So you went on a first date with someone you met on Tinder. You made jokes and they laughed. You asked all the appropriate questions and listened attentively as they lit up talking about that job they love and that trip they’d always wanted to go on. It was a good night. But then they didn’t text you back, didn’t return your first, second, or third call. What went wrong?

You did all the things they tell you to do on a first date. You have a good job—even if you don’t always love it. And maybe you don’t look like a movie star but you’re not Quasimodo either. You’ve got interests and hobbies and do all the cool “cultural things” and eat (kinda) well and (kinda) exercise and (usually) don’t smoke. What are you doing wrong? Why are you still single?

You might think you’ve just had a seriously unlucky run of it, always swiping right on serial first daters who’re never looking for more than an evening of free culinary delights. You may think all of the people you’ve ever asked out are blind to your many magnificent traits and if only they would just see how big a heart you have and how great you are at your job and how excellent a kisser you are… 

Well, guys and girls, sorry to break it to you. But someone’s gotta do it if you’re going to get out of this “forever single” rut. 

It’s not them, it’s you.

Over the next brutal five minutes of your single life, I’m going to tell you why people who are perpetually single and don’t want to be… are perpetually single and don’t want to be.

A.K.A, the “Why Nobody Loves You” post.

(Ouch.)

(I’m just kidding, *I* love you.)

(OK, not really.)

So cozy up on the couch in a nice pair of sweatpants, grab a tub of ice cream and a fresh box of Kleenex—you know, like you do every weekend—and get ready to be truth-slapped in the face.

Yeah, you know you like it.

You Don’t Respect Yourself

The respect and admiration you receive from others is proportional to the respect you receive from yourself. If you take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically, then others will be attracted to the prospect of taking care of you mentally, emotionally and yes, physically (giggity).

Don’t believe me?

Try it for a month. Take care of yourself. Exercise and eat well. Sleep well at night. Work hard and plan ahead. Be social. Eliminate bad habits. Speak about your ideas without inhibition and expect nothing in return. Cure cancer. Share things based on the simple pleasure of sharing. Pursue others out of earnestness and not out of obligation or desperation. Don’t accept judgments made by yourself or others. Don’t take rejection personally. Save a puppy from a burning building. Rather than see the world in terms of ranking and competition, choose to see the world in terms of compatibility and incompatibility. Then take it on as your job to find the compatibility.

Still single? Love YourselfTry it for a month and see what happens.

I realize it’s not easy. But that’s kind of the point. Being an emotionally functional human adult is actually a difficult endeavor. But if you want to date an emotionally functional human adult, then you need to be an emotionally functional human adult. It’s a radical idea, I know.

You Have Absurd Expectations

There are two new dating stereotypes that have cropped up this generation. They are:

  1. The man who is fat, balding, underemployed, anti-social, unhygienic, who decorates his apartment with his collection of original, mint-condition, Star Wars action figures (all in fighting poses), who spends his weekends engrossed in Manga comic books and internet porn, and who is then perpetually frustrated that every woman he likes is somehow unable to appreciate all of his amazing qualities. He then comes to the conclusion that—obviously—there’s something horribly wrong with the women in the world.
  2. The fashionable, beautiful, 30-something, career woman who wants to settle down, but despite having dates lined up every night of the week, she laments that there are “no good men out there.” The last man she dated was an accountant, played racquetball, and spoke French. But she dumped him because he had bad fingernails and didn’t want to go to business school. The man before that won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, but she dumped him because chemistry is such an impractical profession anyway—I mean, really, get a clue!

The man feels entitled to date anyone despite the fact that he brings basically nothing to the table in an intimate/sexual relationship. The woman brings something to the table, but feels entitled to date someone who brings everything to the table in an intimate/sexual relationship. Both are terribly delusional in regards to their dating expectations.

These flavors of delusional expectations come down to perfection—people who expect perfection in others and people who expect others to acknowledge the perfection in themselves. It’s debatable which is more insufferable.

Of course, these absurd expectations occur in each gender and take on many forms. I once met a woman who was unhealthy and overweight and, with a straight face, stated that she would only consider dating a man if he had six-pack abs (unsurprisingly, she was still single). I had a friend in college who once dumped a woman he had been crazy about because her taste in movies made it impossible for him to respect her opinions.

There are people who assume that any sort of disagreement or argument signals a deathly incompatibility and a future of pure misery, so they end it. Then there are people who expect the opposite sex to fall down and beg for their attention and affection and then get genuinely pissed off and vicious when they don’t. There are people who think that because you shared a chicken basket and watched a Tom Hanks movie together, you’re now owed a phone call every single day and if that phone call doesn’t come they go on a screaming tirade.

Learn to appreciate some people’s imperfections. Learn to appreciate and improve upon your own. Otherwise you’re going to be single (and angry) for a very long time.

You Haven’t Developed the Skills for Intimacy

A lot of people are great “on paper” daters. What I mean by that is that they go on dates regularly. They’re attractive, attentive, have good jobs, interesting skills and hobbies. They do the dinner conversations, they laugh in the right places, they talk about their lives, their families, their careers, their aspirations, their dog’s strange bathroom habits. They nail everything and yet…

… nobody sticks around.

Eventually, the phone stops ringing, the lame excuses pop up, or the ubiquitous, “We should just be friends” comes out.

Ultimately, dating and finding a partner is an emotional process. People like this get the surface-level behaviors right, but they never engage the depth of their emotions and connect where the real life is. It’s like the difference between composing a concerto on piano and simply performing somebody else’s concerto.

Generating intimacy in a relationship requires emotional investment and vulnerability. That means you need to open up about yourself in ways that may not be completely comfortable. It means exposing yourself. It requires you to share opinions and values that may polarize people and generate rejections. It requires you to be bold and take risks in going after what you want.

To generate emotional intimacy with others, one must open up and discover the emotions within oneself. In our culture today, sexual/romantic relationships are objectified. They’re treated as boxes on a checklist or entries on a resume. They’re seen as an exchange of time, information and bodily fluids.

How NOT to generate intimacy on a date.
How NOT to generate intimacy on a date. Especially with such a craptastic phone. What is this, 1998?

But intimacy is something that happens organically through the mutual expression of emotions and values. It’s a box that can’t be checked. It’s a resume that can’t be filled in. It’s unconscious and personal and unnameable. And one cannot generate that deep intimacy if one is not open to those deep emotions and values within oneself.