Are there actually two of you dating? Why you may be perpetually dissatisfied.

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This title is only partly joking. Some people find that whomever they date, they invariably find themselves dissatisfied. Nothing seems to work for them. This can go on for many years, and dozens of dates. How could it be so hard? No one can figure out why this person seems impossible to please. So, all kinds of wrong-headed, not to mention judgmental, explanations are offered.

Of these, the most common is “he is choosy,” or “she is too picky.” According to this most “scientific” of explanations, the reason why such people are still single despite prodigious dating is because they have unrealistic expectations. What is to blame is unreasonable demands that are impossible to meet. While there may be some truth to this with some people, it is a wild overgeneralization that nowhere near captures the complexity of what is really going on.

Another popular elucidation is that “they don’t really want to get married.” This particularly brilliant exposition supposes that the person is not really sincere in their intention to form a lasting relationship; deep down, they do not have their heart in it. They date plenty, but when it comes to it, they are not ready to get serious – because they were never truly serious in the first place. This begs the question in a most blatant manner: why would a person spend tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours dating over a decade or more if the real aim is never to get married?

We could spend this entire article examining all the multifarious reasons offered up for why some people date endlessly and do not seem ready to marry any of the people they meet. Most of the explanations you hear are completely baseless, and almost certainly entirely wrong. So, let us clear one thing up: people who have dated many people and not been willing to commit to any of them are not trying to secretly avoid getting married. Nor are they so egotistical that they demand perfection in a spouse.

Every person’s character is made of ‘parts’.

People who struggle in this way have a problem that shapes how they view things.  They are not even aware of this.  From that perspective, the course of action they take is completely reasonable. In fact, to them, no other way would make any sense whatsoever. This distorted mindset is a product of a basic feature of their character. Moreover, people in general do not have control over their basic character, such that this issue cannot be made to go away. No amount of therapy will alter this. You cannot change who you are.

Why would someone be hardwired to persist with this profoundly unproductive cycle of behavior? More to the point, what can be done to be more successful with dating if the person cannot change this feature of themselves? You may have gotten a clue from the title of this article. Most people are not actually one single unitary person. Pretty much every human being is made up of “parts” of their character. Most people do not see themselves this way, because their parts have grown up together and lived as one for their entire lives. This does not in any way diminish the fact that they are more complex than they realize. A more detailed explanation about this is provided in the article titled Why Some People Sabotage Their Own Relationships, but the brief summary is as follows:

We now know in great detail that the brain itself has multiple compartments and they work together but also independently. To give an extreme example, it is possible to remove whole parts of the brain and the person will still be able to function. There are parts of the brain that help us to function consciously, such as to read this article. There are also parts of the brain that operate in an automatic manner, such as when you scratch your head when you have an itch. We have more sophisticated parts of our personality that enjoy going for long walks and listening to classical music. Other parts of our character are very childish and like indulging in ice cream or having a pillow fight.

For some people, their parts want conflicting things.

All these parts of ourselves typically function well together – so we have no reason to give the matter any thought. Sometimes a person may find that all is well until they experience a trauma or suffer a mental illness, and then these internal divisions come to the fore. But there are people whose various “parts” are less integrated, and real divisions will exist between them. What happens when these “parts” are pulling in opposite directions? What happens when the “parts” are drawn to romantic relationships with completely different types of people?

Imagine if your mature part found itself in sharp disagreement with your youthful part. This could be an issue when choosing a career. Your serious side wants to pursue a satisfying career, while your youthful side finds that idea boring and prefers something more exciting. These kinds of internal conflicts – that sometimes result in real-world clashes – is more common than most people would imagine.

Both “parts” arrive to the date

If a person has a substantial division between parts of themselves, this may well result in dating issues. Think about it: you go on a date, and instead of one of you showing up, two of you do. Both parts of you arrive to the date, but they are looking for quite different things. Let us continue with the example above. Your serious side really likes her introspective personality, while your childish side finds her boring. Your youthful part appreciates his lively and adventurous spirit, while your mature part finds him to be a “boy” instead of a “real man.”

As you can imagine, there is no way one single person is going to please you. Any person you meet will potentially please one side of you, but never both. This is an impossibility. No matter what you do or how hard you try, you will not get away from this basic reality. One part of you is not going to find the other person acceptable. This internal conflict will make it psychologically uncomfortable for you.

Many people will find it an unimaginably bad idea to marry someone that a part of their own self is opposed to having a relationship with. If both “parts” must agree for the relationship to go ahead, the prospect of marriage is doomed, it would seem, to continual failure. Most people will never be able to suit both sides of you. The few people with sufficiently complex characters that they can cover all bases are highly prone to their own psychological issues – as it is not easy for a person to stretch themselves so broadly. So, this is not about being choosy or about being too demanding; it is about having a mild form of a “split personality”.

Now that you know, you can date accordingly

The good news is that this is not in most cases a serious problem. Usually, there is no need for therapy. Nor, in most instances, will therapy make any difference. It would make more sense to just accept that this is how you are and focus on how to manage your character, rather than pursuing the idea that you can change it. With the right support and by acting on strong self-awareness, people can get past this problem and have a perfectly happy and satisfying marriage. This will rarely be a problem in the marriage itself. Not any more than it is in their single life.

The bad news is that this will not go away. It will not change. It will make life more complicated and challenging. There is no option to bury your head in the sand. You absolutely must get to a proper understanding of your own disposition. You cannot overcome this alone, but with the right people around you, success is very realistic. You need to face the fact that you will always feel that internal conflict when it comes to making a decision to commit to marriage. You would be strongly advised to reconcile yourself to not finding someone who can please every aspect of your personality. This is the honest truth. Now, it is out there.

Someone who is psychologically built in the way set out above is going to find making a decision as to whom to marry a somewhat (perhaps, very) traumatic experience. They might wish to be deliriously happy to have found the “love of their life” and to be completely at peace that they have found their “basher.”. In reality, this is unlikely to happen. The decision will be difficult and will require a lot of effort to “do the right thing.”

It would take way too long to present in detail how to help someone deal with making that decision. Moreover, I do not think this should be left to someone who is not deeply familiar with these matters. The reactions are far too intense for someone who is not properly prepared for what this really entails.

Know that this internal conflict need not hold you back, but you do need to approach securing a lasting relationship in a manner that is different from most other people. You are going to have to process certain things in accordance with your unique character. Please do not think you can beat the odds by continuing to date as you always have. You are unique; the approach you take to dating must likewise be unique.

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