Single women and relationships: Fear of never finding 'the one'
One of the issues that can bring women in their late 20's and their 30's to therapy, is relationships and the lack of what they feel is a suitable partner in their lives. In particular, there can be a concern and anxiety about their ability to find 'the one' and a fear that time is running out, particularly if they really want to have children. This can be very difficult and painful, especially if many of their friends are now married and have even had children, and they are feeling isolated and left behind.
When working on these issues, whilst each of us is different and there are often many areas of exploration, there are also a number of common fears which can include the following:
- fear of ending up alone
- fear of never having children
- fear of not being good enough
- fear of being unlovable
- fear of getting it wrong and choosing the wrong person
The problem with fear is that it can paralyse us and keep us stuck. Whilst it can also overwhelm us and make it difficult to see the situation objectively. If fear and anxiety align, we often fixate on what we perceive as the worst case scenario and find it difficult to believe there is an alternative.
The role of the therapist then, can be to support, to help untangle all of these emotions and thought processes, and to provide a fresh and alternative perspective to consider. Many clients may feel as though they have lost all hope of finding a partner, but actually, the fact they have decided to see a therapist indicates that they do want things to be different and some hope still exists. The therapist is able to work with that hope, alongside the reality of the situation, holding the possibility that things can potentially change, and working out the best ways to try and initiate that change - both practically in terms of putting themselves in situations where they might meet someone, but also personally, creating change in how they perceive things and what it is they are projecting to the world about themselves.
Additionally, it can be important to work with clients perceptions of who or what they are looking for. Many of us have an idealised view of 'the one', this perfect partner who matches us in every way. Often it is this idealism which is getting in the way of meeting someone, because there isn't enough openness and flexibility and too many potential partners are easily rejected without being given a chance.
In no way am I suggesting that people should settle for someone just for the sake of being in a relationship, far from it. We do need to find someone who is a good fit. However, to achieve this, we often do need to become a bit more open, adjusting our ideals somewhat, learning to compromise, and recognising that no relationships are perfect. So, it can be helpful to work with clients to examine and identify what their core values are, and to consider what kind of qualities they feel are most important to them in a potential partner and why - encouraging them to focus more on this, rather than on the long list of requirements they may have originally had.
Of course this doesn't guarantee that a suitable partner will materialise. However, if we are less fearful, more open to possibilities, and more optimistic and hopeful, we will feel better about things. And as a result, the likelihood of meeting someone may increase because we are more likely to take advantage of and/or create opportunities and situations that could lead to this happening.