Why do you think some people are perpetually single?

I just read an article (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/28/relationship-virgin-never-boyfriend-single?CMP=fb_gu) written by a self-proclaimed “relationship virgin” – someone who, at 54 years old, has yet to be in a romantic relationship. It got me thinking, as I have known a few people who are either relationship virgins or close to it (their last romantic relationship was ten years ago, or some story like that).

Now, first of all, I want to apologize if this post comes across as judgmental or insensitive. It’s a behavior pattern that I’m curious about, and I’m wondering if anyone has observed certain behavioral patterns that coincide with singleness.

In my experience, one of two things is usually going on:

(1) The person is not in a position of self-sufficiency. I have known some great, attractive guys who stayed single for long periods of time because they lived in their parents basement, or they seriously struggled with finding a job. (Now granted, sometimes not being able to find a job is indicative of poor social skills, since most jobs require an interview, but in at least one case I can think of, the friend was simply struggling because he was not a citizen of the country he lived in. In his case, I think his citizenship was hindering him.)

(2) The person is unable to converse outside of his/her range of interests. I can think of a few people who enjoy telling me about their lives and interests, but have very poor conversational skills when it comes to asking about how my life is going, or showing interest in something outside of what they already know and have studied extensively. In this case, I imagine that when they go on dates, they have trouble forming a good connection since they don’t show a lot of interest in their dates and instead want to talk about themselves.

Does this jibe with other people’s experiences? Does anyone else have any thoughts to share?

Oh, one final note: There are people out there who proclaim that they love being single and wouldn’t have it any other way. But in my personal experience, I’ve encountered that attitude more from people who have been single for a few months, maybe a year or two. I have not encountered anyone who has been single for years who earnestly had absolutely no interest in finding a romantic partner.

(1) doesn’t make sense to me. Being self-sufficient (earning enough to live comfortably on my own) would be a plus to remaining single and not needing anyone else’s support. Full disclosure – I do live in a house with my father but not because I need to. I pay rent and could support myself just fine.

Then again, I’ve been single for decades and don’t have an interest in finding a romantic partner. :slight_smile:

Some people are basically paralyzed with shyness. So a guy might talk to a girl–but never be so forward as to ask her for a date.

Virtually all relationships involve conflict. Some people are strongly conflict-averse.

The several people who I know who might meet the “perpetually single” criteria are all entirely self-sufficient. Additionally, they have lots of friends and are very much able to carry on conversations on many topics. So, my experience, in those aspects, is the opposite of yours.

As far as “love being single” goes, I don’t think any of them profess to “love being single” but I don’t think any of the are desperately looking for romantic partners either.

I’ve had 2 romantic relationships in my life. Both over 10 years ago.

I just generally don’t like the kinds of things that are necessary to make new relationships with strangers. If someone were to come into my life and wanted to date me without me actively pursuing them and them being fine with all my social quirks, then I wouldn’t be all that opposed. But I am opposed to the idea of actively trying to find a romantic partner that I don’t already know. Add to the fact that I’ve been told that I’m not welcome in various social situations because my personality is rather off-putting to those who don’t know me, and I don’t really have much of a chance to meet anyone randomly. I personally don’t care one bit that I don’t socialize all that much and that I don’t have a romantic partner. It really doesn’t bug me one bit, and to be honest I quite loathed the times that I had one due to the expectation of spending all of one’s free time with them.

I’m almost inclined to ask the opposite; what drives people to relationship failure after failure, until the pile of relationship corpses almost blocks out the sun!

Part of it for me, I guess, was rejecting the movie version of life, and recognising life is usually a series of limited relationships. If one sticks then it’s generally through the child-growing years but the couple mostly still lead somewhat distinct lives.

That early connection buzz is really nice but, after a few times, it’s a hefty price to pay for the long, slow, decline and disillusionment :slight_smile:

And the whole marriage thing, really, religion found a role in the conduct of society, but we should be a little past that by now.

There’s an old joke about this:

An architect, an artist and an engineer were discussing whether it was better to spend time with the wife or a mistress. The architect said he enjoyed time with his wife, building a solid foundation for an enduring relationship.

The artist said he enjoyed time with his mistress, because of the passion and mystery he found there.

The Engineer said, “I like both. If you have a wife and a mistress, they will each assume you are spending time with the other woman, and you can go to the lab and get some work done.”

Well, in spite of what some may think, being in a paired relationship is not automatically the default. I know a number of people who were formerly married or in a relationship and are now quite happily single. As you get older, it is nice to be able to do what you want without interference, I suppose.

