Why Are Some People Perpetually Single?

Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): SingleManonlinedating9
Comment: I am 46 and have been single for over 10 years.
 I have done everything; personal ads, meet up groups, volunteer groups, bars, etc., all to no avail.
 I don’t know why this is, but I do know that dating gets harder as one gets older.
 I also think that my not wanting children and my not making a lot of money may also be factors in why I am still single.
 Are we just kidding ourselves when we try to believe that there is someone out there for everyone? And should I just resolve myself to a life of solitude?
Age: 46
City: NYC
State: NY

I don’t really have an answer for you. When somebody tells me that they’ve exhausted all kinds of possibilities in an attempt to meet someone and come up empty handed, my honest assumption is that there’s something about that person that is preventing them from finding what they want. If, after ten years of searching, they haven’t found anyone, then that’s probably because they are drastically lacking in self-awareness.

I think, if taken at face value, that the myth that there is someone for everyone is misleading. It’s one of those things we say to friends who express a sense of hopelessness about finding a partner. It’s meant to help them buck up and keep at it, but many people take it as gospel. They also mistakenly take sayings like that literally. Yes, you could probably find someone to be with if you really, really wanted to. But there are a lot of factors and a great deal of compromise and settling is involved with making that happen. If you just want any old relationship, you can have it.

That said, I think there are a number of reasons why some people are perceived as “always” single.

1. They don’t talk about their personal lives - I have friends who have been dating people for a very long time. If they didn’t make passing references to these relationships, I wouldn’t even know and I’m their friend. Of course, these are male friends. I attribute their discretion not just to their individual desire for privacy but to the fact that there is less societal pressure on men to have someone in their lives than there is on women.  The desire for male approval and attention is a by-product not only of social conditioning but, I believe, intra-gender competitiveness.  Having a man is a feather in a  woman’s cap, as one friend aptly described it the other night.

2. There is something off putting about their presentation - Maybe they’re unkempt in some way or perhaps their social skills are poor. Whatever it is, it’s giving off a vibe that is turning people off.

3. They don’t know they’re audience or they know they’re audience, but refuse to accept it – Nothing will keep someone single like not knowing and accepting your league. They keep shooting for people they’ll never get, which burns them out and frustrates them.

4. They have trust issues or other baggage that holds them back – A lot of people carry with them the years of bad dates and disappointments. Not only do they not trust most of the people they date, they don’t trust their own judgment.

5. They think they want a relationship but really don’t - There’s an alarming amount of cognitive dissonance out there. It’s not uncommon for people to truly believe they want a relationship who their actions never match their intentions.

6. They can’t get past the same point and keep making the same mistakes – Instead of pushing through the pain in order to see where things are going, they either bail or self-sabotage.


As for the part about whether or not you should just give up, I’m not taking that bait. Sorry, but this a pity-party free zone.







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14 Responses to “Why Are Some People Perpetually Single?”

  1. Dark Sarcasm Says:

    This sounds like how attractive women used to complain how ‘no one asks them out’ when in reality, no one THEY WANTED to ask them out asked them out.

    If you’re in a low state of mind, you have to be careful on how you frame things. Have you been single, dateless, sexless, attentiveless for 10 years? No one at all has been interested in you since 2004? I’m not sure about that, and if I’m wrong, I apologize.

    And brother, as a 44 year old man, I know how you feel. I haven’t had a girlfriend since 2002. But I have had FWB, dates, some hookups, etc. doesn’t mean I still don’t get down and it sometimes feels hopeless, because it does. You’re right, it is hard when you’re this old and single. You can’t strike up a conversation with a woman on the train, cause 9 times out of 10, they’re buried in their phone, dating at work is a slippery slope, at mixing events sometimes you’re the oldest one in a room full of 27 year olds, and online? Forget it. I’m convinced Match.com is sending me fake winks, likes, etc to hope to keep me as a subscriber.

    You gotta keep at it man, maybe you have to even lower (hopefully) already lower expectations. If you still want to do online, do as Moxie once suggested, only email those who checked out your profile. There are men older, uglier and poorer than you dating. I know it sucks, but keep at it.

