If you're single and wondering why, Sara Eckel wants to help. Author of the book It's Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You're Single, Eckel didn't find her mate until she was 39.
"Before I met my husband, Mark, I was really losing hope," said Eckel, a freelance writer who has been with her husband for eight years (they've been married for four). "And once I got through the pain of accepting that I might not ever meet someone, then I sort of relaxed and thought, 'All right, this is my life and I might as well just enjoy it.' And I wound up meeting my husband."
Eckel added that many single people blame their insecurities for their solo state — a belief that society often encourages. But everybody, married or single, has insecurities, Eckel says. Honestly embracing your flaws will actually help you attract the right mate.
"My husband and I will ask each other on a nearly daily basis, 'Do you still love me?' And sometimes it's followed up with, 'Are you sure?' And the thing is we both need the validation to hear the other person loves us," she said. "If one of us was more secure it would be really annoying. But because we're both like that, it's not really a problem."
The following is an edited version of our conversation.
Q: What theories about being single are out there that you disagree with?
A: I think for women, the idea that being too intimidating or too independent could somehow harm your chances of finding a partner because you are invested in your career — as if we only do one thing at a time in our life. ... I always find that idea really odd. Are you supposed to quit your job and go on unemployment and move in with your parents? Does that make you more attractive? I don't think so.
Q: What are your thoughts on people who are so afraid to be alone that they stay with the wrong person?
A: It takes a certain kind of strength to be on your own versus being with the wrong (person). ... I've been in relationships that were not quite right, and while it's nice to have a date to the family reunion or to take to that cocktail party, there's always going to be that moment when you're home and you feel lonely in that relationship. Or you'll feel a sense of not feeling completely understood. To me, that was not worth it, and the difficulties of being on my own were less difficult than feeling that hollowness.
But we don't really get much credit for taking that courageous step of putting yourself out in the world as a single person. There's much more encouragement to make it work and stick it out — and make that relationship right.
Q: Do you think there's somebody out there for everybody?
A: I think there's lots of people out there for everybody. The challenge is: Will you meet them? As much as you can go out into the world and try, there's never a guarantee that you will meet the person who is the right fit for you, but I think that they're certainly out there.
Q: Do you believe in going with your gut?
A: Yes. There's a Buddhist concept that talks about the fact that you are the only person who has been with you your whole life. ... So you are the authority on your life. It's not magic that we have good instincts, but we're absorbing data all the time about who we are and what works for us. ... Especially now with so much information out there, we tend to lose sight of our own internal wisdom.
Q: What would you tell someone who thinks there's something wrong with them?
A: For anyone who asks themselves, "What's wrong with me?" I would suggest that they flip it around and (ask), "What's right with me? Obviously I'm strong enough that I haven't gotten into the wrong relationship." And perhaps you're still single because you know what you're doing. That person hasn't come along yet but that doesn't mean that they won't - it just means you have been exercising good judgment up to this point.