Why yes, we are talking about being single. Yet again.
It all begun when I run into this article by Sara Eckel.
Apparently, the “fear of being single” makes us choose bad partners.
Then I was reading Martha Beck’s “Steering by Starlight” and she got to this concept that “you attract people when you are happy and you repel people when you are miserable”.
“In a self-critical, fear-based mindset, the clients seem to physically repel people (..) But when my clients managed to hold on to thoughts of being worthy and loveable, others move towards them (…)”.
From there on, people make all sorts of wild jumps and say things like “The Universe gives you more happiness when you are happy” or “like attracts like”.
And from there, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump into “if you want to find a partner, you have to be happy. If you are miserable, then you will repel everyone”.
We need to talk about this, guys, because it is important enough to understand, but it’s presented in a way that is ANNOYING enough to make us hate everyone and everything… (if you are me).
Let’s start with the basics
Let’s say someone comes to me and says: “Mary, you need to be happy and content if you want to find a partner. You are too desperate, which is why you repel men”.
My first instinct will not be (shockingly!) “Oh, I should be happy, then”.
No, my first instinct will be to turn into a ball of rage and tell this person to f*ck the f*ck off.
Which if you ask me, is a terribly healthy reaction to have. Anger leads to establishing boundaries, which is exactly what you want when someone tells you to “feel something”.
You do not want to “be happy” in order to “get something”. And you most certainly don’t want your self-help / spiritual practice to be determined by how much you attract people.
No. This is bollocks.
Or rather, it is presented in a way that is bollocks.
Let’s dig deeper…
Let’s look at the study on how “fear of being single” makes us choose bad partners
Beware, though. Things are not as they might seem at first sight.
We all think that the reason why “desperate” people end up with “crap” partners is because we are not “choosy” enough. Or because we “repel” the good ones with our scent of desperation. Or whatever.
This is not what the study showed.
Participants in the study were shown different dating profiles, and they assigned degrees of “desirability” to these profiles.
So far, so good. The nicer profiles were deemed more “desirable”, while the less-nice profiles were deemed “less desirable”.
But then it turns out that the participants in the study would not CHOOSE the “nicer profiles” even though they were the profiles they deemed more desirable.
Are you with me?
People essentially said “yes, I like this guy better than this other guy but I am going to choose the other guy anyway”.
And apparently it was the people who were most afraid of being single who did this.
Direct quote from the study:
“These studies found that fear of being single consistently predicted romantic interest in less responsive and less attractive dating targets.”
And now, I will interrupt this writing to get angry. (Because come on)
As someone who has only been with “less than nice” partners and who has always been pathologically afraid of being single, I have to say:
ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME UNIVERSE?!?!? WHAT GIVES?!?!?!
I used to think “Gee, I have been seriously unlucky!”. I wrote a post about it and everything!
I also used to think “it’s because I just accept any guy who shows up, without first asking myself if I truly want him or not”.
But no, that’s not quite it.
And it can’t be like Martha Beck says; the people in the studies weren’t “repelling” nice partners out of being “too desperate” because *they weren’t interacting with anyone*.
They were on their own, making “less than ideal” choices.
So, what gives?!
Let’s try to find The Truth
When you are feeling anxious, scared, depressed, sad, impatient… it’s time to turn “inwards”.
You will subconsciously get things wrong, and more wrong, and even more wrong, until you stop and take care of your internal world.
Getting things wrong is a sign to turn inwards.
I’ll use the metaphor of “flow”, because it works for me.
When we are depleted, running on empty, stressed to the point of breakdown, paralysed with fear, anxious beyond anxiety, unable to breathe or think straight anymore… we need to stop and “fill up”.
You may have noticed that when you get into this state nothing works.
You go and make yourself a cup of tea and you burn yourself.
You try to lie down on the yoga mat and you hurt your shoulder.
You try to send a text and you make the same typo over and over again.
These are all signs. “You are falling apart! You need to look after yourself!”
It works the same way with people.
When you are in a state of depletion, you will subconsciously send the message “I can’t deal with any of you right now”.
You are crabby, snappy, bitchy. You hate the world.
And people will leave you alone.
Not because you are some kind of needy, pathetic, horrible ball of misery who smells of desperation and puts other people off.
Rather, because you are not “here”. You are not present, with yourself, in your body.
You are gone.
And you can’t interact with others in a conscious, compassionate, loving way if you are gone.
You need to come back and take care of yourself first.
By the way, just because someone is having a hard time, doesn’t mean you have to be an arsehole
When I first started doing yoga, I was a walking mess.
I would hate the world, I would sob and rage, I would hurt all over.
And my yoga teacher would give me space to fall apart. She wouldn’t “do” anything… she would be silent in a compassionate way.
This is *not* the same as saying “that person is f*cked up, I’m running away”.
It’s more like “that person needs space to get back to themselves, I am going to take a step back and give them that space, and wish them love from a distance”.
It is compassionate and conscious.
And it makes *all* the difference.
The “fear of being single” is a sign to turn inwards
And that’s what we have to do.
Follow our heart and look after our internal world.
And connect to ourselves. Always connect to ourselves.
And that is much easier to do when you frame the whole thing as “your subconscious is on your side, it is sending you crisis because it wants you to pay attention”, rather than “be happy ‘cuz being miserable scares people off”.
You have permission to choose what works for you. Always.
Note: I wanna make it clear that I don’t think Martha Beck is “wrong”, just because she explains one concept in a way that doesn’t resonate with me. I wouldn’t be reading her book if I didn’t think she was full of wisdom.