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Single and unhappy? Be the person you want to be with, says psychologist

Written by gaytourism

Dr Tony Ortega (Photo: Supplied)

Are you still wondering when you’re going to meet ‘the one?’ That significant other who will become your other half? Have you decided that being single equates with being a failure?

If so, add a new book from a New York City-based clinical psychologist and life coach to your reading list.

#IsHeHereYet: Being the Person You Want to be With is the first book from Dr Tony Ortega, a Cuban American gay man who has been practicing as a psychologist since 1992. His Brooklyn-based practice chiefly helps LGBTI people with the challenges they face.

Unsurprisingly, his clients often bring up relationships, love and dating.

Does this relationship sound familiar?

Ortega is open about the fact he’s not had huge success in his own relationship history. He’s only had a handful of boyfriends, and the longest lasted six months. His most recent lasted 69 days. When it ended it 2016, he was left absolutely devastated (despite, as he recalls in the the book, ignoring potential warning signs).

However, from pain came enlightenment. It set Ortega on the path to writing #IsHeHereYet.

Initially, it began as a book about dating and relationships. It was during the writing process that it evolved into something different – leading to the work’s subtitle: Being the Person You Want to be With.

Ortega’s pitch is blunt. You’re not going to attract the right person into your life if you’re unsure of what you want, or why you want it. Instead, it’s far better to work on yourself and become the type of person you’d like to date.

Once you’d made strides in this direction (because it’s always an ongoing process), you’re more likely to attract the same sort of person in return.

Secondly, being in a place where you’re contentedly single – and accepting of the fact that you might remain that way – is a far happier place to be than obsessing over a mythical partner.

‘You’ve got to do the work for the right person to show up’

So, why should we be taking dating advice from someone who’s longest relationship lasted just six months?

‘Good question,’ he chuckles. ‘If you think this book is about dating and relationships only, you’ve got another thing coming. Because of the 12 chapters, the first eight chapters are about doing the work yourself. Whether you’re gay or straight, you’ve got to do the work for the right person to show up.

‘It isn’t about what I’ve done wrong or my successes. It’s more about my experience and connecting it to the audience.’

The ‘wrong’ sort of men

Part of Ortega’s experience has included an attraction to the wrong sort of men.

‘There was always a running joke among my friends: “What’s Tony’s type? Young, emotionally unavailable with a potential substance abuse problem!”

‘If I’m attracting emotionally unavailable men, which used to be my type, I need to take a look at how I was being emotionally unavailable. We attract what we think we are. If I think I’m a piece of crap, then I’m going to attract someone who verifies that. I will draw that into my life. Can we change that? Yes, by doing the work to be the best version of ourselves.’

In the book, ‘doing the work’ includes a series of exercises – or ‘makeover moments’. These are designed to make you rethink your attitudes around relationships and being single. There are also affirmations to reflect upon (eg. ‘There are no problems. Just learning experiences’).

Ortega encourages you to make peace with your past, compile an inventory’ of attributes you’d like in a partner, and to think of the reasons why you don’t need to be in a relationship (‘being single is a gift’ is one line that stuck in my head).

First dates

After recounting his own share of bad first dates, he offers his own pertinent advice. Approach dates like you would a job interview. You are in fact interviewing someone to decide what role you want them to play in your life: Lover, partner, friend, acquaintance or no role at all.

The book will challenge anyone who assumes that being in a relationship is the non-negotiable norm. In fact, given that a recent survey in the US found that 57% of gay men over 45 are single, the opposite would appear to be the case.

If you don’t mind the fact the book often lapses into metaphysics (with talk about putting things out to the universe, etc), this is a direct, candid, easy-to-read work by a gay man, primarily aimed at gay men. Although Ortega is keen to point out that at the end of the day, we’re all – gay or straight – seeking connections with others.

‘I am very happily single. I don’t see it as a terminal illness anymore!’

And what about his own life? Has he reached that place where he’s no longer obsessing about being in a relationship?

‘Yes, I am very happily single. I don’t see it as a terminal illness anymore! I walk around and there’s a pep in my step. I’m still aware of work I need to do on myself, but I’m very content with where I’m at and where things are.’

Still obsessing over meeting your match? If you – or someone in your life – thinks being single is a sorry state of affairs, #IsHeHereYet may reveal that you are the one you’ve been looking for all along.

#IsHeHereYet: Being the Person You Want to be With is out now. More details

See also

Open relationship or monogamy: How gay couples can decide what’s right for them

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