Lifelines: Helen Weston on being single

IT IS not easy being single in our society. There is such pressure to have a partner and to be enjoying a great sex life. Many people feel they have failed if they are not in a serious long-term relationship, but it isn't right for everybody.

Some people have good reason to steer clear of a committed relationship because they know what it does to them. Others are looking for a satisfying career or simply want to keep their independence. The important thing is to find the path that suits you and resist the pressure from those around you.


Why am I still single even though I have loads going for me? I have had umpteen serious relationships but none has lasted more than six months. Why can't I stick with one person? Why do I get so restless, bored even?

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I am sticking my neck out here but I think one of the reasons for a pattern of short-term relationships is a fear of intimacy. I am not just talking about sex, more a fear of how people will react when they get close to us and really know what we are like.

Because of this fear we unconsciously sabotage relationships that are getting too serious, so that we don't have to face up to the pain of rejection. Boredom itself can often be a smokescreen for fear - think of the way you feel when you are trying to avoid starting a difficult assignment.

The answer is to do with self-esteem and trust and I think you might benefit from some relationship counselling to help you sort out what is going on for you when you start to get too close to people.


I am so lonely but I don't want to put my children through another abusive relationship. Somehow I attract the wrong kind of men. What can I do to stop it happening?

You are absolutely right to be wary. Research shows domestic violence has a huge impact on children, even if they don't actually witness it. It can lead to all sorts of emotional and behavioural problems, as well as affecting their well-being and educational progress.

The reasons behind your attraction to abusive men could be located in childhood, in the experience of a violent or controlling adult who was also much loved. The effect is that we are always unconsciously searching for partners who fit this template so that we can make it better this time. Counselling will help you free yourself from this destructive pattern.


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Why can't my family accept that I prefer to be single? I have just turned 30, have a good job and a close circle of friends, but my mother will not stop going on about the biological clock. What should I say to her?

I suspect she may be talking more about her own fears of a lonely old age and her longing for grandchildren rather than any real concern for you. She may be doing it from the best of motives but hasn't realised your needs and priorities are different. It won't be easy but I think you will have to tell her quite firmly that this is your decision, not hers.She needs to see where the boundaries are and where her sphere of influence stops. Sometimes just laying it on the line is enough.

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Other times a period of distancing works - just not answering questions about marriage and children or not responding to invitations where you are expected to bring a partner. It may be hard for her to adjust to a different vision of the future, but persevere - it will be worth it in the end when you can meet each other as adults.

Helen Weston is head of professional practice with Relationships Scotland (

This article was first published in Scotland On Sunday, 9 January, 2011