“Hey Rob, I saw your post and I’m hoping you can help. Why can’t I find love?”
This is a recent question I got that comes up quite a lot, so I’m going to answer it here in full.
If you have ever wondered the answer to this question, in this post I’m going to explain in detail why love and relationships haven’t worked out for you.
Now this question is really why can’t I find love that lasts.
Lots of people fall in and out of love. So we’re looking for what I call a Built To Last relationship.
So what we are looking for is the right person as a partner, in the right relationship climate and structure, that allows us to be at our best.
A relationship that lasts has three elements.
You have to show up as your best self in the relationship.
You have to choose the right partner for you.
You have to have the relationship dynamic that works for you both
So if you haven’t found love that lasts, there are three possible causes. Let’s examine these in more detail.
Maybe The Problem Is You
I like to think that the more responsibility we can take for the results in our life, the more control we have over them. I know that often people hate to accept that there’s any problem with them.
They have what Carol Dweck has termed a fixed mindset. That means they think they and their skills and therefore their results are fixed. They believe they either can or can’t do something.
People with a growth mindset believe that skills and knowledge can be developed. And so their results will improve as they learn what to do differently and develop the skills to improve their results.
So I write this with the intention that if it’s relevant you will know what you have to do to change your results.
With that said, here are the ways you could be sabotaging your quest for love.
You Haven’t Healed Wounds From The Past
Maybe you’re still not over an Ex. Or maybe there are unprocessed wounds that mean you’re scared to trust and let yourself fully love again.
One of the 8 foundational relationship principles is that we all have wounds. It’s just a result of the way we learn and make sense of the world that we are all going to be hurt and misinterpret or misunderstand things that happen to us.
I tell the example from my past. I never had anything bad happen to me or anyone maliciously intentionally hurt me.
I just had an overdramatic sister who told me that my parents were Murderers. I was 4 and never really knew whether or not it was true.
And so it changed me. It meant I became a lot more closed off and didn’t share anything about myself.
So when I wanted to start talking publicly, I had this huge barrier because that unhealed wound had led to me subconsciously never connecting with anyone or letting them in.
So I wanted to share my ideas and thinking, but everything was stopping me from letting anyone see in.
So what about you? Have you been so hurt that your protective subconscious has said “Don’t let anyone in to hurt you again?”.
Do you have fears on trusting anyone ever again? Link Sometimes the problem is trusting when it isn’t deserved.
Sometimes the problem is that we don’t trust and so the relationship blows up because of our suspicion.
Every co-operation, whether it’s commerce or a relationship needs some level of trust.
That’s why the invention of money was so important. Because it created the trust that enables commerce. We don’t have to trust every single shop, service provider or bank because we have the currency that everyone agrees and believes in.
The great problem of relationships is that we don’t have that same metric and unit of trust.
When the currency we know what we are getting. We know what we have and we know what we are giving.
In relationships we don’t know how loved or liked we are. We don’t know how loved or liked people feel from us.
And this plays into the fundamental attribution error.
This is a natural bias, that I was taught through the example, you slipped and I was pushed. So if two people stumble walking over.
One will assume that the other slipped and fell because he was clumsy. However, he excuses his own fall because he was pushed.
So in relationships, we naturally overestimate what we give to relationships because we know our intentions. Yet we underestimate what others give because we assume that they don’t care.
Fear Of Rejection
Another way we inhibit ourselves from finding love is that we fear putting ourselves fully out there in case we face rejection.
Rejection is one of the core fears we have. It’s deeply wired into us as social animals.
We all have it to some extent. Some people have it in such a deep way that it affects their ability to get into a relationship and it affects them within a relationship.
This is usually a reaction to an old wound. Sometimes because we have been rejected in a painful way.
Often in childhood we feel so hurt by rejection that we try to avoid it ever happening again and so it changes and affects the course of our life.
We accept less than we want
The world is all too happy to make it into what it wants us to be.
From birth we have other people (often well meaning) and schools, governments and religions trying to make us conform into our culture and society’s idea of what we should be.
Advertising is forever telling women that they aren’t beautiful enough and men that they aren’t successful enough.
As a result very few of us have the confidence and trust to be fully ourselves.
We are self-conscious and we fear rejection and humiliation.
As a result, in a relationship there is an anxiety that the other person is going to feel we’re not enough for them.
This then drives us to want to please the other person.
To be needy and want constant reassurance. We accept our partner treating us less than we deserve.
