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With the finale of How I Met Your Mother recently, I've been thinking about this notion that there is someone out there for everyone. Not necessarily a predestined soul mate, but the ability to find a partner who is right for you, if that is what you want in life. And I have complicated feelings about this idea, so I'm interested in other people's take on it.

Nearly every person who is single, at one time or another, has heard from their happily coupled friends that "you just haven't met the right person yet" - the assumption being, of course, that there is some "right" person out there for everyone, you just have to find them (and also be in the right emotional place to make a successful commitment to them). But then there is the opposite perspective that some people are, in fact, "unlovable" in the sense that they will never, whether out of bad luck or otherwise, find a partner and will remain alone for their whole lives. Dan Savage advocates for this perspective, arguing that only when you give up on the notion that you could find a lasting partnership can you start to invest in yourself and your life and figure out what makes you happy outside of romantic love.


While I don't think either perspective is completely right or wrong, I am irked by Savage's opinion. I feel like it's problematic in a couple regards. One, there is this assumption that if you are unhappily single and want to find a partner, you are somehow neglecting the rest of your life and relationships by focusing exclusively on your desire to obtain romantic love. I totally disagree. I'm a perfectly good example of this: I would like to get married and have a family one day, but I have a very rich life outside of that goal. I dance, sing in a choir, just finished a graduate degree, have a vibrant social life, volunteer for several organizations, and generally have a rich, full life. But I am also single and have been for several years. I am not happy about this. I have many people in my life who I love very much and who also love me, but I feel like a complete failure when it comes to romantic relationships. I have wondered recently if giving up and resigning myself to being alone for the rest of my life might bring me a measure of solace. But doing so doesn't sit well with me, not merely because I hope that is not the case. It bothers me because I know that it is actually a really counter-productive way for me to "protect" myself from the risk and potential pain of opening myself up to another person. It would be allowing myself to shut down emotionally and lose the things I value about myself: my openness, my trust, my ability to be hopeful. I don't think this is healthy at all; it's a maladaptive coping mechanism for a situation that feels heartbreaking. And moreover, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, for how can you love and be loved when you preemptively decide that you are, in fact, unlovable?

This is something I have been struggling with a lot recently. I feel unlovable. And I don't know if that feeling is just a fear that is so strong, I have made it into a reality - or if it really is who I am. What do you guys think about this idea that there is or is not someone out there for everyone (provided you want to be in a partnership)? Do you think there are "unlovable" people, and that Dan Savage's perspective has merit?

ETA: This isn't meant to be a whingey post about my romantic troubles, just a conversation about this notion of "lovability," something I've been thinking about a lot recently.

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