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    Am I being too picky when it comes to building relationships?

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    I’m 31 and happily single, but getting advice from everyone I know on the topic!

    Hi, I’ve been single for about 3 years and have a great social life but don’t feel desperate to meet someone or get married, however I do feel that my family thinks that I’m too picky and need to give guys more of a chance, it feels to me the underlying assumption they have is that my judgement isn’t realistic. I have been going on dates regularly but generally know after the first date if I like them or not, however people tell me that I need to give guys more of chance and not expect fireworks etc. My question is do I trust my gut instinct or perhaps get to know people better before dismissing them?

  • I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about ... View Profile
    You have an interesting dilemma - on the one hand you are happily single, on the other hand you are experiencing pressure from others (and perhaps within yourself as well) to find a partner. When we operate from the idea that we ‘should’ do something, it's more likely we'll then second-guess or over-ride our internal sense of what is right for us

    However, I would suggest that listening to our inner voice is different from relying on emotional reactions as a guide to action. It could perhaps be better described as a combination of noticing our internal responses over a period of time, rather than reaching a quick conclusion (in other words, emotions and cognitive processes work together to determine the best thing to do). For example, I meet a man who seems awkward and uninteresting, but when I move beyond my initial disappointment about how he is coming across, my inner voice tells me to give myself more time to get to know him before making a decision.

    Alternatively, I meet someone who seems sexy and exciting, my emotions tell me he is ‘the one’, we date a few times, then I discover that he does not manage his anger well. My inner guide listens to all the evidence (I am attracted to him, he's fun to be with, but I don't like the way he treats me when he's angry). I may decide to proceed with caution, and to let him know that he needs to manage his anger differently if we are to have a chance together. Alternatively, I may decide that his aggressive behaviour is a deal-breaker. Only you can decide what is right for you.

    In summary, my suggestion is you combine your friends' advice with using your gut instinct - widen your definition of ‘following your inner voice’ to include strategies like taking time, continuing to use new information to make decisions about whether someone is right for you based on how you think as well as what you feel.

    Some of the most successful relationships I know have started as friendship - sometimes for years before people have made the decision to become a couple. In many ways these relationships have the strongest foundation of shared values and experiences.

    Remember though, It's also OK to be single and to enjoy it too! If you prefer to remain that way for now, and you are at a time in your life where relationships are purely casual and you're not in a hurry to settle down and lose the lifestyle you have now, there's nothing wrong with that.
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    Marian Spencer

    Counsellor
    Marian Spencer Counselling is a private practice located in Cornubia, South East QLD, and offers services Specifically for Women. I am a graduate member of ... View Profile
    There is nothing wrong with being single. If it’s what you truly want for yourself then that’s your decision.  However, it sounds like you are concerned with the remarks being made from your family. Why is this you should ask yourself? Does it concern you that your family are upset by your actions or does it concern you because you actually are not too sure whether you do want to be single or not?  Your family's remarks are rubbing an open wound perhaps?  This needs to be explored further.

    You clearly are not opposed to dating as you comment you date regularly. You state that you generally know after the first date if you like them or not. This type of behaviour, to me, indicates a fear of possible commitment? Possibly low self-esteem plus you fear them getting to know you better and maybe not liking what they find. You don’t want to experience rejection from them.

    It may be a good idea to book a few sessions with a counsellor to explore these possibilities further. You may find a few issues that need to be addressed or you may find you truly want to remain single for the time being. Should the latter be the case, you need to put your family’s mind a rest and explain to them you are happy living life the way you are at present and will settle down when you feel the time is right and of course you meet Mr Right.
  • Image of Colleen Morris

    Colleen Morris

    Counsellor
    Colleen Morris is a Clinical Family Therapist and Counsellor in Geelong, Victoria. Colleen works with individuals, couples and families, to promote growth, wellness and potential. ... View Profile
    It sounds like you are happy in this space. I’m wondering what you think your anxiety is about and if maybe, they’re anxious for you. Are they anxious for your happiness? Do they believe for instance that you can be happy and single? Do they see that you have issues that keep people away? I need you to know those answers so think about that. By yourself, is there any underlying reason that you might keep people at a distance? Have you had a previous relationship where you have been hurt and you found that there’s people not to trust? If, as you think about those things there might be some issues to address then I encourage you to have a talk, perhaps to a counsellor about it. If you say to yourself, “Well, no, I don’t think that I’ve got a problem with any of those things” then I say trust your instinct and go from there. If you’re happy with where you are at the moment, then go by that. I wish you all the best.
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