There are parts of ourself we hide because we are scared to be vulnerable in case our partner thinks less of us or doesn’t like it.
Or maybe we sabotage the relationship because we don’t feel worthy of it.
All of these behaviours can be driven or exaggerated by our attachment style.
That is a psychological theory first talked about by John Bowlby in the 1930’s.
It is basically the idea that we learn to trust or mistrust the world based on how we were first treated by our main Caregiver as a helpless baby.
If we cried and our Mum or Caregiver fed us, changed us, comforted us as we needed, we trust that others will be there for us.
However, if we didn’t have that safe nurturing start, we become more anxious or even avoid trusting another too much.
More recently, people such as Sue Johnson have developed the theory by suggesting that our romantic relationship becomes the new primary relationship.
And so our attachment style determines the level of our fears and behaviour in relationships.
So someone who has an anxious attachment style will fear rejection and abandonment and may test their partners love for them.
This creates a lot of drama, but of course neither of them have the words or framework to resolve the situation and the friction ultimately breaks the relationship.
we want more than we give
This is a direct corollary to the last point. Some accept less than they deserve and some want more than they deserve.
Every man has come across the woman who posts these kind of memes on her Facebook and even dating profile.
And he’s probably seen plenty of them that lie, cheat and ghost him. All the things that women complain about men are done to men by women.
There are selfish women just as there are selfish men. There’s a reason why men are so bitter and angry on dating sites.
In the course of their dating Wannabe Princesses might do things like arrange a date with someone who seems ok. Then this hot guy sweeps in and she accepts a date and puts off the other guy.
When you treat people like that, the only men that will treat you like a Princess are the men who want to play the game to get you into bed.
That is why men will post counter memes like this…
A sustainable relationship has to be based on equality.
Accept no less than you deserve.
Give more than he expects.
With the right partner, this is the virtuous circle that creates a relationship that lasts.
Maybe The Problem Is Them
Sometimes you can be the problem and sometimes the problem is who you picked.
Often people complain that they keep picking the wrong partner.
So why is it that someone can think they’ve got someone completely different from their Ex only to then find they have just repeated the same mistake?
Let’s look into some of the main reasons people pick the wrong partner.
I Won’t Settle
While it is essential that you hold out and wait for the right partner, some people are confused in their expectations.
We all work from a flawed framework in relationships, but some people take the fairy tale to be literal and want their partner to be perfect.
Every relationship will have it’s problems. And every partner you choose will come with limitations and problems. No one is perfect.
The perfect relationship comes when you accept that reality and work from that basis to make the relationship perfect.
Some though believe that if they get the right partner, the relationship will be perfect. And so they look to get all their boxes ticked.
Their belief is that they know exactly who will be the right partner. And with that right partner the relationship will be free of problems.
Then a few years into the relationship, things start to unravel.
The couple lose their connection and become more distant. As each nurses their own disappointment and hurt they begin to invest less into the relationship.
This becomes a vicious circle until one can’t take it anymore or one begins looking outside of the relationship.
There are two problems with this approach.
The first is that we know from research after research study that we are terrible at predicting what will make us happy and what we need.
The difficulty is that our future us is a different person. Our environment will have changed, our dreams will have changed. And so what we’re trying to do is to predict what we want in the future based on what we feel and hope for now.
Yet the process of reaching what we think we want will change us.
The second problem is that in relationships chemistry is more important than physics. But not necessarily in the way that most think.
Chemistry is often spoken about simplistically in dating. There is a romantic idea that sparks fly and magic is created when two people first meet, making them fall in love and live happily ever after.
This is dangerous. The chemistry when a couple meet is far more about attraction, lust and excitement. Over the long haul this has minimal impact on a relationship lasting.
By chemistry, I mean that the climate of the relationship may bring out the best or worst in the other person.
All of us operate along a spectrum. We can be pleasant in one relationship or environment and unpleasant in another. It depends on how we feel within the relationship and the environment.
Someone can be great in a dating relationship, full of fun, excitement and passion. But the same person might be a terrible domestic partner where the same traits could be seen as irresponsible, reckless and unfaithful.
It’s important to understand that just as you can buy the perfect plant, but if you put it in the wrong environment it will die. The perfect partner is perfect only within a certain environment.
You will both grow and change over the course of your relationship.
This is why the most important factor isn’t the seemingly fixed attributes that most people have on their shopping list. It’s the strength of connection you have and the ability to nurture and strengthen that connection.
