The Confidence Guy

Wired into Truly Confident Living

Aug 01

My sisters have always been in relationships. As far back as I care to remember there have always been boyfriends and husbands in tow, and when one relationship ended the next started up pretty soon after. Now, I love my sisters to pieces and I’m amazed at how strong they are and how much more they know about life than me, but this whole constantly-being-in-a-relationship thing has always puzzled me.

I’ve seen it with friends and clients too – always bouncing from one relationship to the next with little time between to enjoy being single. No time to just be “you” rather than “the two of you”.

It’s like there’s something uncomfortable about being single for some people, as if being outside a relationship leaves them out in the cold, not knowing what to do. I think there’s a fear that if they leave themselves in singledom they won’t find anyone else who’ll accept them, or that now they’re single they find who they are to be unacceptable.

When single, these people loose confidence in their ability to be themselves; they don’t trust that they can lead their life by themselves. If you’re one of these people who are most self-confident in a relationship, read on.

While you might be immensely capable in other parts of their lives, in a relationship your self-definition (and consquently your self-esteem) is based on who you are in that relationship and what other roles you have in your life – friend, mother, sister, etc. Outside of the relationship that definition goes and you’re left with a sense that you’re in the wrong place or even that you’re the wrong person.

I’ve worked with clients who seem to have a great life and a great relationship, but who come to me wanting to know just who the hell they are. The relationship they thought they wanted came from the need to be accepted and the fear that they won’t be.

The trick is to find a solid sense of who you are and what you’re about, a sense that no matter what happens – relationship or no relationship – you’ll be just fine. The trick is to want to be in a relationship because of everything it brings to the table and everything it allows you to be and do, not because you need to be in a relationship.

This means being brutally honest about what fears you have about being single, and finding a way to be okay with that fear. Entering into a relationship because you’re scared of what might happen if you don’t sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? Entering into a relationship because you know how much you want to be in it strikes me as the most wonderful thing possible.

Me? My problem’s the reverse.

I’m a single guy, and to be brutally honest with you I’ve been single for longer than I’d care to be. I know in my bones that I don’t need a relationship and that my happiness isn’t dependent on being in one. Yes, there have been times in the past when I dearly wanted to be in a relationship and I opened up and made myself vulnerable to try to make that happen.

Unfortunately for me those relationships didn’t work out, which obviously sucked big time. As defensive and private as I am it’s no surprise that my big fear is being vulnerable and being rejected, but I know that allowing myself to be vulnerable is what I need to do to be in the kind of relationship I want, and that’s okay with me.

Whether you’re scared of being single or scared of entering into a relationship, it takes true confidence to take a course of action that scares you half to death.

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  • Ruth

    I can really relate to this post, and am surprised to be the 1st person commenting on it.

    I’m in a relationship that is mostly healthy, happy and working out, but it wasn’t always like that. And, I’ve been in this relationship for essentially 14.5 years (with a few months “off”-his idea, not mine).

    I’m 36 years old, and have been with this man since I was 22. From 18-22, I was always in a relationship, or desperately unhappy and looking for the next relationship. In high-school and earlier, I was so socially awkward and nerdy that the only relationships available were with people I was too embarrassed to be seen with (ahhh, I don’t miss peer pressure).

    I don’t know what’s getting into me here, because I’m not much of a blog responder, but this post has inspired my “chatty Kathy” side.

  • Steve

    @Ruth: As long as the relationship works for both people then all’s good, and 14 years is a great achievement (more than I’ve managed!). The key with the the ‘want or need’ thing is to honestly acknowledge your motivations within the relationship.

    PS: Good to have the chatty Kathy side of you here Ruth!

  • Kirsty

    My boyfriend has just recently split up with me and Im terrified of being single. Since I’ve been 14 maybe younger I’ve always had a boyfriend and when one relationships ended I’ve desperately looked for another to fill that gap. I think there has been two months that I have been single for, thats in the last six years from 14 – 20.
    I put everything I have into my relationships and none of them are particularly healthy…infact maybe they are all very unhealthy.
    I am single now and I know I need to stay that way but Im scared to be I don’t want to be and its incredibly easy for me not to be. Can anyone help me?

    • Steve

      Welcome to the blog Kirsty, Happy New Year (for what it’s worth).

      Splitting up at the holidays sucks, but you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself too. It’s possible that you’ve had some unhealthy relationships or unhealthy elements to some relationships, but don’t label every relationship as unhealthy just to beat yourself up. Also watch what you say about ‘I know I need to stay that way‘ – a period of being single might be good for you, but if a great guy comes along that’s great too.

      You need to get back to what Kirsty is all about, or delve into that if it’s new territory. What’s important to you, what makes you smile, what fires you up, what frustrates you, what are you great at doing, what are you like when you’re at your best. Sure it’s scary, but you have an amazing opportunity to build a good relationship with yourself now, and like any relationship you need to go at a pace that feels right.

      Any other thoughts for Kirsty folks?

  • mixedjusrite

    I have been single 18 months now simce my breakup with my sons mother of 5 years…he is 6 and I see him 4 days a week which is the highlight of my week. I cursed myself by promising myself to jinx any potentials that came along in the next two years to ensure myself some me time…I have 2 great potentials..but I don’t wanna go further and ruin what may be a good thing..Oct 2009 is my deadline to open back up…at this point I date…I’m a man, an animal by nature with natural “needs”…so I date to have that part taken care of with mutual understanding with the females I encounter…I don’t want 2 mislead any of them…but 2 I’m begining to fall for..but the right thing 2 do is have only one…I’m 33, its no longer a challenge 2 satisfy a woman as it was in my younger days..not to pat myself on the back, but I intimatly understand the map of a womans sexual turns ons and orgasmic buttons…not a challenge anymore…I want that plus just as much mental satisfaction and stimulation to keep me focused on her and only her…I gave my self 2 years…6 months to go….shud I extend the time or take advantage of 1 of the 2 potentials in pocket now???

    • Steve

      @mixedjusrite: It’s always good to have some “me time” after a break up, but setting a deadline is pretty useless. Don’t run your life dependent on an arbitrary deadline you made 18 months ago. If you’ve found someone you can be with then you need to make some deliberate choices about what you want, and they need to make choices about what they want.

      Go forwards in time 1 year from now and picture the different outcomes to this (being with one of these women, being single, etc). Which outcome lights you up? Which makes you grin from the inside out? Really take some time to do this, it’ll give you some important clues.

      Giving advice in a space this size is only going to be cursory – is there someone in your life you can talk with about all this?

  • http://myspace.com/meowz Ali

    I’m one of those “relationship people”. I will admit to it. It started with a 6 month relationship I broke up with him started another a month later and that lasted a little over 2 years broke up with him, then i had a small rebound relationship and then a couple weeks later i was in another relationship. I’ve been in this relationship for 3 months now and it’s moving way to fast ( he moved in after a month)and kinda sorta cheated on me. But he’s really good to me otherwise. I have panic attacks when I’m single and I have a date every night when I’m single. I envy people like you that can be single and be okay with it. In my thought process the longer your single the less good men are out there. Sounds stupid, but somehow logical in my own world. I want/have to be married before I’m 25 (I’m 20)or I will feel worthless. After my last relationship I feel as if I’m still learning more and more about myself everyday and finding myself so i don’t know if that is so much of a problems. I really do not know what to do.

    • Steve

      @Ali: “He kinda sorta cheated on me. But he’s really good to me otherwise.” Come on Ali, you don’t have to put up with this kind of treatment – give yourself some credit and some respect and don’t let this kind of behaviour wash over you simply because you think you need to be in a relationship.