  2. Matt Says:

    Regarding item #3, I have a simple philosophy on that- I only ask out people I’m interested in. When you ask out someone you’re not interested in, their feelings are likely to get hurt when it doesn’t work out, and I’m not cool with hurting people’s feelings. I can deal with rejection; it’s a sucky feeling, but it’s a sucky feeling I’m used to. But I’m not going to inflict that feeling on somebody if I can help it.

  3. Damien Says:

    As one hits their mid-30’s, it becomes an increasingly uphill challenge to find a relationship. Most people that are good for a relationship have been filtered out, leaving a dating pool with more of these perpetually single people. And that includes us.

    I’ve seen lots of women that have been online for years and I mean up to a decade. Many of these profiles contain the red flags Moxie listed in a previous post. Others are stunningly attractive, and you can tell the narcissism in their profile, and in their pictures. I never could get dates with those women, but it seems like no one else is dating them either. Others are much less attractive and I’m not talking just appearance, but in personality, as I found out when I was able to date them.

    Even if you do change yourself, when you are surrounded by such an environment, you can’t change other people. You have to look elsewhere. I made a few drastic moves myself at several stages of my dating life, with all the career upheavals that come with it, because those were my priorities. The changes we choose to make depend on where our priorities lie.

  4. LostSailor Says:

    All of Moxie’s points are good ones, as are the comments, and SingleMan should take them to heart.

    But from a guy’s perspective, I’d also suggest the following:

    * Your focus should just be finding a girlfriend. Your focus should be on you. Find a passion and follow it, whether that’s work, a hobby, whatever, with the aim of making your single-life a full one. If you think you’re living a “life of solitude,” you’re not really living fully. This should have the double benefit of making you more interested in your life and passion, and making you more interesting to potential partners.

    * Be in the best shape you can be and dress well. I’m continually surprised by guys I know who complain about dating who dress mostly in baggy jeans and T-shirts. This doesn’t have to take a lot of money.

    * Widen your potential audience as much as possible and don’t have standards that are too rigid. It’s not about “settling,” which I don’t believe is a real thing but something that people set up in their heads and which hinders their happiness.

    * Things don’t have to be harder as you get older, and at 46, not wanting children shouldn’t be that big a hurdle.

    * Finally, you need to have a good attitude. The first point will help, but if you’re moping about your singleness, all you’re going to project is a sad-sack vibe. If you can’t be upbeat, you’re not going to be charming and interesting.

  5. Yvonne Says:

    Well, this question really opens up a can of worms. It’s hard to give an all-inclusive answer, because each person’s situation is different. Quite some time ago, I realized that a lot of single people sort of shoot themselves in the foot without realizing it. I’ve seen it enough to hope I’m not doing it myself! I agree with Lost Sailor about being careful not to project a depressed vibe. That can also come across as not caring or lacking confidence.

    However, in the case of the OP, yes, not wanting children and not making much money are potential negative factors, since most (younger) women do want kids, and a man with a decent income to help support them. If you’re not making much money, that “might” be a strike against you, depending on how low your income actually is. Personally, I think your income would have to be pretty low to rule out that many women, but that’s hard for me to know. I’ve also noticed that some men who don’t want kids will blindly go after women who do, which is a losing battle. Is the OP willing to date women older than himself who either can’t have kids or have already had them?

    I think that people who do want children are more likely to get married because they really do want to have families. Both men and women I’ve known who now are married with kids refused to waste time with anyone who didn’t want them or to stick around in dead-end relationships for too long.

    It works both ways. If you don’t want children, you may be less willing to compromise in order to be in a relationship, or you may be more willing to kill time dating the wrong people. Of course, if you’re a true commitment-phobe, dating the wrong people, etc., is a sure-fire way to remain single.

  6. mindstar Says:

    Presentation is critically important. This carries over into both dress/appearance and the attitude you convey. No woman wants a “Debbie Downer” and if you’re poorly dressed when compared to other men in a venue you’ll have fewer prospects. Im not saying to try be the “life of the party” or a metrosexual type but rather have a laidback friendly, easy going manner and be neatly dressed.

    What is the audience you’re targeting? If you’re only going for 20-30 somethings and striking out then try women in their 40s or women who are older than you (especially since they’re unlikely to want children).

    If you’re doing online dating do you log on with some frequency? Moxie has pointed out the importance of regularly checking in, posting new pictures and editing your profile to ensure you show up towards the top of searches.

