Everyone’s Married Except Me!

This post is for those of you who are upset about not being married yet. I’m not saying you have to be married to be happy. Not these days. I’m simply offering a few thoughts and insights that may be of some use to those of you who are wishing you were married.

OK, we have to start with a humble acknowledgment that love cannot be made to happen. At least, not by human beings. This one’s a bitter pill for some people. I think you have to accept this reality before you can make any reasonable changes in your situation. Love comes and goes freely and on its own schedule. Even when it comes, you’re not guaranteed love will stay a lifetime. Sorry, love loves its freedom.

Now the good news is, as mere mortals we can do things that improve our chances that love will come, stay, and grow. These things are in the category I call ‘working on your love-life.’ Instead of just trying to tell you all the things you’re doing wrong, I’m going to talk about what you can do to prepare yourself for love while you’re waiting for love to show up.

Let’s say you’re feeling humble and you’ve accepted that love cannot be made to happen. Now what can you think about or do that could conceivably increase your chances of falling in love? Here’s the idea: you can get yourself mentally and physically prepared for love if and when it arrives. If you’re prepared, you’re more likely to accept the love you’re feeling and/or being offered. It’s pretty tragic to run away from or mishandle love when it shows up. This happens all the time and is certainly the inspiration for many kinds of tragic love stories. So how can you prepare for love?

There are a number of different approaches to preparing yourself for love. They all take you to the same place. Think of them as different ways you could increase the likelihood of attracting and growing love in your life. You might decide to work with some and not others. Some involve changes you can make on the outside of your life and others involve changes you can make on the inside of you. For example, you might discover that you’re not interacting enough with eligible single people. That would require a change on the outside. Changing what you think or feel would require a change on the inside.

Given the fact that you’ve decided to start preparing for love, meaning you’re not going to refuse it or chase it away if and when it shows up, there’ll still be a pretty strong ‘luck’ element at work. Spending an adequate amount of time interacting with more emotionally available people will naturally increase your chances of meeting someone special. If you have a resistance to this, that’s what you’d have to work with. Of course there are instances where a change on the outside is not effective without a change on the inside.

Of course, you could be hanging around with the same unavailable people, looking the same old way, doing the same old things, in the same limited places just because that’s what you’re familiar with. This is precisely why I talk a lot about doing a Love-Life Review. At it’s most basic level a Love-life Review simply means taking the time to review what is going on in your love-life. The general objective is to find out what you’re actually doing in your love-life and whether you’re repeating things that aren’t working for you. To accurately identify and see what patterns are at work in your love-life.

Making changes on the outside of you, whether it be in how you look, where you go, and what you do is always easier than making changes on the inside. Granted. But changes on the inside, when effective, have big effects on your love-life. If you’ve got the stomach for it, your Love-Life Review could take you into the following areas of your love-life: your ability to give love, your ability to receive love, the love-life task you are dealing with at the moment, and your expectations of love.

Your ability to give love is usually shaped by your past experiences with love starting from when you were quite young. Unfortunately sometimes we learn things about love that limit or distort our love-life experiences later on. This often happens when you’ve experienced disappointments in love earlier in life that are not yet resolved going into adulthood. When you feel like you’ve been deprived of love, especially from the people who were supposed to love you while growing up, this feeling can inhibit your ability to give love now in adulthood.

I find that once a person is able to identify this connection between the past and conflicts about the giving of love now in adulthood, the wheels of change start turning. Knowing what negative past experience is more than likely affecting your love-life now is 50% of the cure. The rest is to let yourself feel the passing emotions involved when you think about this stuff and practice giving love you feel in any creative way that you prefer.

What about your ability to receive love? This one has a lot to do with how you feel about you. You see, the formula is pretty simple. When you make taking care of yourself better, you automatically preparing yourself to receive love. Think of it this way, if you review how well you are taking care of yourself and discover it’s not good enough, you can work on making it better. Get rid of anything in your life that is hurting or holding you back. When you do that, your self-esteem automatically increases. Improvements in self-esteem are one very effective way of preparing for love.

Another way to think about this is, when you love yourself, you make it easier for other people to love you. When your self-esteem goes up, your ability to receive love goes up as well. Working on your self-esteem involves identifying something that would make you feel better about you. Then making that a ‘project.’ The simple act of identifying areas of growth already  indicates you consider yourself valuable enough to work on. Your ‘lovability quotient’ has gone up.

It’s good to know which love-life task is dominating your love-life. In this case it’s finding a lover. A person is always dealing with one love-life task or another. Love-life tasks often rotate as a person progresses in his or her love-life. In addition to finding a lover, there is committing to one, sustaining love in a love relationship, leaving a relationship, and living alone when necessary. My research and life experience tell me that a person really only deals with one love-life task at a time. I think it’s the way we’re built.

And of course, there are your love-life expectations. How other people treat you (look for a pattern) and how you treat others (again look for a pattern) will give you the clues you’ll need to figure out if your expectations are in line with a love commitment or marriage. Preparing for love would involve thinking about what you expect from a lover and yourself in a love relationship. I can’t tell you how many people I know who never think about this stuff. If you never think about it, you can’t review it, identify problems, and change them for the better.

Last on my list of possible preparations for love is how you think, feel, and act when you’re in a situation where meeting an eligible partner is possible. I’ve met a lot of people who have very negative beliefs and opinions about marriage. Believe me, this stuff gets broadcasted. Excuse the metaphor, but it leaks out of your brain and into the impressions other people have of you. Whether you decide to write down your thoughts in a journal or simply talk about your views on love and marriage, getting your thoughts out in the open helps bring these kinds of limiting beliefs to light.

How do you feel about marriage? Using your feelings as a reference, remember, fear, anger, frustration, and defensiveness scare people away. A lot of sadness means you have losses that are not yet resolved and may be interfering with starting a new love-life. What you want is to be comfortable, interested, curious, spontaneous, and vulnerable in the presence of love. The way to get there is to figure-out what is creating your negative love-life emotions.

Last but not least, what are you actually doing in love-life situations? What actions are you taking that may or may not be helping you? Are you distancing yourself? Are you offensive or defensiveness? Are you passive rather than actively engaging with other people? To start preparing yourself for love, pick one or more of these issues I’ve listed in this post and make some improvements. It’s work but it pays off. Just try doing something different and unpredictable. The consequences will be interesting I assure you.

Comments? Dr. T. Jordan




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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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