      The value of being you isn’t dependent on whether you’re in a relationship or not. Having a piece of paper saying you’re married will not make you feel complete or ‘worthy’. You’re already valuable, complete and worthy. It’s just that you don’t see it where you are.

      You will learn more and more about yourself as time goes by, and you shouldn’t shy away from the big questions you have. True confidence is being able to trust yourself even when you haven’t got a clue what to do. It’s trusting that you can figure it out, and trusting that you can navigate through and be okay.

  • Kirsty

    Hi Ali, being single is terrifying if you’re used to always being in a relationship and always having someone there but its when your single that you learn about who you are and build up true strength and confidence in yourself. Its horrible at first but its worth sticking out and sooner than it will feel like it will be at the start you will get much happier with it.
    If you jump into a relationship with the next available guy that comes along as I know I have too how do you know that you really want to be with him for who he is, the he’s the best person suited to you. And not that just being with him when he was available at the time felt nicer than trying to get used to being single and looking out for yourself. It could work out in the long run but its not the greatest start for a relationship.
    Instead of going out for dates when your single try making better friends instead and go out with them every night. Its harder to make really good friends than to find a boyfriend and put all of your enegry into that realtionship but it would certainly pay off. Good friends usually always keep in touch wherever you or they end up, but I’ve found that I’ve put a lot of effort into making realtionships work and when they break up its either akward to still be friends or they find it too hard to be and you rarely ever hear from them again.
    Instead of aiming to be married and setting a goal date think of all the other things you could do for yourself and achieve for yourself with your own life first, careers, travelling, experiences. Wait until the right person comes along, it feels right and your both ready for it. Theres no point in rushing into a marraige to find you’ve made a mistake and get divorced.
    I hope some of that’s relevant or helpful.

  • darius

    I didn’t really start dating until I was 23. Late bloomer I guess, but now I am almost 26, a college graduate, and with no one. I have had a few relationships the last few years, but always seem to be to nice or get hurt. I am feeling like I am at the point where I want settle down, get married and have kids. Yet there is no one. Does this need to no be single fade with time? I want to have someone so badly but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

    • Steve

      @Darius: I always seem to be the nice guy too Darius, so I know what you’re talking about. Even though I’d like someone in my life I have to be honest and say that I haven’t put the effort in. The point is to create yourself a rich life, whether or not you’re in a relationship. The funny thing is that when you’re participating fully in your life and engaging with the things that matter to you, you’ll stand a better chance of meeting someone.

      You’re allowed to want someone, there’s nothing at all wrong with that, just don’t beat yourself up that you haven’t got anyone right now or start thinking that there’s something ‘wrong’ with you. Want someone, by all means, but you gotta get in the game and not have your happiness dependent on having someone in your life. Let me know how it goes.

  • Louise

    been single for a couple of weeks boyfriend split up with me to get back with his ex plus he is moving back home soon, ive alwaysed had relationships one after the other i never took the time with being on my own for a while im pretty scared of being single maybe i just havent got that much confidence to do it, i have made some great friends and i hang out with them all the time but i am missing that someone again, any suggestions on what i should do?

    • Steve

      @Louise: A couple of thoughts – what’s the reason you’re scared of being single? Dig into it and look for what the fear is about. Also, missing someone is completely natural, especially are you’re used to having someone next to you. Just don’t put pressure on yourself to find someone else so you can remove that fear. How would it be to just be you – and have that be plenty enough?

  • http://www.myspace.com/meowz Ali

    Thanks you guys, i appreciate you’re help everybody.

    • Steve

      @Ali: You’re welcome – will you let us know what happens…?

  • sonia

    having a boyfriend is one beautiful experisence people must have in life. it’s part of every body’s life.

  • EddyElmer

    @Sonia: Why do you use the word ‘must’? How do you know that it’s a ‘must’ for everyone to do/have/experience something? Unless there is some hard evidence to support such an absolute statement, it is more reasonable to say that a given experience would be ‘nice’ or ‘preferable’, not that it’s a ‘must’. The minute you turn something into a must, you give away a bit of your freedom, and believe me, no boyfriend in the world can make up for that lost freedom.

  • Eka

    Nice Article Steve :)
    I’ve been in on and off years of relationship with my bf and end up finaly last year. The next relationship just didnt work out well as i enter new relationship when i am not ready yet. i want a new relationship to forget my ex. but what i did is compare my new BF to my ex. another end up, finally. Last month, my 1st ex got marry and i felt ok with that. i already get my 2 feet on the ground again and ready for a new relationship. not want, but need it this time :). want and need really affect my reaction afterward..totally different

  • Ali

    I’ve been single a little over a month and have never felt better, I still have the problem with having a date every night, but I’m just a social being. It’s the first time in 4 years that I don’t need nor want to be in a relationship. and thanks you’ve helped me more than you’ll ever know.

  • Liz

    I was single for 5 years until I met my current boyfriend. I’ve never felt the need to be in a relationship, being quite happy single – the option to do what I want when I want, but I have always felt that my life would be richer for sharing it with someone else. My mother raised the question (she disapproves my relationship) of whether my need to be in my relationship is greater than the positives that the relationship brings. Who knows?!

  • Laura (2nd)

    Im nearly 21 and have been single for a little over a year. Previous to this I had rebounded from one relationship to the next, to mask the pain of the break up and the fear of being alone. I needed a relationship.

    In this year or so of being single I have been dating who i like and not getting into anything serious. (Sometimes out of choice, sometimes not)

    I had like some of you, a great fear of being single. My past relationships had grinded me down till i didn’t know who I was anymore. I was the person I became to match that relationship. As a result my confidence was rock bottom.

    Even in my short time of being single, I have become a much more rounded person, I have lots of friends, a hobby that I love, and a family that mean the world to me. My confidence is getting there.

    I still have periods of feeling scared and wanting someone, whether they last a day or longer. But I’m just putting trust in myself that time and everyday fullfillment will carry on working away at the last bit of fear. As this last year has proved.

    I agree that you shouldn’t put time limits on being single, just be honest with yourself about whether you have had time for you and whether this new person can bring to your life the things that you want and think you deserve.

    Thats my ramble . . . it was good to read yours and know I’m not the only one.

    • Steve

      @Ali: Awesome work, keep on having fun being yourself and never forget how strong you are.
      @Liz: I hear ya, and life can be “better” when you have someone to share it with. That doesn’t have to be the case, and that doesn’t mean that you need to be in a relationship – it just means you need good people in your life. Wish you well.
      @Laura: Laura, I love this. Without taking away from your story it’s something I hear a lot (you’re most certainly not the only one), and you’re a brilliant example of the value in figuring out who you are outside of a relationship, rather than defining yourself because of your relationship. More power to ya.

  • Breezytree

    Hi Everyone,
    Here’s my question…and yes this is like having my cake and eating it, too. Can’t people really “find out who they are” while in a relationship/marriage? I must admit I’m one of those people who likes being in a relationship. I’m in a long distance relationship now and have been for about a year. The frequent flyer miles are stacking up! Can I figure out who I am while the relationship I’m in moves forward? Thanks!!

    • Steve

      @Breezytree: Good question. The easy answer is yes. You can figure out who you are while the relationship moves forward, and I’d go as far as to say that that’s what everyone does. Nobody has themselves figured out entirely, and we change and evolve just as our lives do. Figuring out who you are is kind of a life-long thing, and sometimes it’s easier to do that with someone supporting you.

      The caveat here (you knew there’d be one, right?!) is that you need to be honest with yourself and your partner about your motivations. If you’re simply filling a need to have a partner while you figure something out with you, then that’s never going to a great relationship. If you’re honest about your motivations for being in a relationship while at the same time being honest about working on your own stuff, then go for it.

