The Internal Reasons Blocking Us From Finding Love

MFT Katherine Woodward Thomas reveals some of our biggest barriers to attracting the love we deserve.

I remember when being single over the age of 30 was shameful. The cock of the eyebrow and the annoying questions, “What’s wrong? Why aren’t you married yet?” as though that were anyone’s business but mine.

Thankfully, that humiliation is quickly becoming a distant memory, as two years ago, for the first time ever, unmarried Americans surpassed married ones by .2 percent, making ours the most unmarried generation in recorded human history.

The reasons for this are one of debate: Yes, we’re collectively waiting longer to marry. It’s also easier to get a divorce than it was a generation ago. The crazy internet dating culture is giving us so many choices that it’s harder and harder to choose someone. And of course, “alternative families” that don’t fit the norm are growing at an unprecedented rate and messing with our stats.

But basically, if you’re someone who really wants to fall in love and settle down, as the years tick-tick-tick by with no partner in sight, it’s likely you become sad and confused. You begin to think that it’s your birthright to spend so much time looking for that special someone.

In trying to make sense of our perpetual single status, most of us assume that our biggest obstacles to love are outside of ourselves, and therefore not really in our control.

In trying to figure this out, we may finally arrive at some hard-to-face conclusions:

A.) There really are no good men/women out there.

B.) Men don’t like women who are more successful than they are.

C.) Women want too much, putting men in the impossible position of having to be financially successful while also spiritually and psychologically sophisticated in ways only those who’ve had idle time to grow these capacities might have.

At some point, though, most of us will come to the conclusion that we just haven’t met the right person, covertly blaming our careers or our creative pursuits. All the while, secretly fearing that maybe we’ve never actually been the right person, as we start questioning our capacity for happy, healthy love, pointing to our jagged romantic histories as evidence that a great relationship just might not be in the stars for us this lifetime.

Yet all of these theories have one thing in common: they leave us completely powerless to manifest the loving and fulfilling relationship we want.

What if I told you that your biggest barriers to love are internal rather than externalAnd that these inner obstacles, once identified, are easily transformed? That once you understand the unconscious ways you may be covertly sabotaging your chances for love and what you can do instead, your power of choice is restored, and you’ll be liberated to evolve beyond serial disappointments in love. After all, over four million people find love and get married in America each year. Why shouldn’t you be one of them?

Portrait of couple walking through pathway on mountain. Man and woman enjoying vacation in countryside. Young people hiking in nature.

Identifying Your Personal Barriers

While you may be wishing, hoping and praying to meet “The One,” there may be some parts of you are actually ambivalent about committed love, and working against finding it.

There may be parts of you stuck in the past, and operating out of some antiquated ideas that have you feel unsafe to open up your heart up to love. Deep down inside, you might question whether you even deserve to have love, or maybe you clandestinely believe that if you let yourself find love, you’ll somehow be hurting someone else, like your mom who was never very happy in love, or your older sister who’s always been romantically invisible to men.

Here are some of the most common internal barriers to attracting and sustaining the love we desire:

Festering Resentments (Particularly Towards a Former Love)

If you’re still struggling with unresolved feelings of hurt and anger, it’s probably for good reason. Your former love probably did do some pretty hurtful things that cost you greatly. He lied. She was selfish.

Yet here’s the thing about that: Whenever we find ourselves ruminating about what someone else did or didn’t do that left us feeling victimized, we’re failing to use our pain to help us learn from our mistakes. Even if it was 97 percent of the other person’s fault, you want to be really interested in your three percent. Because understanding your part of what happened, even if it was passive like “I didn’t speak up,” or “I ignored the red flags,” is what will help you grow in ways that will allow you to trust yourself to never make that same mistake again.

Bottom line: Learn your lessons! Look to discover your part clearly so you can identify what you will never do again. This will help you trust yourself to never do that again, so you feel safe to open your heart to someone new.

Old Agreements That Now Need Renegotiating

What are the prior agreements you may have made that are now limiting what’s possible for you to create? For example, the vow you made to your ex that you’d never love anyone more than you loved him. Or the promise you made to your kids to always be there for them 110 percent. Or the pact you made with yourself to never ever, ever allow anyone to ever hurt you again.

The agreements we make serve as intentions, and they covertly influence our choices and actions, sometimes for years, even if we’ve long ago forgotten we even made them.

Bottom line: Take inventory of all the agreements you’ve made with those you’ve loved over the years, and update the ones that no longer serve you or anyone else.

“Toxic Tie” Relational Dynamics With People Who Are Important to You

A “Toxic Tie” is an on-going relationship characterized by fear, obligation, and guilt, where you’re continually losing personal power and showing up as less than who you are.

These connections tend to be with people who matter to us, and who we depend upon in some way; a boss, a parent, or a life-long friend. We fear we either have to put up with their abuse or lose the relationship. So we give in and allow the person with the least amount of maturity to dictate the terms of the connection.

It’s impossible to attract and create a mutually empowering romantic partnership that brings out the best of who you are while staying in a “toxic tie” relationship with someone who is clearly bringing out the worst.

Bottom line: Notice who you’re giving your power away to, and have the courage to start setting appropriate boundaries that can restore integrity and health to that relationship. The other person may not like it but he or she will learn to adjust. You’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself, which is imperative to attracting a great partner.

Once you become internally congruent with the future you’re committed to creating, you’ll begin to feel more empowered to be one of the lucky ones in love.

To find out about Katherine’s upcoming 7-week virtual course that begins at the end of February, Calling in “The One:” 49 Days to Love, please go to

Katherine Woodward Thomas, M.A., MFT is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Ever After which was nominated for a Books for a Better Life Award, and the national bestseller, Calling in “The One:” 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life. She is also a licensed marriage and family therapist and teacher to thousands from all corners of the world in her virtual and in-person learning communities.  To date, Katherine has trained and credentialed hundreds of people as Certified Conscious Uncoupling Coaches and as Certified Calling in “The One” Coaches. Her life-affirming and highly transformative teachings been featured on The Today Show as well as in The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The London Times, People Magazine, Women’s Health and many other media outlets throughout the world.