"Stories" from the Collective (YOU)


Single or Relationship?


(Australia)

I'm a bit confused, tired of being in relationships that don't work out, and fearful of getting hurt again. But, despite all this, I'm also tired of being single. My dilemma then: should I be single or be in a relationship?...

"Relationships Q&A with You, Me and Paula Renaye"

QUESTION: Being Single Versus Being In A Relationship...


MORE...


I don't really mind my own company and I think that humans are adaptable creatures and can become accustomed to most situations. After breaking up with my boyfriend of several years who lived at my place on and off a fair bit, I now feel lonely and strange about living alone - not all the time but mainly at night...

Previously I had been single for several years before that. But I had had my daughter at home back then. Now It's just me alone in the house (and two cats). I do try to get out as much as I can, but I have a health condition that means sometimes I am restricted. I know there isn't anything you can really do for me, it's up to me, but I just feel strange and unnatural to be alone and single now. I had close friends but one passed away and another moved overseas. I know a lot of people, however I only had a few people I was really close to. I am working on building new friendships through joining community groups.


I lack confidence in a few areas and wonder if I will ever be able to share my life with someone again, as it's been very painful to lose this last relationship. We both worked hard to try to save it, but the problems seemed insurmountable in the end, and I fear, I guess, that with my condition it's too hard to share my life with another person.

Will I just have to accept being content to be single?

I know that may sound pathetic, but after what I have been through, it's how I honestly feel. What are your thoughts on this?

On the surface I can appear quite confident and capable, but deep down I am terrified of opening myself to a potential partner and trusting, as I feel so emotionally bruised by past relationships. I feel angry, hurt and disillusioned and lack faith that people can really give and be truly loyal, supportive and loving.

AS you can see, right now, as I write this I do feel quite sad about it. How do we continue to have faith and trust that another person is honest and able to be unselfish and reciprocate a depth of friendship and love? I wonder, is it just me - because of the way I am - that I can't give enough and don't deserve to have a healthy relationship? Or give too much? It all worries and confuses me. Also my daughter seems to be repeating the same relationship pattern of not being with someone who truly respects her. However, a lot of us have not so good relationships before we find one that fits and feels right, so I suppose there are different ways of looking at it.

Some of my problems and my daughters may stem from the fact that her father had a gambling addiction and his presence in our life, briefly on and off caused a lot of pain and mistrust {...}

With this last relationship I thought I had finally found a good honest man , and I think he was honest, but ultimately when things got tough, as in my health condition flared up and went on for some time, he couldn't cope. Previously I stood by him through a lot of tough times. He also had some health issues as well as unemployment. So naturally it hurt when he couldn't stand by me in my hour of need. But to be honest, I do understand that being around someone who is not very well can be really hard! But it hurt nevertheless to be left at a time when I felt very vulnerable.

{...}





...So, the single versus companionship dilemma: To be or not to be in a relationship.

I guess if you start with friendship then if more happens, it does ,and it's best not to project too far into the future. I suppose the reason I am thinking all of this, is my awareness of how my choices, wishes, ideas and desires can conjure up real life scenarios in my life. (And the modern day dating scene with datelines etc can make it very accessible to jump back into the fire.) Do I really want that, in fact, do I want to leave the last relationship behind, is still a question plaguing my mind, as the opportunities to go back have been there, but almost illusionary in nature, a mirage of hope that is also confusing me?... What DO I really want?... All questions I need to explore I guess. And questions I am feeling overwhelmed by.

When it comes to the desire for a relationship, my mind plays tricks on me and says things like, well no matter how lovely you may imagine a possible relationship to be, the reality is, it's another person, with needs, wants and desires. And that the nature of relationships is to share, give and take.. Which is what I thought I was doing in my last relationship, and he is still the one I prefer to share with (so issues of how to let go are probably here also!). But he complained that his needs weren't being met, consequently this has now disrupted my feelings about who I am, what I give and take and what are my abilities to give and take and my capacity to have a healthy relationship?

Yes this has all planted some serious doubts in my mind. Certainly I wonder am I capable of this "partnership" thing at all, ever?

Obviously I have lost my confidence.

{...}

The fear of taking any risks now...and I use the term risk in relation to the fact that I found in life, no matter how well you think you may know someone they can still seem to behave unpredictably. I have trouble trusting my own judgment of who a person is and how much they can be trusted.... Deary me, it's a tough one - losing trust, generally... I seem to have a contradiction happening within me... I just wanted to share with you this contradiction of desires, needs, choices, motivations and questions. I just wanted to see what you may have to say to me about all of this. Sorry if it sounds confusing, I hope you can make some sense of it, and possibly share some thoughts on these subjects with me. Thanks.


STEVE COMMENT:
I edited this question to make it shorter and a little bit easier to read. Hope the contributor doesn't mind. Look forward to seeing what answers come from you all in this relationship advice forum...
Steve

Comments for Single or Relationship?

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After Sleeping On It
by: Maree

I am writing back here, not sure if this is ok, but I know you will sort this if not Steve.

