There’s a great quote in the movie Her (2013) where a jaded character describes love as a “form of socially acceptable insanity.” And yeah, we’d have to agree. Falling in love is terrifying. One minute you’re leading a simple life as a single person, and the next, you’re handing over all that hard-earned autonomy for a life of physical, emotional, and financial co-dependence. You’re completely vulnerable. Fall in love, and you give another person the capacity to break your spirit. (Of course, they can also make you incredibly happy, but those odds can feel a little long once you’ve gotten used to being single.)
It’s easy to blame bad luck and a lack of opportunity for your perpetual singleness, but if you really are looking for love, maybe the problem is that you’re scared of it. For every interested party you’ve encountered, you’ve contrived a hundred excuses for why the person isn’t right for you. It’s not that you don’t believe in love. It’s that deep down inside, the prospect of being so involved with someone doesn’t seem worth the plunge.
Sound familiar? Read on.
1. You always talk yourself out of falling in love with someone before anything can happen
We all know how love begins: with butterflies, verbal incontinence, and an inexplicable need to adopt his tastes as your own. Apparently, he feels the same way. But before you guys have “the talk”, you decide against all your feelings that this guy just isn’t the One. He doesn’t make a lot of money, he’s an annoyingly picky eater, and he bears this creepy resemblance to your dad. Yeah, better not. By making a preemptive decision to not fall in love with this person, you nip all possibilities in the bud, thus saving yourself the trouble of an imminent breakup.
The bottom line: However legitimate your reasons might be, there are at least five ways anything we pursue – be it a job, a person, or a friendship – can go wrong. There’s a thin line between being rational and being risk-averse, and perhaps it falls at that point where we can no longer tell the difference between reasoning and making excuses.
2. You condemn half the population based on a handful of bad experiences
Three of your ex-boyfriends cheated on you, therefore, all men are doomed to stray. That’s just biology. No man was build for monogamy. Also, both of the Chinese men you’ve dated ended up being mama’s boys, so you should just avoid Chinese guys. And don’t even think about dating expats. They’re all just pervs with a thing for Asian women. Basically, all guys suck.
The bottom line: While it’s easy to get discouraged after dating a series of duds, perhaps it’s better to adopt the philosophy of Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
3. You only want what you can’t have
You constantly aim for the 10/10s despite being only a 5. You crush on people who wouldn’t give you a second glance. They’re either out-of-this-world hot, already taken, or they’re an actual celebrity. Instead of liking people you know in real life, you fawn over Kpop oppas and lingerie models.
The bottom line: While some people would consider your tastes to be borne from confidence, at the end of the day, you’re more comfortable loving a fantasy than a real person. A real person will fight with you, get fat, or nag you after a long day at work. After a certain point, you’ll have to work to maintain the attraction. And who wants to deal with that? Your office supermodel or Instagram oppa might not ever reciprocate your feelings, but at least they’ll stay perfect forever.
4. You’re obsessed with dating advice despite never having dated at all
You know every bit of dating slang that exists, from “friend zoning” to “White Fanging” to “negging”. You can list out the 10 signs your boyfriend is a man-child, the 15 ways to flirt using body language, and the 12 mindsets that are holding you back from finding true love. The one thing you can’t do? Cite any relevant relationship experience from within the last five years that would support your expertise.
The bottom line: By only talking about love in abstract terms, you’re basically like someone who is obsessed with cars but who doesn’t know how to drive. No matter how many car manuals you study, and no matter how much you geek out over luxury vehicles, nothing compares to peeling out in an actual Ferrari. We can promise you’ll learn a lot more from taking the plunge than from reading about it.
5. You only pursue shallow relationships
Your relationships never last longer than six months. You avoid labels like “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”, choosing to stay unofficial until you’re ready to commit (which is really code for “until the relationship gets complicated you move on to someone new”.) Despite going on trips abroad and spending nights at each other’s flats, your relationship never really moves beyond the physical. Once the other person starts getting a bit sticky, you hit the “reset” button and scram.
The bottom line: You like the companionship, but not the responsibility or the vulnerability that comes with love. But by avoiding all the messy parts of a real relationship, you miss out on all the good stuff too – the security, the transparency, the comfort of a shared history, to name a few things.
6. You only date people you could never really love
This might sound counterintuitive, but hear us out – like the person who chooses a series of shallow relationships over one meaningful one, you date a series of sub-par people over one who could really get to you. You’re an accomplished intellectual with a collection of graduate degrees and awards, but you only date women who believe that extraterrestrials created the Egyptian pyramids. Or conversely, you’re a vivacious, outgoing woman with tons of friends, but you only date guys whose idea of “date night” consists of doing crosswords while eating oatmeal. You’re clearly mismatched, but hey, it’s better than nothing.
The bottom line: Again, you like the companionship, but your need to be in control of your heart has led you to dating people who can never really capture it. To which we ask – what’s the point of dating? Isn’t it ultimately less complicated to be single than to date someone you don’t really like?
7. You purposely sabotage your relationships
You like this guy, you kind of suspects he likes you, but before anything can happen, your friend confesses that she’s interested in him. Instead of fighting for the guy, you set him up with your friend in an act of generosity. Or is it? Even though you feel a bit pressed that he actually chose her instead of you, you can’t help feeling relieved that you’re back on the market. And when you actually do get into relationships, you push your partner away even when things are going well, assuring him that you are nothing but trouble and that he or she is better off without you.
The bottom line: The only thing you fear more than pain is happiness itself. Every time something good happens, you start wondering if there’s a catch. Since it’s only a matter of time before your short-lived happiness ends in crushing disappointment, you’d best quit while you’re ahead. End the love affair before it has a chance to live and die. In other words, you’re so insecure about your ability to conquer a challenging situation that you surrender prematurely. As the adage goes, you lose 100 per cent of the battles that you don’t fight.