I'm a Great Catch . . .So Why Am I Still Single?
A new 30-something client I'll call Caitlin began working with me in order to maximize her chances of meeting a special commitment-minded man. She had a well-paying job, her own condo, and loved the outdoors. She was a bright and charming person with good values and an optimistic nature. And she always took pride in her appearance. So where were all the men? This mystery hung in the air between us during our in-person coaching sessions as we explored in depth Caitlin's lifestyle, routines, goals, and dreams. What Caitlin and I eventually uncovered in our work together was that, despite her many attributes, she was not really available to men because she was already hitched . . .to her mother! They spoke for at least 1/2 hour every day, traveled to exotic locales together and knew everything about each other's personal business. Like an old married couple, they anticipated one another's needs and relied on that relationship exclusively. Once I heard more family history, Caitlin's over-involvement with mom started to make sense: When she was growing up, Caitlin's family had moved around often due to her father's career in the military. Caitlin was an only child, and she and her mother were frequently thrown into unfamiliar environments together in which they had to start over, as it were; quite logically, they turned to one another for companionship and support.
But what had begun as an understandable adaptation to circumstances had become, in Caitlin's adulthood, a restrictive habit that prevented her from forming intimate connections with others.
Once Caitlin became more aware of how her reliance upon her mother was stunting her personal growth, she began to make conscious efforts to seek out alternative companionship.
At first, it felt weird to resist having those long daily phoners and sharing everything with mom.
And she had to be able to tolerate her mother's initial hurt and displeasure with her new-found independence -- a big adjustment for both women. But it got easier for Caitlin over time, and the more she pushed herself to break old habits in favor of novel unfamiliar experiences, the more new people -- including eligible men -- came into her life.
Caitlin is now in a serious stable relationship that seems to be heading down the aisle!
For more examples of stories like Caitlin's, you might wish to read Chapter 8 of my book, "How to Get Married After 35: A User's Guide to Getting to the Altar."