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Accidentally Single - John Aiken

Accidentally Single

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Accidentally Single, by John Aiken the author of U-Turn: Putting You Back Into Your Relationship.

  • Do your relationships fizzle out before they get started?
  • Do you have more dating disasters than successes?
  • Are you often left wondering why everyone has a partner except you?

Many of us say we want to find someone special, then act in ways that drive away potential partners. Psychologist John Aiken has spent years listening to his clients talk about the difficulties of finding that special person, and has come to the conclusion that most of our dating mistakes are ones we don't even know we are making. John identifies the fifteen mistakes that hold single people back, including being too bossy and picky, being attracted to unavailable types and being hung up onthe past. He provides his own dating stories as well as step-by-step advice on how to overcome these mistakes and make room in our lives for love.

Insightful, authoritative and revealing, Accidentally Single is for those who want to find 'the one', and are prepared to do what it takes to make it happen.

Visit accidentallysingle.com for more about the author and the book.

'Partly informed by his own dating adventures, the now-married Sydney singles/relationships counsellor has produced a practical book of do's, don'ts and common behavioural mistakes for Australians seeking romance.'
Sun Herald

The Aim of This Book

If you've picked up this book then you're a single person who's curious about how to meet the right partner. You'll also be interested in finding out which types of barriers prevent you from doing this. The better you can identify these, the better you can deal with them. However, what you may not know is that many of the barriers to finding a partner are often created by you! This book will open your eyes to the fifteen key obstacles and teach you ways to overcome them, then attract the right person into your life.

I've been dealing with relationship issues as a psychologist both in the media and in private practice for the past fifteen years. There have been so many single people over this time who have come to see me for guidance about what they're doing wrong and how to fix it. At some level they know that something isn't working, because they keep repeating the same patterns. It might be that they always go after married people, they're hung up on the past, they get clingy when they're dating, or they have a difficult ex who constantly gets in the way. Regardless, they want insight into their problems and practical steps to help them make changes.

If you're prone to these or other types of problem behaviours then this book is for you. You need to know what you're doing wrong and how to make changes to give yourself a better chance in the dating game. Put it this way – you won't meet the right person and have a great relationship if you keep sabotaging yourself! You may say you want to find someone special, but to do this you have to walk the walk and make some sacrifices. Read this book and commit yourself to the idea of doing what it takes to make yourself available for someone to come into your life – then it's game on.

If, on the other hand, you're happy to put work, friends, family, travel and money first in your life, read no further. This book's not aimed at you. You're not serious about wanting a relationship, and you still want the single life. I have no problem with that. What I would ask, however, is that you front up and be honest – other things are more important to you right now and you're not looking to find someone special. That's why you prioritise everything else in your life. Don't stop! Enjoy yourself. If you do want a relationship, however, read on and find out how to make yourself more available to attract the right partner.


About three years ago, I was sitting with a good friend at a café in Auckland. It was a Sunday morning, and Brad and I had planned one of our regular coffees to debrief about the excesses of the weekend. I was engaged to be married, while he had been single for two years and was looking to find someone special. Before I go any further, let me give you an overview of this guy.

Brad was a solo father of two gorgeous girls, working in an advertising firm and making a great fist of dating and managing his separated family situation. He was very good-looking, in his late thirties, extremely fit, loved the outdoors and had a large group of sociable friends. My fiancée Kelly and I met him when he moved in next door to us. Over the next few months, we developed a great friendship and I watched with interest as he navigated his way through the world of dating.

We often met for coffee and he would give me his thoughts on the dating scene. Like many people looking for a partner, he was drinking in bars and clubs, trying to get phone numbers from members of the opposite sex. However, this time he made an interesting observation. Over the past several months he had found a strange trend emerging in some of the women he'd been trying to date. When he had follow-up dates with them, they didn't seem to be as available for a relationship as he'd first thought. Excuses that meant a long-term relationship was virtually impossible started appearing on the second or third date. 'What sort of excuses?' I asked. Well, some of the women talked about being too busy at work, having too many commitments with their children, or not being ready as a result of a recent break-up. In addition, some had toxic friends who held them back or problem ex-boyfriends who still played a major role in their lives.

At this point, I asked if they simply weren't interested in him, and he said that while that might have been true, they were the ones ringing him and generally making the effort! Then it hit me. I jumped in and said that these women seemed to be 'single but unavailable'. He laughed, and agreed that while they said they wanted a long-term relationship, they put up a lot of obstacles that made it impossible for anyone to get close. From this day on, I was always on the lookout for single but unavailable people: individuals who thought they were 'accidentally single', but in fact had created their situation without knowing it.


For the purposes of this book, being single but unavailable refers to people who sabotage themselves without knowing it, making it impossible for them to have a long-term relationship. If you're one of these people, the problem may be due to models you were exposed to during your upbringing, or recent negative experiences. Regardless of the reasons, the fact remains that you think and behave in certain ways that make it impossible for you to have an intimate relationship. For instance, you may be too bossy, or too nice and unable to say 'no', or have a negative attitude, or you might only be into casual sex. Or you may let drama rule your life, have friends who hold you back, or have over-involved parents. Whatever the obstacle, you end up being unavailable for romance.


