Interview: Accidentally Single, John Aiken

| 28 February , 2010 | Reply

Elise Phillips, Stuff That I Bought

When I say the words ‘love guru\’ what do you think? Exactly…a bad Mike Myers and Justin Timberlake movie. It seems, though, that I have found the real life love guru (sans dodgy porn star mo). While John Aiken won\’t tell you how to win the guy, he does tell you why you\’re still single and what you\’re doing wrong. John is a practicing psychologist who specialises in relationship advice for singles and couples. He has been practicing for 15 years, whilst also regularly popping up on TV on shows like Mornings with Kerri-Anne and The Today Show. Apart from being terribly busy with his practice and media commitments, he has put his advice into book form by writing Accidentally Single: The 15 mistakes that ruin romance – and how to avoid them.

In his book, John details the 15 big mistakes both men and women make when either looking for a relationship or sabotaging the relationship they are in. I hate to admit it, but I definitely identified with almost all 15 mistakes, and I can definitely see which mistakes my friends have made over the years too. Just quickly, the 15 mistakes are:

  • Only being attracted to unavailable type
  • Negative attitudes
  • Being too bossy and picky
  • Putting exercise before a relationship
  • Being a workaholic
  • A problem ex
  • Toxic friendships
  • Being hung up on a past lover
  • Letting parents be too involved
  • Neglecting yourself
  • Casual, rather than committed sex
  • Drama rules your life
  • Being overly disorganised
  • Being too clingy
  • You can’t say no

I was fortunate enough to catch up with John and ask him a few questions about the book, his best advice and how he celebrated Valentine\’s Day (scourge of the single woman) with his lovely wife.

Firstly, how did you come up with this list of 15? Surely there are more?

These were the most common mistakes that singles were making unknowingly that kept them from meeting someone special. Over the past 15 years as a psychologist, I kept seeing frustrated singles that wanted to have a relationship but didn’t understand what was going wrong? However as I spoke with them, it became clear that they were sabotaging themselves subconsciously by putting up barriers that made them unavailable for love.

Of the 15 mistakes, which do you think is the number one mistake women make?

The one mistake that I see women making most often is being attracted to unavailable guys. They are the types that are married or attached, travel too much, are hung up on the past, don’t want to settle down, party too hard, or are too young or too old. Whatever the case, they simply don’t want to commit, but instead make promises that they never make good on. This can see women give up years of their lives trying to get to change them, but end up frustrated and lonely.

What sort of advice do you give your clients to tackle this?

Immediately cut out of your life anyone who can’t commit. Delete them from your phone, send them a final email, and go ‘cold turkey’. They haven’t been able to change yet, and you’re not going to be able to turn them around in the future. Once you’ve done this, identify the warning signs of these types of guys, and then avoid them like the plague! Also, break bad habits that let them back into your life. Cut yourself free from their friends, family, and their social hangouts. Create a new lifestyle for yourself that only lets commitment comfortable men into your life.

What about men? What is their biggest mistake?

The biggest mistake that I see single men making is putting work before romance. They complain about not being able to meet their right partner, but at the same time are consumed with their career. They work long hours, skip lunch, work on their laptops at home, go into the office in the week-ends, and are chained to their mobile phones. They are also guilty of constantly standing people up at social events, re-scheduling meetings and missing important milestones (e.g. engagement parties, weddings etc.) The end result is that potential love interests get tired of coming second to their work and they move on.

You talk a lot about your own love life in the book – which of these mistakes did you make? Were you one or a combination?

I had my own horror dating experiences along the way before meeting my wife! I wanted to put these into the book so that readers could understand that we can all be guilty of putting up obstacles without knowing it that hold us back in the dating game. For me, I had in the past chased after several unavailable types, put work before romance, and had certain friends that held me back from meeting someone special. The key was becoming aware of this and then making changes that freed me up to move forward rather than stay stuck in a rut.

Does the advice you give older women differ to younger women? Women who perhaps have gone through divorce or the death of a partner but would like to put themselves out there again?

Yes. Older people who have come out of a divorce or have lost someone special may well still be grieving and therefore need more time to process this and take things more slowly. They may also have more strongly fixed ideas, habits and routines that are less likely to change and so being aware of this and letting them go at their own pace is vital as they launch back inot the dating game.

Finally, how did you celebrate Valentine\’s Day?

My wife is heavily pregnant and I was going overseas that morning to continue my book tour. Therefore, I gave her a foot massage and then we had breakfast together before I took off to the airport. I think at the end of the day the small things are just as important as grand gestures!

Hopefully the combination of John\’s advice and his candid personal admissions of his own relationship history will cut through and help readers identify and mistakes they are making and how to find love with the right person.

Available now Penguin, RRP$26.95.

Visit for more about the author and the book.


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