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  • The common sense explanation for long-term singlehood directs the blame firmly outwards.

  • It isolates the problem to one of mechanics: one is still single because one hasn't,

  • on account of having moved to the vast and anonymous new city,

  • been invited to enough parties, or because the constant requirement to fly to the Singapore office leaves no time for the right sort of socializing,

  • or because one is holed up in a remote village high in the mountains,

  • connected to the densely populated lowlands only by an irregular bus service.

  • These may be solid enough reasons, but when the problem of singlehood persist over an extended period, their power to explain our situation weakens.

  • Without anything remotely persecutory or unkind being intended by this,

  • one is forced to cast around for psychological rather than procedural explanations.

  • The problem must lie in our minds rather than in the world.

  • And in the recesses of these minds, two issues, diametrical yet complimentary, can often be identified.

  • One maybe suffering from an excess of self-hatred, or one maybe suffering from an excess of self-love.

  • Self-hatred is the more poignant of the pair.

  • On being approached by someone, however initially attractive and competent they might be,

  • we begin to wonder why they should be so naïve, so desperate, and so weak as to be drawn to someone like us.

  • When we are inadequately convinced of our own likeability,

  • the attentions of another person must forever seem illegitimate and peculiar, and reflect very poorly on their donor.

  • Love feels like a gift we haven't earned, we don't deserve, and must therefore take care, eventually, to throw away.

  • We might, under the pressure of self-hatred, accuse our admirer of naivety.

  • The only possible reason they can have to approve of us is that they are poor judges of character.

  • That's why they've missed all the more disturbed and darker aspects of us.

  • They like us only because they are blind, and therefore, a little stupid.

  • However, because they are bound to spot their error eventually, it is surely wiser to run away before we are exposed and abandoned.

  • We end up alone because despite our longing for affection,

  • we don't, in essence, feel there are any good and lasting reasons why anyone would properly see us and like us.

  • We may also, in the face of the gifts, the text messages or the hugs we receive,

  • start to feel that our admirer is, to a sickening degree, needy.

  • We feel repulsed by their need when we don't see ourselves as appropriate targets of anyone's need.

  • We reject their nascent dependence because somewhere inside, we are sure that we are not people to depend upon.

  • And yet, of course, none of these specters need to be real in the world outside our touchingly troubled minds.

  • The person who is keen on us is almost certainly not naïve.

  • They can, no doubt, see us for what we are.

  • They have noticed many of our less admirable sides. It's just that they don't consider these fatal.

  • Because they know that being not quite right is what all of us are and is no barrier to a mature relationship.

  • They know we're not exactly who we think we should be,

  • but they also grasp that this doesn't place anyone in the category of the damned.

  • We might be a bit perverted, a little silly, and not as nice as we make out, but so is everyone else.

  • It's not that they are naïve about us. We're ultimately naïve about them.

  • That every human has shadow sides. They've made peace with theirs, probably as a result of a fortunate childhood,

  • they would like us to make peace with ours.

  • Ahead of us, they understand that a person can be ordinarily imperfect and still worthy of being cherished.

  • Then, at the other end of the spectrum, also responsible for singlehood, comes excessive self-love,

  • which really means a hesitation around fully acknowledging what a challenging proposition one is,

  • and therefore, how much we should rightly be grateful for when someone, anyone, with an ordinary share of strengths and weaknesses, looks our way.

  • Perhaps because of the legacy of doting and forgivably biased parents, we are operating with an unhelpful sense of how lucky someone might be to end up in our arms.

  • After having been alone for a long time,

  • we may also have lost the knack of spotting what peculiar, demanding and compulsive people we are.

  • With no one to hold up a mirror, we have forgotten to give due weight to all the rage, anxiety and moments of vindictiveness inside us.

  • At the same time, we are travelling the world with our imaginations switched off.

  • Imagination defined here as the capacity to look with energy, compassion and curiosity

  • into the face and character of another person,

  • in order to search out what might be desirable and good therein.

  • What happens when we look without imagination?

  • Well, we meet someone who is quite nice, but their nose is too big... No.

  • Or they are an engineer, engineers are unsophisticated... No.

  • Maybe they are rich? Rich people are snobs, a "no" too.

  • Perhaps the hair is thinning, and bald people aren't our thing. No. Or they have a strong accent? No.

  • Imagination means sensitivity to the less obvious things. With imagination, one scans past the surface

  • and wonders about what might be worthy inside a fellow human, whom it would, of course,

  • always be so easy (yet ultimately so unrewarding) to criticize.

  • What happens when we look with imagination? We meet someone, they look conventional and a bit formal.

  • But we think they could turn out to have playful and wild sides too.

  • Or, they look mousy but maybe they're also very witty around people they know well.

  • Or, they do have a slightly wonky nose but their eyes are very tender, and their lips, surprisingly sensual.

  • Or, they do have a job that sounds unimpressive but their interests are very broad, and they might be the ideal person to go around an antiques market with.

  • To awaken the dormant faculty of the imagination,

  • we might, more regularly, perhaps in the street or on the train to work, look at the faces around us,

  • especially the less distinguished or obviously sculpted ones,

  • and ask ourselves what there could be to delight in here. There is always going to be something.

  • For we were all once love-worthy children and remain as much in our depths.

  • Take an experiment. If you were forced to love one of these candidates, choose your favorite gender, what might there be to fall in love with?

  • Practicing imagination is not a compromise, it is the key to love.

  • For we all have to be considered imaginatively in order to be tolerated and forgiven over the long term by anyone.

  • By thinking imaginatively, we're not being disloyal to the true ambition of love.

  • We're stumbling on the essence of what love rightly has to involve.

  • There'll always be some practical reasons why it proves hard to find a partner.

  • But if we have worked on our levels of self-love and attenuated the ravages of self-hatred,

  • an absence of parties or a difficult bus ride to the next town, need never condemn us, long-term, to a life devoid of tenderness and connection.

  • To learn more about Love, try our book on "How to Find Love,"

  • which explains why we have the "types" we do,

  • and how our early experiences shape how and whom we love

The common sense explanation for long-term singlehood directs the blame firmly outwards.

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B1 UK imagination love naive hatred worthy peculiar

Two Reasons Why We're Still Single

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    Evangeline posted on 2021/05/14
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