Illustration: Rachell Sumpter
1. Am I spending too much time with the people I love?
You adore your little brother the pediatrician—and his wife. So going up to Boston for the weekend to celebrate his birthday is a delight. The same goes for spending the following Sunday at your cousin’s first dinner party. And dancing the night away with your best female friend until 4 a.m. These people are fun, kind and affectionate...and always there for you.
Which is exactly why you might reconsider how much time you spend with them. Breaking out of a tight circle of friends and family in order to peruse the buffet at your niece’s confirmation and strike up a conversation with an attractive stranger about the pigs-in-a-blankets and the inherent appeal of even the tackiest ice sculpture is difficult. Hanging out with people you love is comforting. I understand this. In fact, I am the married woman who wants nothing more than to laugh my head off all night over by the chocolate fondue with my many stunning, intelligent single friends. But this is why I’m writing this article: because I want you to know all the things I’ve been thinking about for years—years I spent both with and without a partner. You must dump me. You must walk away from me and my marshmallow on a stick. Falling in love is a risk, one that for better or for worse, must be taken alone.
2. When it comes to the tough questions, why do I lack answers?
As any single person knows, close friends and family try to help you by asking you a lot of questions, like: Why are you so picky? What do you want? These inquiries may cause you to stay up at night, wondering why you are so picky or what you want exactly...because you don’t know why or what. You'll feel more and more unsure about yourself, and keep circling around these issues.
Here’s my thought: If you don’t know the answer to these kinds of questions, then...you aren’t picky and you don’t need to know what you want. These subjects don't set off any fire alarms in your soul. They don’t apply to you. Throw them away.
Whereas, if a friend ask you: “Why do you always end up with the guy who disappoints?” and you suddenly want to punch her and hug her at the same time—because you’re so embarrassed, because it’s so true, because you’re too intimidated to approach the right guys, because your brother always called you horse face, because you still think of yourself as clumsy and awkward and wrong, even though junior high is long over and you’re successful and (other people say) attractive. Then you need to do some thinking. And then some rethinking.
The questions that help you build bridges to intimacy are the ones that you have one, two, or 47 screaming immediate answers to, answers that fill you with a flood of excruciating but valuable insight.
Next: "Do I have a love success pattern?"