Of course, as I walked away from my coffee with Brad and started to think about people who were single but unavailable, I began to look at my previous life as a single person. I wondered whether, before I met Kelly, I had dated some women who also put up obstacles. Sure enough, one quickly came to mind.

At one point I was dating another psychologist. We met at a conference and had worked in a number of similar environments. There was a real chemistry between us and I was keen to get involved with her. I pursued her hard for weeks, and we began to go out. Unfortunately, she always seemed hesitant because we were in the same profession, and she was still getting over a previous relationship. I should've known that this was a bad sign!

Over the next month we started to sleep together, but the possibility of a relationship was always up in the air. We kept things at a very physical level, and she asked me not to go into anything deep – to keep it fun. She would be vague about making plans, we would go out separately on the weekends and then meet up at my apartment later in the evenings, and there were a number of guys who were interested in taking her out. Although she said she wanted another serious relationship, her behaviour was telling me the exact opposite. It soon became clear that I was one of many men in her life who were interested, but she didn't really want to take it any further. At that point I realised that she was unavailable, and I decided to move on and stop the games.

Of course, it would be foolish of me to think that I had never put up barriers myself to meeting the woman of my dreams.

Indeed, there have been many times in the past when I was totally unavailable to have a relationship. I remember one such time: I had been single for about six months and one night I was out on the town drinking with a great friend of mine. Up until then, I'd been keeping a low profile and prioritising my private practice over everything else. I would go into the office most weekends, work on my laptop at night, and often turn down social invitations due to work commitments. On this night, we were catching a cab from one bar to another when I told him how I was really looking forward to getting into a new relationship. He turned to me and said in a very direct tone, 'What the f**k have you done lately to make that happen?' It cut right through all the alcohol and laughter and made me start re-evaluating everything. I thought I was simply accidentally single; however, this conversation made me realise that I had created the situation all by myself by putting work ahead of romance, and things had to change.


It does seem rather strange that single men and women around the world would sabotage themselves in the dating game while saying they really want to meet someone special. What would possibly make us do this? Well, there are many benefits to being single and unavailable – you've probably just never thought about them. Here are some examples that might get you thinking.

Joel is a 35-year-old musician who's been playing piano in bars throughout the city for a number of years. He meets a lot of women through his work, and enjoys the single life. He loves to play the field, party hard, drink a lot and sleep in till the afternoon. He has never really been in a long-term relationship, and instead enjoys one-night stands with admirers who are just passing through. He tells his friends that he's on the look-out for someone special, and will give up his lifestyle once he meets the right person. He's making the mistakes of prioritising casual sex, drinking too much and neglecting his health. The benefits of this situation are that he gets lots of sex, has no commitment, is in control of his world and protects himself from being hurt.

Alannah is a 30-year-old hotel receptionist who's been single for the past four years. Before this she was engaged to be married to her childhood sweetheart, Jay. In the end, she had to call the wedding off because she realised that she only loved him as a friend. After this, she has tried to date other guys but her continued relationship with Jay tends to get in the way. He rings her most days, has coffee with her every week, drops around to her apartment unannounced and takes her to the movies regularly. She also goes to him for advice and reassurance, asks him to run errands, and sometimes has 'ex sex' with him. She's making the mistake of having a problem ex in her life, and this is keeping her single.

The benefits of this situation are that she avoids commitment, receives constant advice and reassurance, can rely on him for errands and reminders, and gets to have sex with him when she's in the mood.

Patrick is a 40-year-old writer who's been single for the past two years. He's gifted when it comes to writing novels, and he has had some recent success with his latest crime book. Although this part of his life has really started to take off, his personal life has not been a success. His biggest problem is that he's disorganised. He runs late all the time, he's hard to contact, he's forgetful, and he tends never to have money. He constantly asks people for advice and looks to his friends to organise his social calendar. He's bad with paying his bills, his apartment is a mess, he's indecisive and he procrastinates. He's making the mistake of not being able to sort his life out, and this is keeping him single. The benefits of this are that he can avoid being responsible and can remain immature and needy; he lets others look after him and he can avoid making decisions.

As you can see, there are a number of advantages to putting up barriers in the dating game so that you can stay single. More often than not, you'll be putting up these barriers – and enjoying the advantages – without being aware of it. Understanding what's really going on can help you to overcome the obstacles. You can figure out how these barriers have come to work for you in your current lifestyle, and you can see what you're going to need to give up if you decide to change. It's always good to get the full picture before youdecide.Somepeoplelikethebenefitssomuchthattheydecideto continue to stay single and unavailable. However, I would strongly urge you to let go of your old ways. Having a rewarding intimate relationship is the most amazing thing you can ever experience: why not drop your barriers and find this out for yourself?

It's also worth emphasising that many of these barriers have been around without you knowing it for much of your life. You're not a bad person for putting them up; rather, you've created a situation that's comfortable for you. Don't beat yourself up for doing this; however, once you've decided to change, you'll need to commit to altering your approach and pulling down the barriers that have kept you single.


