THE BLOG

Why You're Still Single (And How to Change That) -- Part I

04/03/2015 11:36 am ET | Updated Jun 03, 2015
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"I'm normal, attractive and have a good personality, so why am I still single?"

By all measures, my NYC clients are the most motivated, savvy and successful, but they're also the most terrified. They've inexplicably struggled in their pursuit of long lasting relationships and love. And they want to know why.

My response is always the same: "Tell me about your parents."

Like most of my clients, you probably come from a very loving family. You might not think of this as cause for concern, but in fact, it may be at the very root of why you're perpetually single.

Outwardly, you seem independent. You're happy with your living situation, career, and financial status. You have a great circle of friends. You may even consistently find yourself in relationships, thinking you just haven't found "The One." So you may not realize that the core reason you haven't been able to "close the deal" with another person is an over-connection to your parents. It is your need to put one or both parents' emotional needs over your own.

This over-connection runs deep, but I promise that understanding this problem will lead to change. Over the last decade, I've gained a reputation as the psychologist whose expertise in this field goes unmatched. Why am I an expert? Because I've actually lived this, and have been successful in helping hundreds of men and women change their lives. Since I've gone through everything you're going through, I have great clarity when it comes to this issue. I know how painful it can be, which is why I've made it my mission to ensure that other men and women will never have to spend their lives struggling with this problem.


The Subconscious Contract

Let me just say: I respect parents and love mine very much, but some of us have subconsciously signed a contract with our parents in which we, the children, are held accountable for their happiness. This means we're unknowingly responsible for fulfilling their emotional needs. And because we're emotionally "tied" or "married" to them, we're unable to fully separate into a life with someone else.

Because I'd signed the subconscious contract with my parents, I wasn't able to marry the person I loved. This was during a time when I was watching my other friends marry and start families. I thought what ailed me was that old cliché: "It's always the mother." It turns out my amazing connection, my over-connection with my father, was the culprit. I know that consciously, my father wanted the best for me. But subconsciously, it was hard for him to accept me emotionally leaving him. No matter how much I tried to do what I wanted, I always ended up doing what made him happy.

Your Subconscious Contract

Think about your relationship with your parents, and your family as a whole. Here are the most common roles children play within the family that are at the heart of this issue:

"The Good One"

Being the "the good one" means you're known as the person who the family always relies on. You are the one to help with whatever's needed (i.e. taking care of a sick parent or a sibling; lifting everyone up emotionally). You hold in how you really feel so your needs, continually, are not met.

For some, this role can look different: Are you the kind of "good one" who continually attempts to please your parents? You may not have thought of yourself in this role because you are not viewed by others in this way. Still it seems that you are consistently seeking the love and approval that you did not receive during your childhood.

Part of the Parental Unit
Maybe you've taken over this role due to a divorce or death, and you've started to help with "parent" decisions, such as what to do with a sibling who's never thrived, financial issues, or other family decisions.

Perhaps you've become the" special someone" to one of your parents, and even more preferred than their own spouse. They're now relying on you to participate in activities that they'd normally be engaging in with the other parent, such as playing tennis together or going on golf outings. Maybe you've become someone who understands them more, and is there to listen when they vent.

Another way you can become part of the parental unit is by somehow becoming the third person in your parents' marriage; fulfilling needs for them they haven't been able to fill for each other. This can show itself in different ways, i.e. each parent confides in you about their marital troubles, you're forced to referee an argument, or you've assumed the role of the person who calms down a tense situation.

In these situations, your emotional needs remained unfulfilled. Why? Because you were too busy fulfilling the needs of your other family members. If you're still not sure if these roles describe you, click here to see the top ten signs that you've entered into a subconscious contract with your parents.

How the Subconscious Contract Directly Affects Your Love Life

Your blueprints for love come directly from your relationship with your parents, and their relationship with each other. No exception! So if your blueprint includes an over-connection to a parent, you're destined to spend your life attracting people/situations/connections where you will always have the same ending of no commitment. In my book, All the Good Ones Aren't Taken, I've detailed the eight specific behavioral patterns of dating that prevent men and women with this issue from finding love. Click here to see which pattern you follow and learn how to break it.


Watch for Part II of "Why You're Still Single (and How to Change That),"
'How to Break the Subconscious Contract."

Dr. Debbie is the go-to psychologist in NYC for the single, thirty to forty-something crowd. She is the author of All the Good Ones Aren't Taken. Visit her at DrDebbie.com.