Paul is almost 70 years old and has never wanted to get into a committed relationship in his entire life. As a successful lawyer, he was wealthy. He was always handsome and had no shortage of opportunities with women. But he was always afraid of missing out. Even if he knew a woman for a few weeks, he was constantly looking for something new or better.

Today he regrets his decision. He would like to have someone waiting for him when he gets home at night. Since he retired he knows that no friend or colleague can replace a partner. He would love to go back in time.

The easy way

But are there really people who are permanently happier alone? “Basically, humans are not loners, but creatures in relationships,” couples therapist Sigrid Sonnenholzer tells FOCUS online.

However, there are many people who voluntarily remain alone throughout their lives. “I know many singles who honestly admit that if they had the opportunity to have a no-strings-attached relationship, they would happily do so. But since there is no association without compromises, they prefer to take the easy way out. And these people often claim that they consciously choose this way of life. Although this is not entirely true,” says Sonnenholzer.

Conscious decision against a partner

Incapable of having relationships does not mean incapable of love. This is also demonstrated by the case of 83-year-old Margarete, which was reported by the Bild newspaper. Margarete grew up in a generation where it was completely normal to marry early and commit to each other for life. She consciously decided not to have a partner. “I loved my freedom so much that I didn't want to give it up,” she said. Her mother died when she was ten years old and she had a bad relationship with her father's new wife. That's why she felt it was a liberation for her when her father moved in with her stepmother and she was left home alone when she was in her twenties.

She bought a motorcycle and flirted with many men, but never wanted to commit. Love almost came twice, but both men were married. One had children and the other lived on the other side of Germany. She maintained contact with the latter, but when he asked her to move in with him after the death of her wife, she refused. No man would be worth changing his life for. Even today she remains firmly convinced that she is incapable of committing to a man. However, she has found a replacement family in her neighbors. This puts her slightly ahead of Paul. “This is because men find it much harder to find connections and start a new family as they get older,” explains couples therapist Sonnenholzer.

Fear of losing control

“Studies repeatedly show that loneliness is one of the most influential factors in physical and mental illness. Many people look for a substitute if they do not have a partner. Unfortunately, most friends also have families of their own. “So the void can never be adequately filled,” the therapist continued.

People of this type often feel their way into a relationship, but immediately back out as soon as the situation becomes more serious. According to Sonnenholzer, negative experiences from one's family of origin can be a reason to reject a partner. Because the negative image of the relationship that she internalized there is often transferred to a potential partner. Most of the time it is limited to harmless flirting, because it cannot make you lose control over your feelings and, therefore, your life.

Paradoxical behavior

On the contrary, when a person falls in love with them, people who reject relationships usually notice it very late or do not notice it at all. “Those who don't want to be in a relationship often have low self-esteem, so they can't even imagine that someone is seriously interested in them,” says Sonnenholzer. “Then what is called 'paradoxical behavior' occurs: the person behaves in such an evil and complicated way that the person in love loses interest. And with that, those who are not in a relationship have their worldview confirmed again: relationships just don't work.”

However, it is up to each person to change their view of relationships and work to become involved with a partner, if they wish. “As it almost always has to do with childhood experiences, you can work on them. Simply consciously deciding if you want to follow your path or go against it. Then, they could gradually approach a partnership and begin a slow, longer phase of getting to know each other. The most important thing is to trust your potential partner to approach the matter with more understanding and patience,” explains Sonnenholzer. “And whenever the impulse to break up arises, you must stop and give society another chance.”