“Why Am I Still Single?” Here Are 10 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Relationships
From showing contempt to being overly demanding.
Let’s be fully transparent right up front: There’s nothing wrong with being single. In fact, flying solo can be an incredibly healthy option—especially for those who have been in many different relationships, only to continuously feel unfulfilled. While it could very well boil down to chemistry (or lack thereof) or your ex’s issues, when considering your solo status, it’s also important to understand all the ways you may be sabotaging your relationships.
Because let’s face it: It Takes Two isn’t just a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movie from our youth; it’s the reality that almost every interaction—positive or negative—requires two participants to make things work. And even if you aren’t purposefully trying to sabotage your relationships, you might be engaging in behaviors that could lead to their demise.
So the next time you wonder to yourself, “Why am I single?” remember that your own actions may come into play. To help you know which behaviors may be to blame, we chatted with a relationship expert and psychologist for the top 10 to be aware of. Check them out below.
1. You’re highly critical of your partner.
According to NY Health & Integrative Therapy psychologist Dr. Sara Glazer, this can occur when individuals feel like they’re being overlooked by their partner. When someone feels this way, she says that the person may experience high levels of anxiety as a result of the perceived distance, which leads to intense pursuit behaviors geared toward getting the response they crave. “A partner might attack the character of the partner, calling [them] ‘selfish’ or commenting on a partner’s behavior in a critical manner, such as, ‘You are sensitive to everyone’s needs but mine,’” she explains. The only problem is that if the distance is actually only perceived, it can come across as highly aggressive, insecure behavior, which could potentially push someone away.
2. You’ve moved on from criticism to contempt.
If you reach a point where everything about your partner irritates you but you’re unwilling to walk away, Dr. Glazer says that you may start calling them names and using sarcastic comments in an effort to put them down. If this sounds familiar, know that it’s likely best to walk away unless you can openly communicate what’s making you filled with contempt in the first place.
3. You become highly defensive—or you make your partner highly defensive.
This one’s tricky and plays into the notion of being highly critical of your partner. If your partner always critiques you and your behavior, Dr. Glazer says you may respond to your partner’s communication of distress by denying responsibility or deflecting the blame. The same is true if you’re highly critical of your partner. Either way you look at it, being highly critical can lead to difficult conversations because people rarely immediately admit their own faults when being put aggressively on the spot. Instead, try to talk about your concerns calmly so you can usher in a positive conversation and solution as opposed to avoidance and defensiveness.
4. You ask and expect your partner to meet all of your needs.
While partners are a wonderful addition to our lives, it’s important to remember that they’re not meant to become our whole reason for existence. When you put that much pressure on a person to fulfill all of your needs, sexologist, relationship expert, and We-Vibe sex expert Dr. Jess O’Reilly says disaster can strike. “Practical, emotional, financial, sexual, and spiritual needs are extensive, so you can’t rely on one person alone to meet each need,” she explains. “Turn to friends, family, and other sources of support instead of relying on one person for everything.”
5. You’re becoming more demanding.
As much as your partner may enjoy spending time with you, nobody likes to be incessantly demanded to do something. This can include everything from requiring frequent texting and calling to telling someone how they should dress, how much money they should spend, or who they can hang out with. While those red flags are generally more glaring, Dr. Glazer says that being demanding can also boil down to following your partner when they leave one room of the home to go to another, not allowing for any space in the relationship, or raising your voice in conversations in an attempt to seek more reassurance.
Let it be known, however, that all of these behaviors can be thwarted with clear conversation about your needs and your partner’s. If talking about what’s leading to the demanding nature of your relationship is impossible, then you’ll likely be better off single.
6. You avoid conflict.
While you might think that refusing to engage in arguments is the more mature thing to do, Dr. O’Reilly says that learning how to healthily combat conflict and communicate situations that arise is far more beneficial. “Couples who avoid conflict and sweep differences under the rug often deal with heightened tension, as differences are perceived as some of the greatest threats to the relationship,” she explains. “Once you bring those conflicts into the open, you’re able to see them in a more realistic light and find resolutions, compromise, and closure.”