    With respect to money that is a major consideration in New York City but there are many ways to work around it. The city has plenty of free or cheap dating options. Street fairs, museums, concerts, movies, ethnic restaurants (which can also earn you points for being knowledgeable about other cultures).

    Lastly as Lost Sailor said don’t see having a girlfriend/being in a relationship as an end in and of itself. Live a full life, find what brings you happiness and the inner joy that gives you will project outwards and help you attract what you see. Read the poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann it is solace for a troubled spirit

    • NASHWC Says:

      Nice try *mindstar* but money is almost ALWAYS a major consideration for women. But hey, don’t listen to me; here’s what Moxie says about it: http://andthatswhyyouresingle.com/2012/12/01/why-being-considered-cheap-is-the-kiss-of-death-guys (“It’s pay for play, baby”) .. while her article is in the context of being ‘cheap’, the same concept applies to low earners (another hidden definition of ‘cheap’) or any other man who chooses to not invest any significant amount of his wealth (or an amount the women deems ‘worthy’ of her) simply for the ‘pleasure’ of meeting a strange woman with with unknown history and intent. And frankly, when people offer ridiculously absurd advice like yours, the overall net value of blog comments is diminished.

      To the OP: time to ‘think outside the box’. Have you considered shopping elsewhere, meaning outside of any major city proper such as small towns, mid west, etc? You stand a much higher chance of meeting a real feminine woman who is grounded in reality and doesn’t have a long list of stratospheric expectations (most of which she won’t even meet). An even better option for you is to shop outside of the country but given your low(ish) income, sounds like this may not be an option for you. I say these things because, for too many reasons to list here, I turned away from American (and ‘Americanized’) women long ago (and never looked back). I assure you, once you get some face time with non-westernized women from Asian, E European, and Latino cultures, you will be blown away at the huge differences in attitude/dress/composure and will have a much clearer understanding of where a big part of the problem lies (and my current Swedish GF agrees). Just throwing that out there bro .. good luck!

    • LostSailor Says:

      My take on SingleMan’s “not making a lot of money” wasn’t necessarily that he’s “cheap” but by NYC standards probably isn’t rolling in dough. Hey, I’m not either; I make a very comfortable living, but I’m not vacationing in Lake Como or Monaco.

      Yes, not making a Wall Street income will be a deal breaker to some women. Frankly, I probably wouldn’t want to be with those women anyway, so that’s fine by me. If it’s a matter of not having enough spare income to pay for a couple of dates a week, well, yes, that might be a problem for a lot of women, but that wasn’t my take.

      Oh, and SingleMan, whatever you do, do NOT bother with the suggestion to read the sappy, pseudo-happy mess that is Desiderata (if you do, keep away from sharp objects). You’d be much better off with the alternate version Deteriorata. My favorite lines:

      Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls

      Would scarcely get your feet wet.

      Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face.

  7. Lisa Says:

    Do you have a female friend (who is married or in a LTR or dates a lot) who can give you a critique. I have two perpetually single male friends, and I have given them very constructive feedback…but they won’t utilize it. They would rather play the role of the “Nice Guy,” pout and come up w/ all these wacky, bogus theories as to why women don’t like them.

  8. Almontas Says:

    Hi OP,

    Sorry to be so blunt but this can only boil down to a few issues:

    1) You are not very attractive. Fortunately this can be remedied. Get in shape, find someone who can help you buy nice (fitting clothing) and even if you are not Brad Pitt suddenly you can turn to average.

    2) You are not very much socially aware. Often times I work with people over the phone and have made friends and even gotten some dates out of someone I have talked to. These person didn’t know the way I looked, how much I made or whatever, they just knew my personality. Please work on being confident and an individual who is going places. That will naturally make you attractive.

    3) Work on yourself. Become a better person. Read inspiring stuff. Reading your letter gave me a really bad vibe…..can’t even imagine how it must be in real life.

  9. Mark Says:

    Hi OP;

    In all fairness you are asking an open ended question. So much so that at best one can only speculate as to the specifics. But if you have done the online thing, the volunteer thing, etc. and still coming up short – as in zero, then there is a fundamental issue or two at work. So like it or not that’s what you have to address.