      Now, can I have some of your frequent flyer miles please?

  • Mary

    I was going out with a guy in my early 20′s(who from day one i knew wasnt right for me)for approx 4 years. We got engaged even though it didnt feel right (i would get palpitations and suffer symptoms of anxiety). After a month or so we split up, I had moved away with him so I moved back home. To be honest at this point i felt quite excited, the prospects of a new relationship and finding someone I really loved and the ‘one’. I didn’t really miss my ex at all and quickly I was out on nights out looking for someone else. This was 2006 and I was aged 24. For 4months I met some guys, no real relationships but felt really disheartened. Nothing had really happened, no-one had really asked me on a date. I felt bored so I joined online dating. This was Dec2006. I met a guy online and we had a first date. After our first date I clearly remember thinking he’s nice but not for me but I decided to go on a second date. For approx the first month I dated him and suffered the palpations and symptoms of anxiety as I felt I was seeing this guy when I knew it wasn’t right. For some reason these anxieties disappeared and I did fall in love with him. I can honestly say I was blissfully happy. He moved in Nov 2007 and the minute that happened I got all those anxieties back. It was too soon to move in but maybe these anxieties would always have came back to haunt me. We split in the Feb 2008, spent every week talking and got back together May 2008. We split up for definite the Oct 2008, but continued to see each other weekly(emotional support plus sexual relations) until March 2009. I went on a night out met another guy who was only 23, me at this point 27(who I knew fancied me but a month or so ago met and immediately decided I didn’t fancy) but for some reason I got with him that night out, my ex found out and was very upset but I just abandoned my poor ex and dated this guy until June 2009 even though he wasn’t right for me and I was getting the palpitations etc. Whilst I was seeing this young guy though I still kept in contact with my ex for emotional support through tough times as this young guy was just not for me and had no idea how to help me through the tough times but I stayed with him as I felt I couldn’t cope without having him at this point. Anyway, we split up July 2009(my decision but making a total fool of myself by calling him, sleeping with him again but then chucking him out my house as I knew it wasn’t right to then 2mins after he left to chase him down the street apologising), madness! Then pretty much straight away I joined online dating again, had some dates which were no good but I kept them going until I knew there was another person to concentrate on. Then in Oct 2009 I met another guy who I really liked online, the emails were great, the text messages were great and I built my hopes up that this was the one for me. On paper he shouldve been perfect for me but when we met I liked him but there was no major spark. But I continued to date him until yesterday. I cant remember how many times I split up with him, loads. Most of the time he would get back in touch with me but I never told him to get lost. It was nice in a way he kept coming back to me. The mad thing is he is a wonderful guy and he loves me but its not right between us, hes not for me, I was getting the anxiety etc and the scary thing is I had it 5 days after our first date. I know after 5 dates he wasn’t right but I kept it going until now. Not really having the strength to tell him truly how I felt and just ending it with him. But even though we weren’t right I put major time, effort, and thought into the relationship. I was scared though at times he would dump me. I was paranoid he was texting other girls, I acted like a crazy person calling him 8times I a row to waken him just so I could speak to him. Anyway, this has been a long ramble but today I wrote down the amount of time ive been single or not having some sort of a relationship with a guy whether it be my ex or chatting to someone online the last 3 years and I think it’s a few days here or there. Its scary. Basically I need your ideas and thoughts. Whats wrong with me and where do I go now!!! I have self diagnosed myself online and I think I have fear of abandonment and low self esteem/self worth. I honestly do think I need to be single for a period but when I do go on a date again not just be with the person for the sake of being with someone and if get the feeling the person isn’t right then have the courage to say so and end it there and then and not drag it on for weeks giving myself and the poor guy more heartache. Help please!!! Thank you….

    • Steve

      @Mary: There’s more here than I can answer in a simple reply Mary, and comments aren’t a way I can provide effective coaching to people. What I will offer is 2 thoughts:

      1. You’re not broken. There’s nothing “wrong” with you and you don’t need to be “fixed”. There might be an issue or two that you can work through, but that doesn’t mean you’re less than.
      2. What story are you telling yourself here? I get the sense that you’re building up a weight of evidence to support your belief that something’s wrong, that you and relationships don’t work or that you’re in trouble. What story would you love to be able to tell instead? What would happen next in this story if you were cast as the hero rather than the victim?

      Mary, you can totally work through this. Seek council if you think it will help you to figure out what’s next for you and if it will help you see a way through. You don’t have to go through this alone, so set up your environment with people who can support you. Let me know what happens.

  • Phil

    So i was told by my ex-girlfriend that i may have a problem, she believes that i always have to be with someone all the time, which i don’t know is true or not. I have had 2 relationships in the past 3 years. The first lasted for nearly 2years and started out good, but by the time we ended it we both didn’t know the other person. About 2 weeks after we broke up i met another girl and was instantly attracted to her. We started dating 3 months after we first met and were only together for 3 months. We recently broke up in January and once again another girl came to me and over time i became interested. It has been over a month that we have been talking and are starting to become more and more interested in the other person. Is there something wrong with that? should i not feel attracted so quickly to someone else even though i feel its genuine? I dont go looking for relationships, they tend to slowly form into them the more talking we do. Is this normal or is something really wrong with me?

    • Steve

      @Phil: Relax. Forget about “normal” and “wrong”. There are no hard and fast rules for this stuff – just do what feels like the best thing for you, and make decisions that serve you well. If you’re feeling unhappy with what’s happening, ask yourself what the reasons are and what needs aren’t being met.

  • http://sololifer kim

    Whether you’re scared of being single or scared of entering into a relationship, it takes true confidence to take a course of action that scares you half to death….i JUST LOVED THIS LINE…

    quite motivating…
    It TOLD ME THAT I M CONFIDENT… ;)

  • Pan

    At age 45, I have spent more than 50% of my post-age 18years NOT in a relationship. I was even married at one point for several years and the divorce was 100% my decision. I was married to the wrong person and felt it was better to be alone than stuck an unhappy and loveless marriage.

    About 8-9 months Post-divorce finalization, I decided to DATE again – and out of went on a dating spree. I truly wanted to find a man I could build a life with, together as a complete couple.

    I met a great guy, who has is own challenges (has not finalized his divorce due (his choice) but has a kid with serious issues and that is his priority at this time and does not want to disturb the kid)

    We’ve had multiple “discussions” – and now are on either on hiatus – or officially off. I do not believe he has any interest in dating. Honestly, think that is last on his list. He has basically told me he loves me but not able to give me what i want at this time. My response was along the lines – “so – you’re telling me to start dating again?!”

    His reply me that while it is totally fine to want a guy and to be in a relationship – with me it is a NEED and part of your identity – it is what defines my social fabric.

    WOW. well – I have never thought i NEEDED that – but this man knows me – and to a large part, I suspect there is truth to this. I hate not being part of a couple – though I have often gone to events solo – as he was not able to join me. Also – most of my friends are friends of my sister’s and more. My social circle = the single friends I have mostly moved on to other cities, married friends are with kids and really dont do anything unless their kids and spouse are involved.

    At my age I found it is very hard to make new friends, particularly one’s that welcome a single female.

    Thoughts?

    • Steve

      @Pan: What’s wrong with needing a partner, as long as it’s for the right reasons? Don’t let someone else tell you what you need though – your needs are down to you to figure out and down to you to make happen. It’s a shame that he can’t give you what you need right now, but that’s the thing with relationships – you can’t control ‘em.

