Being single is great – but only if you want to be. It's not so much fun when you're fed up with dinner for one and can't understand why no-one wants to go out with you. What's keeping you unattached while everyone else gets loved up? Here are 10 habits that could be to blame.
1. First-move phobia
Being born male does not gift men with unassailable self-confidence. Men know that they’re supposed to do the running, and they hate it. If you want a date, go and chat him up. He’ll be too delighted to say anything other than “wow, yes!”
By the way, making eye contact with a guy is not the same as “making a move.” Eye contact, no matter how flirtatious you think it is, won't get you very far unless you accompany it with “hello.”
2. Playing hard to get
If you want a man to be interested in you, be interested in him. It works, because all human beings are egomaniacs at heart. Treating ‘em mean only makes ‘em go and find someone else.
You know when someone's trying to ask you out, so don't come over all coy in the misguided belief that it'll make you more alluring. If a handsome stranger asks, “are you all right for a drink?”, he is interested. Don’t just nod, blush, and run away expecting him to follow you. If you find him attractive, accept his offer and strike up a conversation.
When you've been on a date, don't be scared to pick up the phone. Whoever told you to wait for three days (or whatever random number of days) before returning a phone call is an idiot. No man wants a stalker, but letting him know you’re interested is the way to win his heart.
3. Romantic perfectionism
If you wait around for love at first sight, you may be waiting for a very long time. Lust at first sight happens all the time, but it ain’t love until you’ve shared a bathroom. Don’t wait around for that thunderbolt of first-glance love, because you’ll be waiting – and single – for a very long time indeed.
If you have a very narrow idea of your “ideal man”, you may never find someone who lives up to your fantasy. Here’s a revolutionary idea: try a man who’s completely different from your ideal. You may end up surprised – and a lot less single.
4. Appearance insecurity
Don't ruin your social life by cancelling plans every time you get a zit that no man will ever notice because he’s too busy looking at your breasts or (if he was brought up very well, your eyes). Avoid wearing too much make-up, too. The natural look is much more appealing to men than a trowelling of slap. Too much facepaint makes you look desperate, and that’s never a good look when you’re trying to impress.
Similarly, don't let your waistline fixation spoil a romantic meal. A tasty dessert shared with your date could seal the deal on your evening, and it’s unlikely to make a difference to your weight unless you have a date every night this week.
5. Bad man-choices
Fear of being single often drives you to accept dates – and more dates – with men you don’t really fancy. Trouble is, while you’re wasting precious time with Mr OK-I-Suppose, you could be out finding Mr Right.
Or do you head straight past Mr OK-I-Suppose and hand your precious breakable heart to Mr Toxic? He comes in many guises: the serial online dating addict who never takes his profile down; the self-esteem leech who can’t stop criticising; the rebounder who uses you as a cushion after his break-up… they grab women's hearts, take them on a romantic rollercoaster ride for a few weeks, then smash those hearts to pieces. One minute you're dizzy with lust, the next you're devastated. And very, very single.
6. Low tiff tolerance
Do you run away from a relationship as soon as the going gets slightly shouty? While we'd never advocate hanging onto an unhappy relationship, do remember that no relationship can be perfectly happy all the time. Boyfriends are not perfect, relationships are not perfect, and the road to happiness is strewn with ups and downs.
No really, do not mention your ex on a date. Perhaps you were with him for years and he plays a walk-on part in all your anecdotes, but you must break the ex-namecheck habit if you’re to impress a potential lover. Even a passing mention of your previous man suggests that you haven’t moved on.
The guy you're hoping to meet doesn't live under your sideboard, so if you want a relationship you're going to have to get out and start meeting people. Maybe you're constantly tired or ridiculously busy at work, but if you want a relationship, you need to make time for a social life.
Men can smell your desperation from half a mile away. If you feel the need to ring him up on your way home from your first date, it had better be to answer his missed call.
10. Relationship resistance
Are you happy, fulfilled and busy with your work, home and friends? Do you find that the occasional fling satisfies your need for lust and male attention? Congratulations, you have a great life – now stop reading articles about why you're still single! Not everyone is cut out to be one half of a couple, and a relationship is not a compulsory element of a happy life. If you keep dipping a toe into dating but never quite feel comfortable with it, perhaps you're better off single after all.