Friday night is looming and you are really looking forward to it. A long soak in the bath, a good book and bed. On your own. For the 10th Friday night in a row. You've been single for too long.
Let's face it – relationships are not for everyone. Through the ages there have always been people who are better off and happier on their own.
Take my neighbour as an example. On his own, he's happy, he cooks and cleans, he goes out and does interesting things and has friends over. But the minute he gets involved, he becomes a snivelling wreck, waiting by the phone. He does things like forgetting his washing in the machine for three days, and that Wednesday is garbage day. He forgets about his friends – what if he organises something and then she calls? He becomes an obsessive loner focused only on this one relationship. Which is precisely why none of them last. Anyone would swear he learnt all his relationship tricks from a heart-lung machine.
But then there's a large chunk of the rest of humanity. Getting out there and doing the relationship thing takes courage and effort and the willingness to risk looking a bit silly when things go wrong, as they often do.
What are the signs that you have been single for too long - apart from extreme sexual frustration?
Avoiding new people. In your twenties you were out there meeting new people by the day – on campus, in clubs, at the beach, friends of friends. But these days, new people feel like hard work. The effort of making new friends is getting a bit much. So what do you do? You see the same five people over and over again. Comfort zone, for sure, but let's face it, you're not going to find a partner among them. If it hasn't happened in 10 years, it's not going to happen now.
Growing menagerie. When you're constantly on the move doing the social circuit and going away for weekends, cats, dogs and other pets generally don't feature very prominently in your life. A demanding menagerie cannot just be left at a moment's notice. If your pets have started to increase in number, that's all very well, as long as they have not become an emotional substitute for a partner. Or an excuse never to go away for weekends.
Unwillingness to take risks. New things have a threatening feel to them. When friends suggest you start yoga classes with them, or learn to skydive, or join an online dating agency, or go clubbing, your instinctive reaction is to refuse or think up excuses. You're still smarting from your last relationship that ended on a sour note seven years ago and you're not about to take any chances. Let's face it, your perfect partner is not going to come knocking on your door. You have to go out looking for him/her.
Being rigid. Sudden changes of plan irritate you no end. If you thought you were going to to the coast for the weekend with five people, you're completely thrown if you find out two days before you go, that plans have changed and you're actually heading for the mountains – and the one couple is taking their toddler. Kids drive you crazy. As do things people do differently from you – slicing onions, hanging washing, doing the dishes. It's time to lighten up a little and to stop trying to control everything. Other people have the right to do things their way, too. That's not just your prerogative.
Video vunderland. Without you as a constant customer, the video store on the corner would experience a serious slump in their turnover. Your idea of a blind date is taking out a video you've never heard of. In fact, you're pretty sure that you've seen just about everything in the store – including the schlock horror movies and everything with Rowan Atkinson in it. Your idea of a romantic evening is one spent at home, on your own, with a fire, the cat and the remote. It may be time to expand your social boundaries a bit.
No new clothes. Think about it. When last did you spend some real money on clothes that looked good on you? In fact, when last did you think of getting a new hairstyle, trying out a new colour combination for your summer wardrobe or spent real money on things like moisturisers? You don't just work to pay the bond and the car installments and the vet bills. Use some of that money to join the gym or get a makeover.
Domestic bliss. Tiling your bathroom and putting up new guttering take precedence over the sudden walking tour through the south of France or a 4X4 journey down the East Coast of Africa that your friends have planned on a whim. In fact, while it is never a good idea to neglect your property, sudden exciting holidays could do a lot to lift your spirits. You might meet someone great in Zanzibar, after all. Learn to live a little.
Early to bed. An early night is your idea of total bliss. While continuous late nights are not a good idea for anyone, even energetic 19-year-olds, if you're in bed by 9 pm every night, you're never going to meet anyone. Accept that dinner party or beach picnic invitation, even if it means that you'll only get home by midnight. And, very importantly, say you're not available when the office is looking for someone to do emergency shifts over weekends and holidays.
Wild spending. If you spend half your money on a fancy motorbike or an expensive hobby, you're obviously not planning on getting involved soon. Having a relationship costs money, which you don't have if you're buckling under monthly repayments. Only determinedly single people will consider buying top-of-the-range second vehicles or extra golf clubs they can't really afford.
Too much time with Mom. Especially if we get on well with parents, we tend to spend quite a bit of time in their company. But if you find you're eating at your parents' home every second evening and spending Saturday nights watching TV with Mom, you've been single for too long. In order to meet people, you need to be out there doing things – at least every now and then.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, February 2012)
(Picture: Woman watching tv from Shutterstock)