      I hear ya about how tricky it can be to meet people you want to be around as you get older, but it’s always possible (if sometimes uncomfortable). It comes down to risk a lot of the time, and how open you are to it or how much room you give in your life for new experiences. Particularly in a stale social environment you have to go out on a limb to meet new people and have new experiences, otherwise you slip slowly into isolation.

      So how about forgetting about how tricky it is or what the problems are, and looking for what’s fun? Go where the energy is for you, because that’s where you’ll be at your best.

  • Theresa

    Hi Steve,
    I’ve been so inspired by all the comments on here1
    I guess in my past I’ve spent more time in serial relationships than out of them. I’m not under any illusions, sometimes I was genuinely in love and a few times it was because I needed affirmation that I was loveable and wanted – pure self esteem issues! They were all good guys, but, being absolutely honest, sometimes I felt that I was talking myself into feeling something for them as opposed to falling naturally because they WERE good fellas…and I would have felt guilty for rejecting them cos I felt that they were the type of people I SHOULD want to be with. Mistaking close friendship for love maybe?
    Anyhow, I did marry a man who I loved deeply and considered my soulmate. After a year of marriage I found out thee was a whole other life I knew nothing about plus various addiction issues. At the time I numbed my own pain down to support him; and for the following four years everything became about him. Finally, for the last year of our marriage, he was imprisoned. Suddenly, I had no focus other than myself, and realised that I didn’t know who I was anymore – and that I didn’t like how I was being treated.
    When my ex was released from prison, the unacceptable behaviour continued and after a ‘final straw’ incident three months later, I ended our marriage with very few doubts and less regrets.
    The problem is, I met someone just two months later. I did try to make it clear that I didn’t want anything serious, just fun. Even ended it three times. But he insisted that he could be there for me to help me deal with everything. I’m not blaming him, I wasn’t strong enough to say no. Gradually I did fall in love with him, and we’ve now been dating for a few years. I’ve been honest and told him that I can’t see myself getting married again and he says that’s fine. But I know it is what he would want. I feel selfish, like I’m holding him back from all that he would want. Yet there’s something about this guy that keeps drawing me back, trying to end things with him causes me more pain than ending my marriage of 5 years!
    While I do think the world of him, I guess I feel stuck again. I’m trying so hard to do the right thing, not just for him, but for me. And I still have this sense that I don’t quite know who I am yet. So I started counselling last week to try and talk through everything and make some sense of the whole mess!

  • Lynn

    Ever since I was 18 or so, I don’t remember time when I was single. Well, maybe for little less than a year in the middle of relocation but even then, I was still “dating” or “seeing” guys..and didn’t really consider myself a single. And I’m 28 years old.
    Well, I did not know that I needed to be in a relationship until recently. I was always over-pleaser with low to non-existent self-esteem and confidence…. I just had my big realization couple days ago.. that I needed a relationship for me to be me because I didn’t know who I was. I needed a relationship to please others and also was living being fed by the “love” or attention or whatever comes from the relationship. And this realization came with a help from someone I’m with. I do have the confident part in me but I still had the no-confident part too… and that was hurting our relationship. Now that I realized it, which was the big first step… I’m working on focusing on myself without having someone else “complete” me. It only has been a day or so but it’s such a great feeling that I don’t rely on someone else to feel good…that I am not getting frustrated because I’m not getting what I need or want to feel better about myself.
    I’m excited on where this journey will take me rather than afraid. For the first time really. And your blog sure helped me!

    • Steve

      @Theresa: I’m not in a place to offer you any advice Theresa, because I don’t know your motivations and the reality of your feelings (for yourself and for him). It’s great that you’re taking responsibility and looking for some answers, but don’t try to understand everything – you’ll be there forever trying to do that. It’s hard to trust yourself to make decisions when you’re second guessing yourself and your history, so I think that’s the best thing you can do for yourself right now – learn how to trust yourself. Let me know how it goes.

      @Lynn: Love it. You’ve discovered the most important thing and I just love how it’s working for you. Without that realization you’d still be seeking that validation through other people, but now you have that the only way is to move forwards and to have that sense of YOU grow and grow. Great work, let me know who else I can help out.

  • Patrick

    Hey guys,

    Im a 22 year old male and since my school days have always got on well with the female sex. I would find myself meeting girls and almost instantly jumping into relationships with them feeling like I was doing so because it was the ‘right thing to do’ rather than ‘it feeling right’

    However, over time I would find myself getting ‘bored’ or feeling like I wanted a change of some sort and no matter how hard I tried to hold my feelings for that person I would eventually go back to wanting to be single. Not wanting to hurt my partners at the time I would always end up breaking off the relationship and feel like I had wasted that persons time and energy.

    Ive met a stunning girl who ive been with for nearly two years but have recently began to have these same feelings of regret. Im trying my hardest to fight them as she has always been good to me and always tried hard in our relationship…but it seems no matter how hard i try in every relationship comes a period where i simply want to be alone and even when this wish is granted its not long before i meet someone else and the whole cycle runs round again..

    A lot of my friends say its normal to act this way at my age but i dont agree and feel like im hurting too many people in the process. Ive taken into consideration that maybe my self esteem is simply low and I need to spend time getting to know the real me?..but I simply want to be able to confirm whether its a healthy relationship i need to strive for or a fluent single life i need to live?

    Can anybody help?..

    Thank You..

    • Steve

      @Patrick: Always hard to comment with specifics Patrick, but it might be good to have a think about what you need in a relationship. What needs are and aren’t being fulfilled? Get some clarity around that and you might get some clues about the reason you step back from the relationship.

      Also think about the motivation for stepping back. What’s in it for you? What pay-off do you get by ending these relationships? Again, I think that will give you big clues about your thought process, and you can then figure out what your alternative choices are.

      Any thoughts from anyone else?

  • Lynn

    @Patrick,
    Steve mentioned the motivation for stepping back. I think another thing you should think about is the motivation for getting into a relationship. You mentioned you almost instantly jump into relationship. I understand that at your age, you might not be looking for a “serious commitment” but what makes you want to be in a relationship with the person? Maybe if you are able to figure out the motivation for these two, you can see things little more clear…

  • Patrick

    Thank you both Steve and Lynn.

    I will take time to dwell on your points

    • Steve

      @Patrick: You’re welcome. Don’t rush at this, sometimes it takes time f or ideas to connect and insights to come. One idea that might help is imagining that you’re sitting down with a version of yourself that knows the answers to the questions you have, and has figured this all out. Picture the scene of the two of you sitting together, hear yourselves talking.

      The future version of you, someone who’s been through this already, has something(s) to say to you. What do they want you to know?

  • Abbie

    This is a great conversation. I am 37, and I am going through my second divorce. I married once at 21 to a wonderful man; however, we each had some growing to do. We parted ways after 10 years. I entered into another relationship for about 3 years. I broke it off. I was single and having a lot of fun for about 2 years. I only dated men from other cultures, who lived in the US. I was intrigued by the diversity and enjoyed learning about cultural differences. I met someone again and decided to marry. We only knew each other for 4 months. He was from another culture and had lived in the US for about 2 years. It ended up being a nightmare and a somewhat abusive relationship. I am totally comfortable being single, at least that is the story I tell myself. I meet men easily, and I really love male energy. I have found out recently through some introspection that I am a “fixer” or a “try to fix ‘em” type. It really is not my intention. I want to be in a healthy relationship. Trust me, it is WAY easier being single than being in an unhealthy situation. I don’t “need” a man; however, I sure do love them. I like being single and having male friends, although it seems like men want more than that. I do not take marriage lightly. I am super independent in many ways–great career, homes, friends, family (no kids of my own), great dog! However, I really do miss having a partner as an intimate buddy to share my life with. I thought I found that in my second marriage, yet we could not overcome some of the cultural differences. My family is fairly traditional. At this point, my mom is trying to convince me that having a man in my life is over rated. I am writing a lot here. Guess I have a lot on my mind. I am learning tons about myself and my choices. I don’t ever want to NEED a man. I do want to find a whole, healthy, confident man to take the journey with me at some point. I think sometimes I rush in too quickly without understanding the ramifications of my actions.

