Barriers to finding a Great Relationship

Here are the most common barriers I see in singles wanting to find a relationship

I just can’t find “the one” for me

The myth of “the one” has a lot to answer for in modern life and love. It is a wonderfully appealing and intriguing idea that “out there, somewhere, waiting for you is THAT person, the one that the book of destiny has written into this life FOR YOU”. It’s that stuff that fantasy romance novels and films are built upon.

Whilst no one can refute this as a possibility, the reality is that too many people spend too long waiting for “the magic” to happen. Some people even wait until it is too late to have the relationship and family that they desire.

A lifetime of relationship happiness is actually a clever combination of chemistry and practicality, not magic (that’s the chemistry working). The important thing to remember is that chemistry is a short-term phenomena cleverly imbedded into our DNA to encourage us to procreate. Intoxicants in saliva (exchanged while kissing) and released during sex help create the magical feelings we call “falling in love”.

Effective long-term relationships certainly benefit from early feelings of physical attraction and psychological connection, but real long-term success comes from consistent communication, negotiation and collaboration. Really! What is more ore important than waiting for “the magic to happen” is knowing what kind of life you want for yourself. Do you want wealth and stability? Travel and excitement? Broad and interesting social networks? A big family or no family at all!

Keeping in mind that the ever-so-popular surface-level trappings of good looks, hot bodies and bling just cannot stand the test of time, what kind of attributes do you really want a lifelong partner to have?

Write them down, stick them on your mirror and make these the filter through which you actively seek out (and then screen out!) prospective partners.

Now you are on track to follow your feelings into a successful long-term future.

All the good ones are already taken (or gay)

Sometimes it seems as if you can’t find anyone worth spending time with. Unfortunately, most of us tend to get caught in a routine of mixing with the same work and social circles, meeting the same old people.

Bars and clubs are other ways to meet people, but tend to be random, alcohol driven and more likely to lead to short-term sexual relationships than anything meaningful and long-term.

The hot-topic of the Internet generation is “internet dating”. This also tends to be quite random in who you meet, even if a computer program does calculate that you are a “match”. The short version of this otherwise very long discussion is: it works for some people (I have friends who met and married using online dating) and not for others (I have many friends and clients who say “I just don’t like it”). There is also the matter of which online dating service you use – from the free “browse for a quick hook-up” services; to the higher investment “I’m serious about meeting someone serious” services.

Internet or no, it does come down to knowing what you like and knowing want you want. With a clear list of likes and wants, for yourself, in another person and in a relationship, you can begin to identify activities, groups and places where you are more likely to meet people who meet your criteria. This is also likely to get you excited again about things that you had otherwise become too busy for – art, craft, drama, learning another language, cooking, etc, etc!

From there it’s simple (but not necessarily easy!):

1. Sign up and do it – show up somewhere new!

2. Say, “hi”. Over and over again. Yes, just say, “hi”.

3. Don’t compromise on what you want. If the other person doesn’t fit your wants and needs, screen them out and move on. Every relationship that you have that you know (deep down) really isn’t going anywhere is ruining your chances of finding a relationship that is.

I can’t seem to meet the kind of person that I like

Because we tend to do the same old things with the same old people, day after day, week after week, we also tend to see the same people and meet the same sorts of people. If you are not meeting the sorts of people who inspire, excite and attract you, then it is time for a change. The sorts of people who will excite, inspire and be attractive to you will be going on i places to do things that YOU like to do. The challenge here is to think of things that you like to do, that are fun for you, that excite and interest you; and then, figure out where to go to do these things. Often this requires thinking back to your early years, before you gave up on the little things that you liked to do, to remember what it is that used to excite and inspire you. What was fun? What was that thing that you always wanted to do, but told yourself (or others told you) that you couldn’t?

A friend of mine started ballet when she was a little girl. She loved ballet and begged her mum to take her. Her mum took her to ballet, bought all the right gear, made costumes and invested a great deal of her own limited resources into her daughter’s ballet. This was great, but mum didn’t have the time, money or energy for anything else. So it became “only ballet”, and “you must do ballet because we’ve invested so much into this”. Other activities that drew my friend’s attention were “too expensive”, “too far away”, “too hard”, “too difficult” or, most simply, “you can’t do that”.

It took another 20 years to go by for a series of events to lead to my friend joining another friend at a horse-riding lesson. The memories came flooding back. She said to me, “I’ve always loved horses, I used to dream of being ‘a horsey girl'”, but in the back of my mind I’ve always had the idea that “I can’t.” “Why has it taken me 20 years of financial independence to realise ‘of course I can!'”

I keep choosing the wrong ones

Even as a teenager, I used to marvel at the incredible success that the guys I knew to be jerks and bullies had with the girls. I even remember thinking, “really? Do I have to ‘treat em mean to keep em keen?” Of course, that doesn’t work in relationships that actually succeed, but the fact remains that many of us are drawn to people who
are not actually good for us. Things that are shiny, exciting, dangerous and unattainable, are often also experienced as more desirable.

The trick here is to keep a clear distinction between lust and love. Sure, lust after something, go and get it, have it (yes, I’m talking about sex!), but don’t then get confused and think that this is about love and a happy future.

Love is additive. It feeds you, nourishes you and deepens over time. The good feelings last longer and are more enduring than the bad feelings.

Lust is addictive. Fed by our own egotistical desire to have what we think we can’t, and then by the addictive chemicals, hormones and pheromones exchanged in saliva and produced during sex, these very strong feelings can be confused with love, but tend to be dominated by short highs with longer periods of confusion, doubt and disappointment. These love-like feelings can keep you limping along In a pseudo-relationship for months or even years. Don’t waste your time. Life is too short and you are too valuable.

I can get to third base (you know) but I can’t make it last.


Much of life is lived through a “persona”, the happy, charming, confident “I’m okay” facade that each of us puts on each day to go to work or parties or whatever. We are barely aware of it, but when you think about how you are when you are just with your parents or siblings, and compare that to how you behave when you go to work you will probably note quite a difference in yourself. Most people will wear an even more refined version of this “perfect face” when they meet someone or the opposite sex who they are attracted to or when they go on a date. The trouble actually comes when this “works”.  The face is attractive, there is a good connection with the other person and, well, one thing leads to another. But that’s as far as it goes. Sometimes this can go on for months, or even years, in an ongoing series of ‘booty-calls’. But it never seems to deepen.

The problem here is that real human connection is built on experiences that most people find quite frightening: vulnerability, shame and the risk to be one’s self. The antidote, therefore, and the focus of much of the relationship coaching that I do with singles, is to feel confident enough in one’s self, to risk being one’s self. To move past the short-term need for a “human connection fix” that comes with one-night stands and booty-calls and to a more active and concerted search for “someone who I know for sure likes me for who I am”. And, of course, for someone to know you for who you are, you need to tell them and show them, and not expect them to just figure it out by themselves.

After that, the real questions become: do you like them? And, do you trust them?

Nigel Will Polak Send Me Your Message