Ah the Christmas season, that time of year for time with friends and family. If you are single, also the time of year for awkward questions. Ah the lovely, ‘Are you single? Why?’

Typically, I’m good at side stepping awkward questions. This year I decided this was one question I was going to answer and actually ask my single friends (just privately and with the knowledge I was asking for the purpose of understanding more about how people’s minds work.)

After being asked this question and verbally processing it with an almost complete stranger, I polled men and women I know to gain more perspective on why people are single.

Once past the superficial answers we all usually use to bypass this question, I found my friends answers varied and fascinating but common themes emerged.

1) Timing. The timing isn’t right. Timing is everything with singlehood. Finances aren’t where they need to be. Living situation not quite ideal. Left over baggage from another relationship weighing things down. Or just not the right thing at the right time. Facing the facts, the right person will be the right person at the right time. If it’s the wrong time with the right person, they will be the right person when the time is right.

2) Pursuit. Not all singles want to be in relationship. Some not ever and some not right now. A relationship has to be pursued and cultivated. It takes two people wanting a relationship and going after it. People are only as available as they choose to be. Most of my friends claiming this (myself included) are highly motivated and ambitious and busy with something else which means the love life is on the back burner until it isn’t anymore. When and why does that change? Beats me, I just live here, when I find out I’ll let you know.

3) Wounded. Sadly I’m pretty sure everyone I talked to had been wounded at some point. Some are open to love again and others… Not so much. There is no time frame for healing, there’s no schedule for sudden relapse. The closer one gets to a new relationship the more old injuries hurt. I’ve been there, I’ve frozen out of fear and bolted from relationship. Time, patience, self reflection and cutting yourself and others slack while healing is the only cure. If it can patch me up you’ll make it, just not today and that’s totally ok.

4) Partnership. In 12 minutes most of us know if we would date someone and if it would be good (says Psychology Today and most of us agreed.) We had met people we knew we wouldn’t date and some we knew we would if the above noted things were in line. What made that determination? The person would be a good team mate, attractive, share our life goals, mindset and passions. What separated out the ones we do date from the ones we don’t? The person would contribute equally to a relationship. No one wants to be with someone who puts in less than their fair share. Put in less, get friend zoned.

5)Initiation/Reciprocation. Someone has to make a move. For whatever reason, a good percentage of us struggled on this. Too scared to make a move or unsure how to respond. Playing ‘Are We, Aren’t We’ is entertaining but eventually somebody has to grow a pair and make a bold overture. Once the move is made, either jump in both feet or back out politely. If both feet don’t go in, friendship is never a bad thing and there is always (and I mean always) another one around the bend. If the back out happens they’re a friend and you know and can put effort into someone else. Don’t get caught up trying to change their mind, they’re a friend, the ball is in their court now to change your mind. There is nothing wrong with you if the person doesn’t want to date or you don’t want to date, it’s just not the right person or the right time. Pushing your luck always makes life entertaining and a partner who initiates and reciprocates is just plain awesome but it won’t happen if you don’t try.

Thanks to my awesome friends, who will remain anonymous, for their contribution to my thought processing. As a result, I now have a good answer when people ask: ‘Why are you single?’ I am intentionally single. When and if I locate the right partner, at the right time and we forge a reciprocal bond in shared life style and goals I’ll reconsider my position and be intentionally in a relationship. Until then I’m happy to be single for the rest of my life. Anything less isn’t a relationship, it’s a inconvenient convenience.

P.S. My personal side step for: ‘Are you single?’

 ‘Single? No, I’m independently owned and operated.’

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