    • Steve

      @Abbie: Thanks for such a personally insightful comment Abbie. 3 things occurred to me reading your words.

      1. Your comfort in being single and your comfort in being in a “healthy” relationship is great. Nothing wrong with realising that you love men or missing the intimacy that a partner can bring, but there is something wrong in entering into relationships for the wrong reasons. I get the feeling you’ve learned the difference.

      2. A lot of what you say is spookily familiar to me – we’re clearly alike in many ways! I often attract someone because I make them feel better about themselves. Whether they know I’m a coach or not, I like to bring out the best in people and then it becomes a strange symbiotic, vampiric relationship where they look to me to give them that good feeling. Doesn’t work. I respect my intention and ability to do this, but I temper it so that it doesn’t become a one-way street.

      3. What do you show to people you date? If all you show is “the optimist” that’s all they’ll be aware and their expectations will be shaped around that. You’re allowed to show other parts of yourself – the quiet side, the introspective side, the dark side (although not all on the first date!). I’m generally an upbeat, positive person too, but watch out for your motivations in being the optimist. Is it a way you’ve learned to behave in order for people to like you?

      You’re getting some great insights here Abbie, and I have no doubt you’ll continue to learn about yourself and what works for you. Let me know what happens!

  • Abbie

    Okay, I just thought of something else as well. I believe in my truth, and I am happy to share insights with others if the opportunity unfolds. I am super open-minded, and I love hearing others’ truths as well. I create an atmosphere of comfort for others. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, “I have never met anyone like you. I have never told anyone this before. It is so easy to talk with you…” I end up getting involved with people based on how I make them feel about themselves, not necessarily about how they make me feel about myself. I am not saying I need validation, yet reciprocation sure would be nice. I often feel like I am the one to inspire and motivate. I think this is where I end up getting into the mode of trying to “fix” others as well. I do not want to be with a replica of myself; however, I find it difficult to meet someone with a sustained commitment to positive resolutions. I am happy always — the optimist. I think sometimes my partners expect me not to have down times too. It would be nice to find someone where there is that yin and yang component. Any thoughts???

  • Kim

    Hi Steve

    Great conversation here! I’m afraid that I seem to have the opposite problem to others – I’m actually a bit scared of relationships.

    I’ve just never been a relationship person – always relishing my independence and freedom. Being pretty self-sufficient, I’ve just never had that sense that I need another person to ‘complete’ me. I had one good relationship for about 3 years – it worked because we never put pressure on each other and knew exactly when to give each other space. But since then, I’ve had 2 boyfriends who were both pretty insecure. Both seemed to want to ‘clip my wings’ and settle down way too quickly – claustraphobia!

    But here’s the thing – I’m 28 and I do want a family, so how do I get over my fear of relationships? I used to think I was good at relationships, but my last boyfriend got so angry with me – and what he called ‘my cold, independent streak’ – that it’s really put me off going there again. That maybe I’m just not a relationship person.

    I would love to meet someone I could just ‘be’ with, without agenda or expectation, someone comfortable with themselves, who wants a partnership, not a co-dependent mess; am I asking too much? Will I be single forever? Any advice would be massively appreciated!

    • Steve

      @Kim: I can relate. I’m not really a relationship person either, which is partly down to being ultra-independent and partly down to fear. I’ve made the deliberate choice to be open to relationships, but without practical changes I know I’m reducing my chances of meeting someone compatible. I can balance that decision in the short-term because my work and my health determine certain limits.

      There are people out there who want the same thing as you (the relationship you describe sounds good to me!), but don’t let your expectations, assumptions or judgements about people to get in the way of seeing what happens. That’s why I mention something about my own story and where I am – because you have to make a deliberate decision based on your priorities, and then follow through with practical action.

      How do you get over your fear of relationships? By allowing yourself to be vulnerable and letting go of the control.

  • Fog

    I am so glad im not the only one out there who feels they “need” to be in a relationship. I’m 19 and like most people here I jump from one relationship to the next. The thought of being by myself scares me, I do not like the idea of not having anyone! I have the most amazing friends and family who all love me to bits but I still crave male attention, things like cuddles and going to the cinema or for a meal and feel I need a guy in my life. I want to feel wanted and when I am single I do not feel this. Nobody seems to understand though why I cant stay single and just have time by myself. I was with my boyfriend for 18months, near the end of the relationship though it became really unhealthy and we split. I met a guy after a couple of days and we seemed to hit it off really well. We didnt have any problems we were happy and enjoying each others company. my ex, however, has asked if we can make a go at things again.I liked the idea of this at the time and have rushed things by breaking up with the guy i was currently seeing and now after 2days and ive actually thought about it more im starting to wonder if ive done the right thing? everyone I speak to says I should just take some time for myself, but when you feel you need a relationship it is much harder to take a step back! what to to?…

    • Steve

      @Fog: Relax. Slow down. This isn’t a race, it’s not a competition. I know it probably feels like this is all so close up, all so urgent; but go easy on yourself. A couple of questions for you. What would it mean for you if you were single for 6 months? What is it about that that scares you? Answer those questions with brutal honesty. One more question – what would need to happen for you to feel comfortable being single?

  • Lauren

    I’m 24 and I haven’t dated or anything in four years. I don’t miss it really ( I have rare moments where I do). Still, I feel like I need more time alone before getting into another relationship lol. I really like my space lol.I have almost lost all desire to get back into dating -almost. I actually am much happier single that I am when I am dating someone. I see alot of my girlfriends rush in and out of relationships all the time. Thank God they never pressure me too much to do the same. I feel for them because they cannot stand to be alone. I am the opposite. I get depressed within two days after a relationship starts-yet I’ll stay in it for years trying to make it work. I’m very confused about why I feel and act this way.

    • Steve

      @Lauren: Nothing wrong with being happy being single Lauren. The problem seems to be that you think it’s a problem. Of course, there’s a balance to be struck here – it’s not in your best interests to rule out the possibility of entering into a relationship that works; accepting and opening up to that possibility is always a healthy thing. But as you say, on the other hand it’s not in your best interests to leap straight from one relationship into another because you can’t stand to be single.

      Why do you feel the way you feel? Not sure that’s the best question to ask, but ask it you did. Look at what you believe you lose out on or need to compromise on when in a relationship – sounds like you have some beliefs about what you need to give up to be in a relationship that stamp on something that’s important to you. Find that and then challenge it.

  • Harold

    I’m 20. Alwayys been single. Never settled down. I do see a big empty gap of hopelessness in finding someone. At times that is, that’s not all the time.

    In the mean time I’m getting ahead in life. Then when I meet her she’ll be wondering where I was all her life.

    That’s just the way I see it. How do you see it Steve? (Two different men see things different, obviously)

    • Steve

      @Harold: Your 2nd paragraph nails it. I’ve been single for a l-o-n-g time, and while I do sometimes get those pangs of loneliness that are only natural, I know that they’ll pass and that I simply need to keep on engaging with my life. I think the trick is to keep yourself open to possible connections while you’re “getting ahead in life” – you can easily become blinkered in your own world and not notice who’s there.