7. You don’t talk about your feelings.
We can’t say it enough: Communication is everything. “Expressions of vulnerability can deepen intimacy—especially when they’re met with love and reassurance,” Dr. O’Reilly says. “Do you avoid talking about your fears, insecurities, jealousies, and other unpleasant feelings? Naming and sharing these feelings can enhance your connection, so consider asking yourself some questions and then opening up to your partner. What is my greatest fear? What holds me back at work/with friends/in this relationship? When was the last time I felt jealous? When do I feel most confident? When do I feel most unsure? What do I feel in my body when I feel insecure?”
When asking yourself these questions, just remember to focus on your feelings, not placing the blame on your partner. For example, if you open up about your jealousies, explain what makes you feel jealous, and get a feel for your partner’s response before admitting any instances where you’ve felt jealous in their presence. By easing into the conversation like this, you’ll be able to avoid turning the conversation from something positive into something that feels like a blame game where defensiveness could arise.
8. You engage in stonewalling.
This term refers to the act of blatantly ignoring someone, not to mention their feelings and needs. Dr. Glazer says that common behaviors that play into stonewalling include giving someone the silent treatment or leaving a situation abruptly without communicating a plan to return. The immediate halt to the conversation can make the other partner feel abandoned, which can make attachment issues arise and potentially sabotage your relationship.
9. You shut down conversations and judge your partner’s desires.
This is often the result of stonewalling. When you refuse to communicate about something that matters to your partner, you may make them feel like you’re being judgmental of their feelings. With this in mind, Dr. O’Reilly says it’s essential that you find ways to talk about what your partner feels the need to discuss and vice versa. “Compatibility isn’t rooted in wanting the same things; compatibility is a matter of being willing to consider multiple perspectives without judgment and put a similar amount of effort into making the relationship work,” she explains. “For example, your partner may want wild orgies and you might prefer candlelight romance. You can cultivate compatibility if you’re open to diving deeper into one another’s desires and perspectives. Rather than saying, ‘No way—end of discussion!’ open up a conversation. You can always say no—just don’t make your no a conversation killer.”
10. You don’t talk about sex.
Sex isn’t just a physical act to partake in—it’s something to discuss, too. “Talking about sex leads to more fulfilling sex, so don’t avoid these conversations, even if you find them uncomfortable,” Dr. O’Reilly says. “I suggest you begin with the three F’s: Feelings, Frequency, and Fantasy.”
In terms of feelings, Dr. O’Reilly says to be open about your core erotic feeling. “This is the emotion you need to experience in order to be open to the possibility of sex,” she explains. “Do you need to feel loved in order to (possibly) have sex? Safe? Sexy? Desired? Challenged? Each person’s core erotic feeling is different, and once you understand your own, you can take measures to make yourself experience this emotion and show your partner how they can also help you to feel this way.”
Frequency is fairly straightforward. It’s essential that you and your partner are on the same page with how often you want to engage in sexual acts, for if your desires don’t line up, one or both of you may stray outside the relationship to find fulfillment.
“Frequency may be less important than the quality of sex, but it tends to be an issue of contention in longterm relationships, so it’s important to talk about it,” Dr. O’Reilly says. “You will not always want sex with the same frequency, but if you talk about your needs and expectations, you’re more likely to find common ground and ensure that you both feel respected and fulfilled.”
Lastly, fantasy. “Talk about the sex scenes you see on TV and in the movies,” Dr. O’Reilly suggests. “What do you like? What turns you off? It’s often easier to talk about other people’s sexual interactions than our own, but you can still gain important insights from these conversations.”
At the end of the day, a healthy relationship is centered upon a secure connection between partners. According to Dr. Glazer, a major component of this is being able to send and receive clear emotional signals. “Once we understand the underlying emotional needs, the goal is to learn to express and respond to these needs in a more constructive and clear manner so that safety is established,” she says.
By understanding this, these behaviors, and how to shift them, you can stop wondering why you’re single and work toward cultivating your healthier relationship—with yourself and with a partner(s), if you so choose.