It seems everyone you know is paired off. So how come you're still single? There are lots of possible reasons. Here are 12 biggies from Dr. Amir Levine, a psychiatrist in New York City and the co-author of Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment."
You Play Hard to Get
Do you pretend to be busy when asked out? Pretend not to care when you really do? Playing hard to get makes it hard to find Mr./Ms. Right. In fact, it's likely to attract just the sort of person who will make you unhappy: someone who doesn't feel comfortable being close.
Better always to be authentic.
You Fall for Gender Stereotypes
Men fear commitment? Women are needy? Not necessarily. When it comes to relationships, people fall into one of three basic categories. "Secure" people are warm and loving and feel comfortable with intimacy. "Anxious" people seek closeness but worry their love won't be reciprocated. "Avoidant" people shun intimacy, valuing independence above all. And studies show most people are "secure."
Says Dr. Levine, "Most men and women really do want a close, committed relationship and won't act overly needy or try to push you away."
You're Fixated on Your Ex
Idealizing an old mate makes it hard to find a new one.
This is a particular problem for "avoidant" people: Uncomfortable with intimacy, they push their partner away. But once the relationship ends, their love resurfaces and they convince themselves that the failed relationship had been terrific. Then they compare every new person they meet to their idealized ex. Who can live up to that ideal?
You Think Love Conquers All
Certain red flags indicate you're dating someone with an "avoidant" attachment style - a person who is unlikely to make for a satisfying mate. Does he/she send you mixed signals? Tell you he/she needs a lot of space? Does he/she say or do things that make you feel like you represent some sort of "compromise?"
Maybe it's time to move on.
You Stick with a "Situationship"
Are you marooned in a "zombie relationship? Not getting much out of it but unable to end it? Yes, breaking up can be hard, in part because the mind is under the control of age-old "attachment circuitry" that encourages you to stick with your mate. Once you realize this, you've taken your first step out toward ending a bad relationship and moving on.
You're Stuck on "the One"
Maybe you have an ideal mate or relationship in mind and are determined to find that and only that. If so, it might take a very long time.
Getting stuck on "the one" is something "avoidant" people often do in order to keep true intimacy at bay. Instead of waiting for "the one," Dr. Levine recommends changing your mindset: Choose someone, allow him/her to get close, and make him/her special to you.
You're a Drama Junkie
Are you "addicted" to the highs and lows of unstable relationships? Lots of people are. They're drawn to emotionally unavailable people who make them work hard for every morsel of affection, while dismissing as boring those who are genuine and forthcoming. Eventually, this leads one to equate anxiety with love. That's not sustainable. Even worse, you let secure, loving people pass you by.
You Believe in "E-Romance"
Online romances just aren't the real deal. They may meet some of your attachment needs, but not in a real way. Even if you "graduate" from email to voice, that's not good enough.
Meet new prospects ASAP, and stick to the old-fashioned kind of attachment.
You Fear Becoming Dependent
Some people avoid committed relationships because they worry they'll become dependent on their mate. They think people must retain their independence at all costs.
Dr. Levine says this kind of relationship simply doesn't exist. "We're all hard-wired to become dependent," he says. "The trick is to find the right person to depend on."
You Let Mates "Mirandize" You
Police read the "Miranda" rights to people the arrest: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of a law." In a similar way, some people try to warn potential mates that they're "not ready for commitment," and think that doing so absolves them of any obligation to the other person.
If someone tries that on you, spell out your own expectations. Say you're looking for someone to be close to, someone who'll be there and care for you.
You Think You Should Wait...
Some people think they simply aren't worthy until they lose weight, amass a certain amount of money, etc. But there's no point in waiting, says Dr. Levine.
"If you're wary of getting out there - and this is especially true of people with an anxious attachment style - the best thing you can do is to start dating with a vengeance," he says. "You can find that special someone and improve while you're with them."
You Think Good Mates Are Scarce
Date infrequently, and you'll inevitably invest a huge amount of emotional energy into each new prospect. That's a sure recipe for disappointment.
Better to meet lots of people and desensitize yourself to inevitable dating setbacks. "Just go out there and date," says Dr. Levine.