      @Nattyv: You rock! I totally love the insights you’ve gained and how you’re just diving into living your life and going where the energy is. It’s tough and it hurts, of course, but just being you is a prize that’s worth playing for. As for this guy wanting a relationship with you while still wanting to be single – what’s that about?! I don’t know him or you, but that strikes me as having your cake and eating it. He wants things his way and doesn’t seem to be thinking about how it impacts you or what you want or need.

      You’re gorgeous too Nat – if I was in Brisbane I’d come and party with you!

  • Nattyv

    Im 28 years old, until recently I thought i was in the perfect relationship, I loved this person so much until he turned to me one morning (June 13th 2010) and said “I dont want this anymore”, I felt so lost and scared and wondered why? Why did this person not want to be with me, I loved him and encouraged him, and gave my all to him. Why would this man that I give all this to just end what appeared so perfect?

    It has been a little over 2 months now and I have come to realise that whilst i was giving all this to this one man, I was neglecting myself, What did I want, where was I going? So i have now embarked on a journey of finding what I want and need in my life, I have taken up Belly dancing (love it) Italian speaking ( kind of love it but want to study in a more group environment), and my recent venture is learning to play the Piano. I have also been delving into spirituality, trying to relax and just be me. All this time I have throught that something was wrong with me, but there isnt anything wrong with me, the truth is these people were just not right for me.

    I beleive that my soul mate is out there but for now I need to discover who I am and love who I am, so that I can truly love that someone when they come into my life, I beleive that in a relationship you can grow as a person and if you are with the right person they will grow with you in there own way.

    My ex is still the love of my life at the moment and he is currently wanting to re-enter my life but in a way that I find very confusing, he wants to have a relationship but at the same time remain very much a single man. Im not sure taht this can work as I beleive if you are with someone, you are with them. I am about to make a big decision today, wether I need him in my life still or to let go of him completly. this is the hardest day of my life but I am sure it will be the start of moving forward, wether that be with him or by myself,but the one thing I have relaised is that I am the most important person and my needs, need to be respected just as much as his.

    I wish everyone luck youa re all gorgeous people who deserve the most happiness in your life.

    If anyone wants to party any time im in Brisbane and am open to meeting all kinds of people, female and male. (Friendship only )

    :-)

  • ehis joe

    am single and i need a relationship

  • James

    Ever since I was 16 I’ve always been in a relationship. I think maybe the longest gap I’ve ever had was 4 months? Last week my perfect girlfriend broke up with me for reasons both me (and I’m pretty sure she) dont understand. We are both 21 and I must admit I think being single sucks! I can’t help it! I just thunk I need to be in relationships? I’m confident, I’m not scared of being alone, I’m young, I would say I’m average / above average looks, sporty, eat healthy, polite etc so it’s not an ‘assurance’ reflex or anything. My mum said I was a cuddly baby and I think this is it for me. I want to be hugged, I wanna be loved, and I wanna give this to others too.

    I dnt really know where I’m going with this. I just miss my Ex and came across this post via google. I envy people who like / can be single. I get so depressed you wouldn’t believe. It’s nice reading posts so thanks to the OP and the comments. Tis difficult being a lad and talking about relationships. You kinda gotta knuckle down and deal with it. This is where blogs and the Internet really do help…

    • Steve

      @James: I hear ya – it’s not easy being a guy and dealing with relationships. We’re not the best at thinking emotionally, but we have those emotions nevertheless. There’s an odd conflict in your comment James (remember, I’m just reflecting what I’m hearing here, not making any judgements on what’s happening for you). On the one hand you say that you’re a good-looking, healthy and (I’m guessing) sociable guy who isn’t scared of being single, then on the other you say that you get really depressed and envy people who can be single. It seems there’s something there in that conflict that will give you clues as to what’s going on here. A few questions that might help you to see what’s going on here:

      What do you think is at the centre of that depression?
      What does being single mean to you? How do you think it adds to you or takes away from you?
      What do you think people who are comfortable being single have that you don’t?

      Of course you miss your ex, that’s natural, and I love how willing you are to be loved and to love. I’m sure she was really special to you, but nobody’s perfect James (you and me included).

  • rick

    Hey, im also one of these relationship people. I dated a girl for 5 years 16-21 and have since been in many relationships im about to turn 23 now. They all last like 1-2 months and pretty badly. Any advice?

  • Abbie

    I am currently single and loving it. I am attractive, bright, successful, etc. I find that being single is a gift. It is time for ME. However, there is that stigma you hear, “oh he/she is single — what is wrong with them?” That is not a reflection on those of us who choose to be single. It is a reflection on what others perceive about being in a relationship vs. choosing to be single. Being single is great, except for the obvious biological needs. Embrace having time for you!

  • Ellisacryan

    Completely agree with this post
    I am scared that if I stay single I risk dieing alone but if i get into a relationship it will end in disaster .

    I was in a long term relationship but realised that I was not fully appreciated . It was so daunting at the time becoming single. But I can honestly say a year one that It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

    I feel like I can now fully make myself vunerable again and do the whole in a relationship shizzle …. Wish me good luck finding Mr right :D

    • http://theconfidenceguyonline.com Steve Errey – Confidence Guy

      Your first sentence scares the living daylights out of me!

      Fear’s a funny thing. I too am scared of dying alone. I’m scared of spiders and I’m scared of zombies. I’m scared of dying in a house fire and I’m scared of rollercoasters.

      Fear’s always around somewhere, but it doesn’t mean you don’t go after what matters to you. Good luck Ellisa – if you’re feeling ready to be vulnerable I’d say you’ve got it nailed.

  • Kathi

    I was married for 7 years (to my very first boyfriend – at 24 – we split up when I was 31). Since then, I have had a few brief relationships and one which was on/off for 3 years. I personally have no experience of a “good” relationship situation, either familial or romantic – so I just don’t bother any more. I feel I am more useful to others by offering my considerable creative talents up to society and contributing something meaningful, than throwing all my energies into dealing with one person and their weird moods/ eccentricities etc. I get so much more DONE when I’m not in a relationship!! Apart from the sex (which can ALSO be good or bad, depending) there is NO reason I want to be in a relationship right now. People all act as though it’s something SO desirable, and I don’t see why, because I frankly find relationships boring and full of aggro. I am not materialistic and very creative, so all the usual get a house, get a car, get the kids, get a job, get some junk to fill the house up with …is not important to me, in fact, to my mind doesn’t even really make sense. Perhaps I’m just a misanthrope, as ideas matter to me more than people, and if it were the other way round, then clearly I’d be more interested in relationships?
    But I figure there’s always been a chunk of people throughout history who have been celibate/ haven’t reproduced etc. Some are desperate and some aren’t, it’s just the way of things. Some are always desperate, some get more desperate as they get older, and some get less desperate.
    At 24, I was very desperate, I really WANTED to get married…but not because of all the materialistic stuff mentioned above…because I wanted to be with someone I loved…and people were saying, oh, you’ll have kids, you’ll settle down with a job, and I was like WHAT? That’s not the reason for getting married…but, unfortunately, it is…that’s the way it wraps up, it’s a trade-off right, left and centre, of all sorts of stuff. The boring stuff…the going down the shopping mall to do the weekly shop (ugh), the cleaning, the endless laundry, the stupid bickering, the in-laws, the jealousy, the headgames, the emotional blackmail…I want no part of any of this. I want my life to be simple.
    Now, at 37, I am not desperate at all. I am the woman I always wanted to be, doing the stuff I always wanted to do.

    • http://theconfidenceguyonline.com Steve Errey – Confidence Guy

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being happily single while engaging with the things that matter to you. That’s something a lot of people would give their eye-teeth for.

