They say breaking up is hard to do (and it is), but so too can be falling in love. You need to let yourself go, to a certain extent, which can be tough. If you’re still stuck in the single zone and haven’t been able to make a lasting love connection, we’re here to help you figure out why. We have 10 reasons you might be holding yourself back from love and some ways to move past your inhibitions.
Fear of emotional pain
Let’s face it: When it comes to love and dating, many women have been hurt before, and it’s that fear of getting hurt again that can hold you back from falling in love. “The longer you are single, the more times you are likely to have been hurt,” notes Stacey Martino, love and passion expert. Many women develop a pattern of “protection” each time they get hurt in love that can keep them from really being able to connect with someone new, she explains.
Being a self-contained unit
There’s a fine line between being needy and allowing yourself to need your partner. “Most women who have been hurt will naturally over-correct in order to avoid being needy and will not allow themselves to need their partner,” says Martino. “But if you don’t allow your partner to provide, he has no purpose, and the relationship is unattractive to him.” The goal is to find a balance between being independent and allowing your partner to help you when you need it.
“No matter how cool you may be in your business dealings, with your friends or in front of strangers you don’t want to date, if you’re contemplating meeting people to date, you may stammer, get tongue tied, blush, fidget, look at everything but the person, and you can find yourself breaking out in all kinds of mannerisms that remind you of being a teen,” says Tina B. Tessina (a.k.a. “Dr. Romance”), psychotherapist and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again. It’s that type of shyness that can be a detriment to your love life. “Being afraid of meeting new people can hold you back from meeting the person you can fall in love with.”
Body image issues
No one is perfect, and we all have days when we feel unsatisfied with what we see in the mirror, but don’t let body image issues stand in the way of falling in love. “If you’re too self-critical about your body and your look, you may be so self-obsessed that you never even notice when someone else likes you, and you miss your chance,” affirms Tessina.
Holding out for Mr. Right
Dating a series of duds is one thing (no one wants that), but passing on guys who could be great for you because they don’t measure up to something you have in your head is never a good idea. “If you reject everyone who seems less than perfect at first glance, you might reject the very one you could fall in love with if you got to know their finer qualities,” Tessina explains.
You’re not putting yourself out there
Since life isn’t a romantic comedy, Mr. Right likely isn’t going to come knocking on your door. “Get out to meet people, join groups, take a class, join a sports team or get involved in charity outreach organizations,” suggests Christina Steinorth, psychotherapist, relationship expert and author of Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships. “Find what interests you, or try something you think may interest you. It will help put you in a mix of others you share things in common with.” The only way to meet someone is to go out and make an effort.
You aren’t confident in yourself
Maybe you’re in a need of an updated haircut, or maybe your wardrobe needs an overhaul, which can lead to a lack of confidence. Steinorth advises taking stock of what you can improve and taking the steps you need to improve the things you’re not happy with. “When we feel good about ourselves, it shows in our self-esteem and also in the type of people we attract,” she explains. “When you feel good and look good, you’ll be more open to love.”
Not taking the time to get to know someone new
People can hold themselves back from love by not making time to get to know someone new. “Often people feel like they’ll make room when they get around to meeting someone, but really you need to prepare for success and be open with time and energy so you can attract love,” notes Jacqueline Nichols, professional matchmaker and founder of Intuitive Matchmaking. Talk to that nice guy at the gym, at the coffee shop or in your building — you never know what can happen.
Focusing on fantasy rather than reality
You could be having trouble falling in love because you’re more caught up in the idea of someone and less aware of what it means to be in a relationship, explains Nichols. “Image and fantasy of being with someone are less important when you are seeking a true connection for a lifetime partnership.”
Fear that someone better will come along
Too many people are in constant search mode, and because of this, they lose sight of either what they already have or what they’re actually looking for. “Being willing to stop looking and focus on the person in front of you is the only way to move from dating and into a relationship,” advises Nichols.
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