In addition, I can appreciate that the steps to establishing a relationship can be daunting for some. There are many hurdles and potential failure points. When do you push forward, when do you pull back, what does that signal mean, what are the “rules” with this person? Not everyone is wired to succeed in that arena, in spite of how successful they may be in other social expectations.

For someone who has not experienced those struggles, looking at it from the outside, it can be hard to fathom. But like so much else in life, people are not all the same.

Maybe I’m misreading the OP, but I interpreted the “self-sufficiency” comment as an explanation for why the “self-insufficient” person isn’t getting any offers, not for why they aren’t seeking any.

But even if I’m wrong, I can still see why a person who hasn’t gotten their act together wouldn’t be looking for a romantic relationshp. It’s kind of hard to feel like you have much to offer when you don’t have a job, you’re living in your parents’ basement, and you don’t have anything interesting to talk about except for all the daytime talk shows you watch while everyone else is in school or at work.

Rhiannon8404 hit the nail on the head. I personally love being single (don’t care if no one believes me), but I’m guessing the vast majority of “forever alone” folks just accept it for what it is, neither hating it or loving it. You can get used to anything if you give it enough time. Also, most people have unfufilled goals and desires, but they manage just fine. I would love to make a million dollars a year, but it’s not like I’m about to fling myself off a cliff over my current salary. Perhaps if I were broke, I’d feel differently. Similarly, a romatic relationship is not the only relationship a person can have. Having sex with someone you’re dating or married to isn’t the only way to release that sexual tension.

Personally, I only have negative feelings about my single status when I’m around people who can’t talk about anything else or people who give me a hard time about not being interested. Like folks who accuse me of lying when I say I love being single.

I would say all relationships involve “risk” (of rejection). And repeated rejection makes it harder and harder to keep trying.

A lot of being able to take such risks involves self confidence. And being rejected, particularly when all your friends keep encouraging you and telling you how “great” you are, makes you really question whether you are “worthy” or “desirable” or whatever to be in a relationship. So it can become this vicious cycle: the more you try, the worse you feel about yourself, so you are less and less apt to convince the other person you are worth being with.

I think a number of “perpetually single” people just get tired of this cycle…and move on to other things in their life. Pursuing a relationship gets lowered in priority, and may just fall by the wayside. Which, if the person has a happy and fulfilling life, that’s completely fine ! (What makes it a bitch is that society places SUCH a high value on “being with someone” that you then have to fend off all this pressure from others, and the stigma of “being single”)

Thanks for the responses so far.

First of all, for people who have been single for a long time and love it that way – that’s great, and I can see why you’d feel the need to defend that decision based on the wording of the OP. My question here is not why some people choose to be single, but why some people who DON’T choose to be single are, because I’ve had some friends pose the question of “Why can’t I find the partner?”, and I often feel like there is something about them that’s rather – unattractive, but still likable as a person. But it’s hard to put my finger on what exactly that is, or to put it into words.

monstro, yes, you are interpreting the OP as I intended. gigi, you have a point that some people who are not self-sufficient specifically look for a partner to help them out of their situations, so sometimes that doesn’t hold true. But as **monstro **alluded to, I think some people do want to get out of their situations themselves, and are loathe to enter into a relationship before they do so because they’ll feel “unequal” to their partner until they’ve improved their own circumstances.

And finally, I think several of you make an excellent point in that dating requires a certain amount of risk-taking and putting one’s self in uncomfortable situations, and that for some people the discomfort associated with finding a partner is too much. I think some likable but unattractive people I’ve met have been friendly, accommodating, agreeable people who perhaps dislike controversy to the point that they might have trouble being assertive enough in the opening dance of a relationship.

Some people are just unattractive. It’s not their fault, necessarily, but it’s just true. They want to be in a relationship but can’t find a partner who wants them, due to their being unattractive. This can often be relative - a man who makes $50k a year in a poor or average neighborhood might be thought of as a catch, but that same guy might be unwanted in a neighborhood of millionaires. A woman’s beauty, too, is often viewed relative to that of the women around her.
Some people are genuinely happy being single for a long time, even for life. They aren’t looking for a relationship because they don’t want one.
Some people are victims of a gender imbalance. Take China, for instance, where there are many tens of millions more men than women. Mathematically, there are going to be lots of single, unhappy, frustrated men. There are also other regions in the world where women significantly outnumber men or vice versa.
Some people don’t know what it takes to start a relationship, or how to do it. They feel that “it just happens, and it must be around the corner.”
Some people do want a relationship, but have extremely demanding standards or criteria that their hypothetical partner must meet - so narrowly so that only a few, out of thousands of otherwise eligible mates, could possibly meet them. This causes them to be partner-less for a long time.
Some people wait too long, and most of the “good” men or women are already taken.