      At the same time, you gotta realise that how you describe relationships and how they get in the way is simply your experience of them to date. It’s a story you’ve put together based on your experience and based on your feelings – but that doesn’t mean that another story can’t be told.

      Relationships exist where they’re enabling, nourishing and loving – celebrating you as an individual while also celebrating what you have together. It takes work, but they do exist and they do happen.

      Of course, the real point here is to acknowledge where you are right now – and if you’re using a relationship as a comfort blanket or whether you’re remaining single out of fear, then you gotta call it.

  • Martin

    Well, I am not sure where to begin. I am 38 and I am one of the “need a relationship” guys. Like most, I have had my series of relationships that fail and me wanting to get right into another. It started with a 14 yr marriage to a woman who did me wrong on many levels. Cheating, false arrests, all of which helped end my career. My confidence in my abilities to be single are very negative. I have tried everything that I can think of except just being single and accepting it. It is funny how people tell me to just let it go and the “right” one will appear and be very happy. I am actually starting to believe that that is all bull. Going thru my divorce, there were many co workers who said once it was final that I would meet the one that truly makes me happy. 4 relationships later and still nothing. Yet, I crave to be with someone. #1 wanted it slow and I guess I couldn’t go that slow (not sex mind you-just take our time and see what happens). That made me feel like I was missing something or not doing it right. #2-wanted it too fast…TOOOOOO FAST! #3 I found out was married and I was the “other”. #4 however made me happy. We may have bumped heads here and there but we made up for it with all the good times we had. Her oldest son passed away about 2 months ago and I got the boot. Now here I am trying to figure out why, what, when, and where…oh and HOW COME? I have been told by many that I am a great guy. Sweet, thoughtful, cute….whatever! Is that my problem? Do I need to be the oposite? I know that I maybe over thinking this but I haven’t found the off switch!
    Oh and before the question gets asked: what makes me happy? I couldn’t tell you. I have always believed in “the other” person than myself.
    Please feel free to comment. Don’t hold back!
    martin

  • Trevor

    Hi, my name is Trevor. I am 19 years old, freshman in college. I feel a great sense of fulfillment out of my work, school, friends, and physical fitness. I really love my life. However, I have not had a girlfriend since my sophomore year of high school. Despite all my happiness and virtually every other aspect of my life, my love life deeply depresses me. I have worked on overcoming my social fears of not being in a relationship, but I can not shake it. And from a physical end emotional standpoint, albeit the social aspect, I really do WANT to be in a relationship. But feel the NEED socially. This lack of relationship really derails my confidence and alters my personality in negative ways. I feel its constricting my life and making me desperate. Thank you for your time, sir.

  • Kristi

    I have always really wanted a relationship since about the age of 14. I’m 20 now and have only had 2 relationships, one in high school and one in college. High school one lasted about two years and I knew he was the reason I was confident in myself. After 2 years of single-high school I was at college for a year before I realized I was so unhappy with myself. When I got in the relationship there he made me feel like I was worth something. I gained confidence with him and he helped me realize I really need more confidence. 

    We were solid and great for 6 months and were off and on for the next six until our anniversary. He broke up with me in May after it. My self worth went down. In ways I hate myself for being the person I am, but at the same time I know I can’t help it. I feel bad about my appearance and about the shyness and quietness I have in my personality. I want to be able to be a confident person. Even though I’m more confident than I ever have been, it’s not enough. I want a relationship with the person who broke up with me this year because there’s a part of me that feels incomplete without him there. I miss what he brought to my life. 

    When he’s around he brings those things back to my life but he says we can’t be together because he wants to focus on his career. He still loves me and vice versa but nothing serious can come of it and it feels like it’s my fault. I think to myself “if I could have just been better for him…” But it’s not my fault and my low self-confidence doesn’t want to hear it. I’ve been trying to raise it by working out and helping teach a class (which is hard for me because I’m meeting new people and doing small amounts of public speaking). This post makes me think about whether a relationship is a want or a need for me. Your posts are very helpful to me and I feel as though raising my confidence will be easier now I have read them. I’m looking to really find me now and try to show other people who I am and what I know, regardless of looking silly. It’s going to be hard, but I’ll try to push myself. So I wanted to say thank you.  :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gannon-Kendrick/560261133 Gannon Kendrick

    I remember in high school I wanted a relationship for the sake of a relationship; it didn’t matter who with. But when I actually got close to being in a relationship, I always sabotaged myself. I mysteriously disappeared when things were getting good because I found out a girl likes Jerry Springer. I’ve had relationships that I think could have become romantic if I’d only thrown away my own ideals of perfection and accepted them as they are- the only girls who I thought I could be with I idealized to beyond belief and made myself sick wanting to be like them only to realize that they weren’t who I thought they were.
    I’ve been single since birth. It’s not that I’m not a sociable, kind, or decent-looking guy. But at a young age, I felt like my parents discouraged a relationship, and so I made the decision to wait until I was sixteen to develop anything (aside from a little incident in third grade where I told a good friend I loved her, not knowing the meaning of those words). 
    I’ve suffered more grief than I care to say. I almost lost a friend because I admitted my feelings but was simultaneously afraid of them, and so I became very angry and defensive and even demonized her. We fought for two years, and it tore me apart that I couldn’t forgive her and that she couldn’t forgive me. (We finally put that behind us, and now I realize that I knew less about her than I thought, and the way we left things was traumatizing to me to the point where I couldn’t see reality and refused to acknowledge her flaws.)
    I also lost the girl who I thought I was destined to end up with. We met at church camp. We had everything in the world in common. She wanted to be a nurse and I wanted to be a doctor, and we were both going to the same universities (though she was a fair amount younger than me). The way things aligned so well, I was almost certain that she was the one, that there was an order to the universe, and that a higher power was arranging the coincidences as signs to let me know that she was who I was meant to be with. She died in a car accident my sophomore year of college before she could come to the university, and I was thrown into depression.
    Through all this, I’ve learned to question everything I’ve been taught about the world, and have accepted that a) I don’t need anybody to complete me, b) that people are fragile, and that c) rather than looking for the ideal individual, I should strive to become that individual.
    I’m not sure that I’ll ever be in a relationship, or that I ever want one, because I know that everything ends eventually and that I’m afraid of opening up like that to somebody. I also haven’t found anybody yet (with the exception of one girl who I knew for several years, but I’ll probably never see her again anyway, so eh.) I know myself. I know what I love. I know that I need people. I know that I don’t need people to define me. I’m content- no matter where I go, I’m able to do what I love just by using my brain and contemplating my world and the worlds I create (I’m a “writer”- quotation marks meaning I’m such an intricate planner that I haven’t written anything yet.)
    Anyway, I’m sorry for the long post. It’s been a long journey for me, but you’re right- we need to discover who we are. But once we’ve discovered who we are and learn to love ourselves, do we even need romantic attachments?

  • Cyndee

    If I didn’t know better I would think you read my most private thoughts. This is something I have lived by for decades. Sad to say, my former husband didn’t We were married for over 25 years. In that marriage, I always felt “needed” but never “wanted”. So, I have been single for 3 years and I know for the next man in my life he had better “want” me more than he needs me. I’m not here to “complete” anyone, nor do I need to be completed, I am already whole. 