    The best place to start is the list of the usual suspects. I believe that a number of people have already mentioned them, So no use repeating stuff. If you honestly recognize one or more of them then work on those qualities that you can improve on (income? physical presentation?…). Try not to dwell on what you can’t alter (age,non family oriented).

    In large measure most people gravitate towards someone because in some way they make us feel good about about ourselves in a positive way or otherwise have qualities that make them attractive to us. We are not attracted to people who don’t. That’s human nature. Good bad or indifferent.

    At 46 you should be able to make a good guess as to those factors might be or at least find out. Hate to sound so blunt, but it seems that you should take positive steps and be as proactive about the situation as you possibly can be.

    Best of luck and hope things improve.

  10. Steve From the City Next Door Says:

    I suspect it is because the OP does not want kids. I am taking that to mean he does want kids of his own or to be in a relationship with a kids that are dependent on her (e.g. if the kids are out on their own that is OK).

    His target audience is obviously women who don’t want and don’t have kids at home. In every place I have done much dating, that audience is about 1 in 100 single women (over 30 or so). Perhaps a couple more who are willing to accept that. Now flip it around. Guys who are willing to accept (including want) the no kids arrangement is 50% or more. This makes the women who are in his audience effectively 10s and really drags down the guys’ value.

    Most the women I have found in the no kids category have been professionals who are used to have money to spend and expected the men they dated to at least have as much if not more – and to spend it on them or are least doing things with them.

    I have met 3 women in the last 3 years who meet the criteria. One has moved away and had health problems and I suspect couldn’t have kids because of them. One has 6 other guys chasing her that I know of. Another has at least a couple of other guys chasing her and I am having trouble deciding to stop even though she has said she lost her job two years ago for selling weed on the job. I know I really need to drop her from contention…and in reality I don’t think I have much of chance with her.

  11. Vee Says:

    I’m 34 and have been single for five years (and I’m a woman, if it makes any difference). Even in my twenties, I always found it difficult to get into a relationship. In my twenties, men just wanted to sleep around, consequence-free. Now in my thirties, I find myself unable to find single men in their thirties as well! It’s just never been easy, so getting older hasn’t changed that. That part I have to laugh at.

    I tried looking at myself critically. I did online research. I asked honest friends I trusted. They all said the same thing: “You just haven’t met him yet. It’s not you.” Let me tell you, I eventually became convinced I had problems that I didn’t really have. I read articles and talked myself into having trust issues, when in fact I have many friends and I really do trust them. I ascribed a lot of psychoses to myself to try to explain my being perpetually single.

    In the end, I came to the realization that it WASN’T me after all; it was the environments I was in. I worked in bars for years, and they’re generally not a good place to meet people (unless you like hopeless addicts). Now I’m in college, and everyone is significantly younger than I am, and I have no interest in the young boys.

    I also had very little sense of self. All this time alone has forced me to develop that sense.

    As for standards, I decided they were raised to high, but not in the way one might expect. For instance, I didn’t want to hook up with anyone; I wanted to wait until I was in a serious relationship. But that’s just not on the horizon now, so I see nothing wrong with occasionally having fun with someone. It’s like telling yourself, “lighten up!”

    I also ran the gamut of ideas for meeting people: online dating, speed dating, all that nonsense. All those methods cause is burnout, bitterness and depression. I learned to stay away from those methods, and any method involving dating en masse, because we humans are not meant to have so many brief contacts with so many suitors nonstop. It cheapens the act of getting to know someone, and reduces it to a product that has to be evaluated. That’s not romantic at all.

    I believe the total number of “perpetually single people” is going to continue to rise with successive generations. It just seems to be where society is heading.

    I tried to figure out how the “perpetually coupled-off” people become the way they are, what they are doing to maintain that coveted label, etc. etc. I honestly can’t find a reason outside of environmental ones. You simply have to be in places where there is a sizeable pool of eligible people to date.

    So, really, as much as society likes to point the finger at single people as causing their own problems, the reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, as with any other human condition. I recommend therapy and perhaps changing your attitude towards relationships. Don’t prioritize having a romantic relationship; treat the idea cavalierly. Until then, sleep around if you like and don’t take it too seriously, until a person who is serious about you comes along.

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