It’s bad, but not that bad. It’s supposed to be at ~30M in the year 2020, but I wouldn’t call that “many tens of millions” since 3 is not usually thought of as being many.

I don’t know if this is so reduced that it’s meaningless, but my answer has always been that they want something else more than they want to be in a relationship. To live alone, to be their own masters, to be free to pursue their work or hobbies, or on the other end of things to nurture insecurities, to not take the trouble of putting themselves out there. . .whatever.

They’re different from people who are unable to* maintain *a long-term relationship, despite apparently wanting to. I think those people generally have problems outside their own control.

Are you also suspicious of people who are never single because of constantly jumping from one relationship to another?

I stand corrected, I thought it was 90 million.

Makes sense, thanks!

I’m single and wish for a romantic partner. But the way I see it I am riddled with flaws and things that some would consider to be flaws:
-not handsome
-in forties
-doesn’t cook
-doesn’t keep house well
-not mechanical or handy
-not great with kids (I think)
-doesn’t like animals (especially dogs (phobic))
-doesn’t like sports, even to watch
-doesn’t dance
-doesn’t smoke
-doesn’t drink
-doesn’t do drugs
-doesn’t travel much
-collects legos
-collects transformers
-likes anime
-likes to talk about my silly interests

The way I see it is, while there might be any number of women who could deal with any number of the above attributes, there’s a hell of a lot of circles in that venn diagram and the set of women who aren’t excluded or driven off by any of the above is probably reduced to about three women total, all of whom are already married.

I’ve given up. I’m gonna die alone and unloved.
ETA: Oh, by the way, I’m totally self-sufficient. Doesn’t seem to matter - the longest relationship I had was while I was living at my parents’ between jobs. (That died because I was persistently atheist - a problematic fact in this area.)

I’m a relationship virgin as you say for a number of reasons:

As a Jehovah’s Witness, I was raised to believe that the man is the head of the family, and as the wife, I would be in subjection to my husband. This was sugar-coated in a few ways, such as a “fragile vessel is assigned honor as the weaker vessel” meaning a fragile vessel is more valuable than a bucket say, or some other analogical window-dressing. I could never reconcile myself to subjugation to a man just because he is a man. I’ll subjugate myself to a work superior, or a law enforcement official, or a parent. But I would never subjugate myself to someone who is supposedly my peer or partner in life. Especially so, if he is my superior through no act of his own except that he was born with a penis.

Because of the situation I have just described, plus my determination never to have children, I resolved myself to be celibate. If I had a regular sexual relationship, I reasoned that birth control could not be 100% full-proof, and abortion was out of the question. So if contraception failed, I would be compelled to carry the resulting child to term, and put it up for adoption. Yes, I thought about the situation that thoroughly, and decided to be celibate, and I am.

I have never regretted the decision, and now that I am coming up on post-menopause, and some of my standards have changed, I don’t know what the future may hold. I am reasonably certain that I will remain celibate, because I am so used to that being my circumstance. But I am no longer a fundamentalist. And I wouldn’t mind company for some things.

However, what little experience I have had in relationships are not memories I cherish. I was never treated by the opposite sex with any dignity or respect, save the common courtesies. The rest was sexual harassment, and impatience. “I bought you a burger, now put out” type of stuff. Guys who didn’t bother getting out of the fucking car before the groping and sucking started.

Love, to be honest, has never meant more to me than duties and obligations. Doing favors for friends, taking care of sick and ailing parents, caring for animals. And to be more honest, I always put way more in than I ever got out, except perhaps monetarily. So no, I am not actively looking for a relationship. I have enough work to do without piling more on.

Perhaps it could be different, but I only say that because I’m trying to be more positive this year.

There are lots of reasons people remain single.

[li]No social network to meet single people (or you’ve reached an age where most decent people are already taken). [/li][li]Atrocious social skills[/li][li]They aren’t physically attractive[/li][li]They have issues with intimacy and closeness[/li][li]mental illness or psychological problems[/li][li]They are impossible to deal with after you get to know them (nobody wants an actual relationship to them, even if they are physically attractive). [/li][/ul]

etc. Those are the main reasons I tend to see though.