    • Maxamum19

      i guess i know what you mean Cyndee i say this because my scenario is the exact opposite i have never felt that i was needed i seem to involve myself with Ms Independent every time and now I am expecting a child with her after a very brief dating experience now i get the feeling that a father is not going to be required in my child’s life and i feel like a sperm donor i can say that nothing motivates me more than to feel needed and or appreciated 

  • Marcus

    I’ve been in a relationship for close to two years now and things have been up and down. The problem I’m facing now is that my partner wants to move away and is putting me in a situation to where I have to quit my job and move with him or stay in a city where I know absolutely nobody but coworkers. I feel that if I say here I’ll have a successful career but will be lonely and if I move away I’ll be jobless and stressed for some time but will still have a pretty committed relationship. My problem is….I’ve never really been single and I’m afraid that I’m the type who is dependent on a relationship because I’m afraid to be alone. 

  • Ashley

    I would have to say I’m the opposite.  I’m 28 now and only had one boyfriend for about 6 months, which ended about 2 years ago.  I almost feel like I don’t know what to do, or be like in a relationship.  I know I’m supposed to be myself, but I feel like it’s terrifying to let someone in and be vulnerable.  I’ve never been an emotional person, but when I start to feel emotionally connected to a guy it’s like every emotion in the world comes out all at once and I’ll just start to randomly cry, and I have no clue why.
    I think it might just be the fear of letting someone see the real me.
    It’s not like I don’t date.  I’ve been on several dating websites, but I always seem to end up going out with guys that I don’t like, or are just really socially awkward and can barely talk to me.
    So at the moment I’m in a non-relationship with a guy I dated for about a month (3 months ago), meaning we’re just hanging out and hooking up here and there.  I may not be in a relationship with anyone right now, but I still have needs.
    I’ve also spent a large part of the past year working on myself.  I’ve lost 55 lbs, and have some really great friends that I’ve gotten really close to and I wouldn’t give that up for a guy.  I know what I want in life now, but still have no clue if or when I want a relationship.

    • Brenda Renkema

      Ashley.. Your MORE vulnerable when your NOT being yourself.. take it from a 44 year old woman that was the quiet agreeable doormat for many many years. 

      Then the one time I was myself – still rejected  -but guess what?

       I wanna be even MORE Myself.. Because being myself having the guts to do it, and get rejected still? Hell, that really awakened me to yes my current faults / mistakes I was making.. and better yet realized  the people who hurt me were in life were screwed up MORE than I ever was. 

      The only thing I lacked in comparison to them was a VOICE.. besides that I had a LOT more class and a LOT more intelligence going for me that I was lead to believe because I was listening to people who were so angry / empty and even drunkards sometimes in my past. 

      Not healthy.. so speak up / practice it.. you have MORE to loose NOT being YOU!!!!

  • Shanaewill

    So I never really had a good relationship. My first love was a thug type guy, in and out of jail and selling drugs, no promising future but I loved him. Dated on and off throughout middle and high school and finally let him go my freshman year of college. Met another guy at my university and he was a good a catch but we didn’t want the same things. I wanted a “partner” and he wanted a “girlfriend”. I used sex to save our relationship although I knew it wouldn’t last much longer and broke up with him. I put everything out there on the line to try and reconcile the relationship and he didn’t budge at all. I love him because I don’t know how to move on and honestly because I have no one else to move on with. I don’t wanna be one of those people to need someone new to get over an ex but it’s been a year since we broke up and we only dated 3 months and I still want to be with him because honestly I don’t think I’ll find anyone else and I’m scared to be alone for the rest of my life. I know I’m only 19 but the clock is ticking and I don’t have forever

  • Brenda Renkema

    I have been single for a very long time not even a date in about 6 years.. For so long I would get anxiety so bad, men really “confused” the heck out me, not wanting me when I was there, but then getting mad if I moved on even if they did not want me .. and most I ended up regreting I had anything to do with them. Some I would “wait” for because they gave so many mixed signals.. and went through this again with someone I met online.. the guy ripped my heart out ( we were friends for years ) Then finally told me he was living with someone only when she was about to leave him, then again to  wanting to date other women now when she hasn’t even left his flat.

     I suddenly I realized this guy will take ANYTHING over something that is healthy… So even though I got burned again in life - I can see now what those other guys did… they don’t care WHO they hurt really just as long as it’s not them, and I can be grateful I never met this guy in person, and know my crush was fantasy now as he has some great qualities but is not someone for me to wait for OR take a chance on… NOT mature enough for me to waste emotions on like that.. friends are okay – but my thinking I was so in love? he killed it with his need to always be in a relationship any relationship rather a good friend which to me if your going to have a relationship and MEAN it should been your choice.

    He strikes me as a commitment phobic now.. that still needs to have something he calls a “Relationship” but will only let them get to a certain point.. So they can just have him now – who likes that deal. :  )

  • chachacharlie

    Thanks so much for this post.  I was looking up the topic because I was trying to figure out what I’m doing right/wrong in terms of relationships.  For most of my life I’ve been “single”.  I read somewhere that we are always in a relationship whether it is with someone or ourselves.  So, I felt better, think that I’ve always been working on improving my relationship.  I can say I have a healthy one with myself because I have been granted the time to live a very rich life, developing my gifts, and meeting great people.  I’ve been able to do things single that I wouldn’t have been able to do freely if I was with someone.  I’m at a point where I am comfortable with myself and I would like to meet someone who would like to enjoy this life with me and raise a family.  My hopes and wishes will always be in my heart.  If it wasn’t meant to be, then why have the desire?  I feel frustrated when I see those who seem to be in one relationship after another, but looking more closely I see that there is some insecurity there.  I had to commend myself for standing confident in the face of insensitive remarks and couples showing off in front of me.  It takes courage to be who you are.  I don’t think I would have felt such confidence if I blending my identity with someone else’s.  I accept this as a phase and I eagerly await what the next is.  I have to repeat to myself that I am loved and I love myself.  Outside validation is only temporary.  Fear and pain will happen eventually.  My spirit is strong and happy.  I value relationships and marriage, but it is even more fulfilling if you come from a place of wholeness.

  • Lynnette Crawley

    I have never “needed” a relationship I would like to be involved in one. I have been single for a long time. I haven’t had a “relationship” in over 20 years. I meet men and I know from 5 minutes within the conversation if I want to be bothered. I’m getting older and so are the men that are choosing me. We both are set in our ways and no one wants to bend.

    My parents have been married for over 40 years and they don’t really know each other. I grew up watching my parents cope with life but not making the best of it.I want more and I just want settle. Is there any hope for me? 

    Don’t want to grow old by myself,

    Lisa 

  • Tshoenberger

    I can relate to this because I have am not in a relationship currently, yet am in love with someone still.  She broke it off and I reluctantly said ok. now I  just do not know what to do with myself.  I feel lost at time and just cannot seem  to get past it.  I know that time heals and I wish I could settle into that time and allow it to happen.  I cannot do that today. I am afraid of  what tomorrow means to me.  I have been in and out of a marriage and other relatiionships.  This one however has hit me the hardest.

  • Steve

    @Eka: Yep, want and need are totally different experiences, and it sounds like you’ve figured out a pattern of behaviour that you’ve slipped into before now. Now that you have your feet on the ground and your head and heart in the right place, there’s a much stronger chance of your next relationship working better than ever.

    @Laura: Wow. Independence is indeed a big selling point for the single life, but the cost is that intimacy you mention and also the risk that it becomes habit (check out a previous article I wrote about why successful women remain single). I gotta say though, I LOVE squirrels, and no matter how foul a mood I’m in the squirrels in my local park make me grin from ear to ear.

    I love those little moments too. My favourite is when I see a young kid, around 3 or 4, walking along, hand in hand with a parent. The kid’s reaching up, doing a half walk/half run thing, and it seems like the most simple, wonderful thing in the world. Just brilliant. I call those tiny moments ‘magic’, because I think there’s a truth to them that’s really magical.