those boundaries and desires in mind.

You haven’t found the right relationship style

In case you haven’t heard, we’re living in the golden age of non-monogamy. If traditional, monogamous relationships haven’t seemed to work out for you, it could be because that’s not your ideal relationship style. Monogamy simply isn’t for everyone, and if you suspect it may not be for you, it may be worth exploring various forms of ethical non-monogamy and/or polyamory. (Ahem, allow us to recommend starting here.)

You’re still hung up on your ex

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You know that thing people always say about how the only way to get over someone is to get under someone else? Yeah, don’t do that. Actually, everyone please stop saying that. Heartbreak sucks, but unfortunately, you can’t force yourself to get over someone—and you definitely can’t force yourself to get over someone by immediately trying to jump into a relationship with someone else!

That said, if you feel like you’re having an inordinately difficult time moving on from an ex to the extent that it’s holding you back from enjoying other aspects of your life—whether that be your work or home life or dating new people—it may be worth talking to a therapist or someone else who can help you navigate the healing process and get to a healthier place.

Timing Is everything

Whether or not you believe in “right person, wrong time,” timing really is a big part of relationships. This can be annoying, because timing is often more or less out of our control.

“If you’re finding that relationships aren’t working out with people you’re interested in remember sometimes timing matters,” says Bronstein. Regardless of how great of a connection you may share, you and a potential love interest may just not be in the same place in your lives or looking for the same things right now. It sucks, but it’s not really anyone’s fault.

Alternatively, the timing within the relationship itself and how it develops is also something to consider—and, luckily, something you have some more control over. “There is an argument for playing it cool long enough for the excitement of the chase to build but not too long that your love interest shuts down emotionally or you end up in a relationship where your needs for connection still aren’t being met after a few months.” Finding a balance between rushing into a new romance headfirst and “taking it slow” when you’re really just dragging your feet can be the key to successfully entering relationship territory rather than getting stuck in a messy situationship or burning out on a whirlwind fling.

You haven’t found the right person

Okay, so I know this sounds like the same condescending BS you’ve heard countless times from all your happily partnered couple friends who insist the perfect girl/guy/etc. is out there for you—you just haven’t found them yet! And, sometimes this is BS—especially when it’s used to convince happily single people that they aren’t actually as happily single as they claim to be (“Oh, you just haven’t met the right person yet;you’ll change your mind!”).

But if you are looking for long-term love and haven’t found it yet, it could just be that you truly haven’t found the best match for you yet, says Bronstein. And, in a way, that’s a good thing! No, really, stay with me. If you’re still single because you haven’t met the right person, that simply means you refused to settle for someone or something that wasn’t the right fit.

“Being in a relationship with the wrong person for you is worse than being single,” says Bronstein. “Feeling alone in a relationship is worse than feeling lonely because you are single.” Amen.


Credit: Cosmopolitan USA


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