As you know, there are lots of self-help books out there on relationships that can give you strategies in all types of areas. I wanted to write this book because I think people who are single but don't want to be often need a wake-up call about the way they can sabotage themselves in the dating game. Rather than looking only at superficial issues like flirting tips or body language, I wanted to get people to examine their lifestyles in a much deeper way. The bottom line is that you can practise flirting skills all you want, but if you're unavailable in some way then it's not going to make a difference. You have to make bigger changes that open you up to meeting the right partner, rather than simply getting good at chatting up strangers in bars.

I also wanted to write this book because it was an area that seemed important to single people. Time and time again, clients would say to me, 'I'm single, I want to meet a partner, but it isn't happening for me. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, but I'm still single and I hate it!' I'd heard this so often it was time to act.

In addition, I've had my own experiences with being single but unavailable. During my single years there were plenty of times when I thought I was ready to meet someone; when I look back now, I realise I wasn't even in the game! I made the mistakes of putting work first, chasing too hard, and being hung up on past relationships. It was only after having some tough conversations with friends that I started to see that I needed to make changes. I was single for two years before I met my wife; over those twenty-four months I kept close to a number of the strategies of this book, and they helped me to find a woman who truly is the best part of my life.


This book will show you the fifteen key mistakes you're making that are keeping you single, and give you easy-to-follow steps to help you become available to let someone special into your life. It's a wake-up call for anyone who wants to be in a relationship. You need to know how you sabotage yourself in the dating game, and learn practical ways of changing this pattern.

The book is written in a very user-friendly way, and it will get you to set some new goals for yourself that put you on course for finding the right partner. It will educate you about the fifteen main mistakes you can make that hold you back from finding your ideal partner. Each chapter covers one of the key types of mistake as follows:

1 You're only attracted to unavailable types.

2 You're too clingy.

3 You let drama rule your life.

4 You're hung up on past relationships.

5 You have a negative attitude.

6 You're too bossy and picky.

7 You have friendships that hold you back.

8 You're only into casual sex.

9 You put exercise before romance.

10 You can't sort your life out.

11 You put work before love.

12 You're too nice and can't say 'no'.

13 You have a problem ex.

14 You have over-involved parents.

15 You neglect your health and appearance.

Each chapter outlines important signs to look out for (behaviours, thoughts and feelings); why you keep making these mistakes; what it's like to be in a relationship with you; and five practical steps to overcome each obstacle. To illustrate each mistake, I have included a case study that shows you what the problem looks like in a real-life situation, and what each person did to resolve the issue. These are fictional cases, based on the thousands of stories I have heard over the years from clients and friends. I have also mentioned some of my own experiences, based around real-life situations, with some details changed for privacy. The practical steps are based on general cognitive behavioural strategies that have proved exceptionally effective for the people I have worked with.

The book is written so you can dip in and out of the chapters that are relevant to you. Choose the ones that ring true and then put in place the appropriate strategies to make change. Keep in mind that you've been making these mistakes for some time, so you'll need to be patient as you go about pulling down your obstacles and becoming more available. There can be rough days along the way, and your motivation will be tested. Don't despair. By facing your fears and breaking old patterns, you'll gain strength and understanding. Keep reminding yourself that you're doing this because you want to meet someone special. No longer are you going to sabotage yourself in the dating game. Instead, your focus is now on making yourself available to let the right person into your life.

Remember, this book won't tell you where you're going to meet the right person. Rather, it will tell you how to become available so you can leap when they come along. By the time you've finished reading you'll be able to do the following:

Understand what it means to be 'accidentally single' (single but unavailable).

Identify the key mistakes that hold you back. Pinpoint the reasons you have sabotaged yourself.

Get some perspective on what it's like to date someone like you. Put in place five strategies to break each pattern.

Once you've committed to this process of making yourself available and pulled down your barriers, you're going to find it has great benefits in all areas of your life. You'll become very good at treating yourself with respect, and develop the ability to say 'no' to the wrong people. You'll learn to treat dating like a process of elimination, not rejection, and you'll engage in behaviours and thinking patterns that attract the right people. In addition, you'll notice that you re-evaluate other areas of your life and make long-overdue changes that are consistent with your new approach. If there are issues that are holding you back with family, friends, work, living arrangements, finances and/or health and fitness, then you'll attack these and continue to move forward. This new approach will liberate you and allow you to take control of how you deal with the world.

In the end, I believe that many people are single not because they haven't found the right person, but rather, because they've been sabotaging themselves along the way. We can all be guilty of this. It's time to turn inwards and look at the barriers and obstacles you put up that contribute to this situation, then take action.

Start today and make a commitment to create space in your life for someone special. Use this book to examine your behaviours. If any of them are pushing people away, commit to learning how to stop. It's that simple. Let's begin that change now.

ISBN: 9780143204213
ISBN-10: 0143204211
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 360
Published: 1st February 2010
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 12.8  x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.34
Edition Number: 1