I Keep Falling For Unavailable Men
Lots of women get stuck in relationships with unavailable men. Their lives become dominated by the romantic fantasy of winning him over and living happily ever after.
Many romantic stories from Beauty and the Beast to the aloof Mr Darcy are based on this idea of the Heroine’s special qualities winning over the unavailable man.
The reality is that women torture themselves with an endless and hopeless quest. Why?
For some, it’s a misguided romantic understanding of fate and love conquering all.
They crave the passion and ups and downs of this kind of relationship and confuse the moments of passion with depth of love.
Men who are more stable, seem boring and unattractive because they don’t activate the same desire and uncertainty.
Often the root cause can be from childhood where parenting left us with a need to prove we are worthy and loveable and can win over the affection and love we crave.
This need, along with the romantic delusion makes women feel that how they are treated is a reflection of their innate value.
As a result the response they get causes them to feel worse about themselves and then they feel they have to try harder.
The trying harder causes them to lose their sense of self. They then feel worse because they know they aren’t being true to themself.
When their partner tells them the problem is them, they are primed to believe it and so there is a downward spiral where they invest more and more in trying to chase a lost cause.
Sometimes it’s a man who is already in a relationship. Other times it’s a Narcissistic man or one with an avoidant attachment style.
There are always men who don’t feel understood by their partner or who crave the excitement of a fling.
They will continue the relationship as long as it serves their needs, but obviously it is a secondary relationship for them.
Therefore they will give enough to maintain the relationship while they want it to continue.
As we are all human and flawed, sometimes parents don’t, or can’t, give their children the love and security we all need. As a result some babies grow up believing that they can never rely on anyone else.
Some become constantly anxious, the anxiously attached. Others avoid intimacy. The avoidantly attached.
Avoidant attachment style is estimated to make up about 30% of the population.
Given that these find it difficult to maintain a stable relationship, there are many more of them dating proportionately. And so there is a good chance of getting into a relationship with one.
People who are anxiously attached are the people who will try to contort themselves to be loved. And so when they meet an avoidantally attached person they get stuck in a cycle of trying to make it work and obsessing about the relationship.
Jumping Into Relationships Too Quickly
Many people hate being single. They crave a relationship. Weekends spent alone make them miserable. Often also, there is an anxiety about whether relationships will ever work out for them.
And so when they find a partner that they think it can work with, they get excited and start imagining a bright future together.
They get carried away and often have their list of what they think will make the relationship work.
They also believe that they have finally found their one and that this relationship will be different. And so they jump in too quickly before they really know the other person.
Sometimes It’s Not You Or Them
Sometimes you might have found a great partner. And you might have all the ingredients in place for a great relationship, but it still doesn’t work out.
In these cases, it’s because the relationship dynamics that create so much friction that the relationship breaks.
Relationships need two key things. Commitment and the knowledge of how to make it work.
When there is commitment, but not knowing how to make it work when things start to fall apart, the relationship becomes frustrating. It’s like a fly that keeps banging against the window.
Everyone who is committed to a relationship has some level of anxiety about how the other feels about them. Sue Johnson says every partner is asking;
- Will you be there for me?
- Can I rely on you?
- Do I matter to you?
When these questions aren’t positively answered couples lose their connection.
You don’t actively have to break a relationship. There just has to be enough challenges and triggers that make partners feel alone, unsupported and unimportant.
This will lead to a loss of connection and ultimately the relationship breaking.
This basic dynamic is behind couples that grow apart, descend into constant bickering and lack communication. The lack of communication comes because or both no longer feel safe to be vulnerable and be accepted.
Couples will often talk about being incompatible or growing apart as the reason for their breakup.
Underneath that though, the real cause is a lack of connection.
What we are all seeking in relationships is connection. The incompatibilities were always there. However incompatibilities when we feel a connection seems cute and endearing. Without they are character flaws and annoying.
We will grow and change as people. However the fact that your partner has taken up golf, changed career or developed a passion for running doesn’t change how you feel about them when you feel safe, loved and trust them.
When you feel neglected, unsure of how they feel about you and whether you can rely on them, the changes seem to be a sign that they are no longer as into you.
how to find love
So now we have had a look at all the possible reasons why you might not have found love it’s time to look at how you can find it.
Finding love requires three things.
1.You need to show up as the best partner you can be.
2. You need a partner that can and will sustain a relationship.
3. You need a relationship structure and climate that reduces friction and deepens connection.