I am a regular reader of your column and I would appreciate your advice. I am 29 years old and I have been single for the past five years. I find myself becoming very depressed over it. My number one challenge is finding a partner who is genuinely single. Most of the men I meet are already involved, and being the person that I am, I will not knowingly get involved with an individual who is taken. I would like your advice on getting myself out there again — the what, the where and the how.
The search for a life partner or significant other is indeed a challenge, especially if you have certain values you wish to maintain.
When we are looking for a potential partner, we have specific ideals in terms of physical, emotional, moral, financial and spiritual attributes that the person must possess, and we tend to adjust these expectations as the search becomes more difficult.
In some areas, though, we have standards that we will not compromise on. In your case, developing a relationship with someone who is already taken is out of the question. Other people rule out getting involved with someone of a different religious persuasion. Whatever your deal breaker may be, it is important that you stay true to your commitment.
The challenge that faces many single people is the struggle to maintain their moral/spiritual/ethical values while coping with the sexual and emotional needs that are urgently crying out for attention. Some will abandon the former and take care of the latter, while others will choose to remain virtuous despite the temptation to indulge.
As human beings, we all have an innate need to be loved and cared for by someone special in our lives, but whereas some may have little or no difficulty finding such a person, for others it is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Some even launch into a trial-and-error process with numerous partners over a period of time. Others have resigned themselves to remaining single for the rest of their lives.
Believe me, you are not alone in this search for a partner, but I advise you not to give up. You have to be steadfast and earnest despite the disappointments. So where have you been looking? Perhaps you need to widen the scope of your search. What about the gym, service clubs, volunteer groups, sporting events, social events, etc? You just have to get out and be seen. You will be surprised where people meet their significant others — at the bus stop, at a fast food restaurant, at the supermarket, at a Fund Run, at Emancipation Park, Hope Gardens, concerts... and the list goes on. So don’t discount the irregular and unlikely places.
A word of caution, however. Don’t come across as being desperate, as onlookers will read that message and take advantage of your vulnerable state. Be cautious, but be confident and self-assured. Sometimes desperation may make you want to fast-track the relationship, and so you move from zero to 60, but this could send the potential partner running in the opposite direction. In other words, take it slow.
For those who have been hurt from former relationships and are being overly cautious, get rid of the “Heart under repair… Don’t come close” sign. But only do so when you have sufficiently healed from that failed relationship.
In the meanwhile, try to enjoy your single state. It is not a poor reflection on you in any way. Pamper yourself and indulge in a treat from time to time. Go out with your girlfriends or by yourself, and sit and savour an ice cream cone at Devon House.
But make sure that every time you leave the house you feel good about yourself and how you look. Check yourself in the mirror, just in case ‘the one’ is out there waiting for you to appear. Finally, improve in yourself those qualities you are looking for in a mate so that if and when you meet that special individual, you are good to go. Don’t worry, be happy.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org; check out his work overseas on www.seekingshalom.org, e-mail email@example.com.