Limiting Relationships: How Family and Friends Keep You Single and Unhappy

woman sitting in window looking outThe other day a friend of mine and I were out having dinner and we started talking to a group of women at the table next to us. He was really connecting with one of the women when she excused herself to go to the bathroom. It was clear that they liked each other.

While she was gone, her sister looked him straight in the eye and told him to “back off” from talking to her sister. Stunned at the rudeness, we turned around and started talking to ourselves. It wasn’t worth our time to deal with such a bad attitude from even one member of the group.

It turns out that the rude sister was having marriage troubles with her cheating, drug abusing husband. Rather than wanting her sister to possibly be happy with my friend (a good looking, successful, stand up guy), she chose to be petty. I can’t say what her motivations were exactly, but they weren’t noble.

I’ve seen this scenario so many times in my life when working with dating and relationship coaching clients: they are happy with someone, but friends, family, and others unnecessarily try to limit their relationship happiness through peer pressure and outright hostility.

A lot of this comes from a “crabs in a bucket” mentality. If you put crabs in a bucket, the other crabs will stop an individual’s effort at freedom, making sure all of them die. The crabs don’t do it to be “mean,” they just grab on anything to try to escape.

In human behavior, this refers to how less successful members of a group will try to bring down others who want to achieve greater success. It can also be called “misery loves company.” It explains why single friends and those in unhappy relationships might not really want you finding Mr. or Ms. Right.

annoyed womanBut, it’s not just “crabs in a bucket” that causes people to disapprove of others finding love. It could be related to personal issues, prejudices, expectations, and cultural demands. So, an Asian woman might love a white guy who teaches history, but her mother insists that she date the wealthy Asian doctor even though the daughter feels nothing for him.

The biggest problem with these limiting relationships is that the person stopping you from finding love has good intentions or pretends to in order to advance their agenda. Above all, they have your trust and, in many cases, you want to please them. So, you might find it hard to ignore them or stand up to them.

Also, the efforts at limiting your love life can often be subtle or occur behind the scenes. So, you might not even know you’re being sabotaged.

I seriously doubt the woman from my opening story told her sister the absolute truth about why my friend went from friendly to ignoring her in the span of a bathroom break. The clueless sister might still think my friend was the rude and obnoxious one, not her own conniving flesh and blood!

If your friend is consistently single and you hang out with her often, what happens if you get into a relationship?

If your sister vents to you about her terrible husband and you suddenly have a great relationship, how would that make her feel?

If your snobby mom who wants you to marry a lawyer had to tell her friends at a cocktail party about your mechanic boyfriend, could she do it?

If you date a younger guy, how many of your friends with old-looking and old-acting guys are going to encourage you? More likely, they will laugh at you and tell you he’s a “boy toy,” even he may be more accomplished and mature than their partners.

Look at the facts and motivations of family members and friends behind the strong opinions and subtle hints about the man or woman you want to date. You might find it’s not all “good intentions” after all.

We’ve been looking at obstacles that might get in the way of finding love, touching on more obvious things like mindset and body language. But, family and friends can harm your efforts too and because you trust them, you’ll never see it coming.

Obviously family and friends are important and many times they can be counted on for good advice and help. But, be on the lookout for when it isn’t.

kissing couple taking selfieYou have to live your life for you. Your controlling mom or overprotective father or unhappily married best friend won’t have to live with the results of perpetual loneliness or getting into a relationship with the wrong person.

Ultimately, if you want to find your soulmate, you have to be with the person you love and choose, not the one who meets the approval of every friend, co-worker, and fifth cousin thrice removed.

Take charge of your dating life this year and tell limiting friends, family, co-workers and others that you’re making your own choices. Not only will you be happier, but it will reveal your true supporters and those who truly love you. The ones just wanting control aren’t going to stick around.

Also, we would love it if you could come over to discuss this, and other issues related to finding love in 2019, on our Double Trust Dating Facebook Page!

About the Author

Jonathan Bennett

Jonathan Bennett

Jonathan Bennett is a writer, speaker, and dating/relationship expert. He's helped millions through his articles, speaking, consulting, and coaching. He's appeared in over 500 major publications, including Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, and Psychology Today.

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