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.