I awoke thinking, the feeling is a bit like when I got to an age where I had to accept that the chance to have more children had passed - naturally a confronting phase in any woman's life. I feel that a certain amount of acceptance of my situation is needed, an acceptance like that of nature's clock - it's happening, you just HAVE to go with the flow and accept it. Yes this is a similar feeling and I suppose it hasn't been an easy thing to digest that, perhaps due to my condition, having a relationship is possibly too hard.

So I swallowed that one for a few minutes. And in a way released it over to nature's clock. Then I thought some more about what Paula Renaye said, and I did realise that the principle of self love and acceptance does apply regardless of my condition and circumstances. She is right. I may have reacted feeling it is an overwhelming task. But like I said, I have done it before to a certain degree, but perhaps without the actual knowledge of what it really meant.

And with these thoughts, I suddenly understood some of the dynamics of my past relationship and relationships. I was taking on people who were needy, who drained me in the end. I find it hard not to help people when they seem needy. I took a risk, a calculated risk, I know that. And this is the end result. To see a person struggling for their life in a new country without family or a job, scared and alone and lost and also declaring there affections for you - well I can forgive myself for being a bit vulnerable, impressionable and also compassionate and perhaps falling for some perhaps unrealistic hopes and dreams.

My intuition did detect something energetically was wrong. But I went ahead anyway, and fell for the charm and the desperateness. And being new to the love game, well, I was perhaps a little naive, although part of me was trying so hard to be self protective, I really managed to walk into the eye of a storm!! And like all situations, I had something to gain as well, which I did - I learnt to step out into a larger world via my contact with him and not be so afraid, as he is a musician so there was a lot of social events. I travelled to the city and with the support of him and his daughter stepped outside my comfort zones. So there were pros and cons.


After a sleep, the advice has seeped into my brain and being processed. I DO feel I have grasped a little further, the concept of self love - perhaps enough to help myself and also safeguard me from situations where others are so needy. Thank you!

I do feel I have some new found clarity. Self-acceptance and love regardless of my situation or circumstances. It's true, tough love is needed sometimes, thanks for being honest enough with me to help me to be honest with myself, and help me to remember what I have done before, which is toughen up.

Response from Maree
by: maree

A lot of what you say I did do over many years before I even had a relationship. And I continue to do so, within the limits of finances and health that I face. My biggest hurdle is that I have a chronic pain condition - it can make planning the 'life' you envision as your dream and goal extremely difficult. Once flared up as it has done, it can take years to bring back under control. I have done it in the past, to a point where I was reasonably happy, I'd grown to accept and live with it - the dilemma is the reality of someone else living with it. I don't feel this is an area that you have personally had to live with. You may think that getting it together is a hard task to begin with, try having pain most days. Hence, my feelings of almost defeat for now.


I realise that it is going to take a lot of rebuilding of confidence and re-prioritising to achieve the state of mind that can even conceive sharing my reality with someone. A reality that can involve a fair bit of suffering. I feel you have failed to understand that the guy who bailed simply found living with pain daily too hard. He'd already nursed a previous partner and mother of his child through AIDS and his mother until she died of MS, back in Brazil under harsh conditions. Personally, I can understand that. It's not an easy task for anyone to support a person struggling with stress and depression. When just going to the supermarket and cooking a meal is a major and often unachievable task some days...


Your advice seems very much geared towards the average person. Sure toughen up we all need that. But when you have little control over whether tomorrow you can be happy and pain free, and your ability to work and earn money is severely impaired then getting around these things takes extra skill and the partner to accompany you on this journey also needs to be pretty well equipped and special to be able to cope.

My last partner was on a low income and couldn't support me; he had to permanently live separately and could never have a normal living as a couple life with me. He found that difficult in the end. Possibly I didn't make my situation as clear as I should have. It's not really your average get-a-life situation, perhaps yes the same principles apply to a certain degree, and that is where I just try to do my best to have a life. When I got with my partner, I was reasonably content. I'd been single most of my life. It is a fine balance when living with pain, and can feel like a risk to allow others in who could disrupt your ability to cope.


However, what you say, the principles of happiness and self love and acceptance apply to us all, for sure. I am expressing the added difficulty and despair I feel considering my health condition. [...] I have dealt with this situation for 30 odd years, I'm not a newcomer to the challenges, it just seems to becoming almost harder as I get older!

The Problem Isn't What You Think
by: Paula Renaye

I gave a talk last week and a guy came up to me afterward with a relationship question that was very similar to yours. So, I’m going to skip a lot of the details here, such as your guy wasn't much of a catch if he bailed when you needed him, and focus solely on you and what you can do about your own feelings.

Okay, here's the bottom line: Only when you don't NEED a relationship--when you are truly happy with yourself and your life alone--are you ready to actually share your life with someone else. When you're at that point, you can then choose to find someone because you WANT to, not because you are sad and lonely and NEED to fill a hole. Make sense?

Honestly, it didn't make sense to me for a long time. I was lonely and wanted someone in my life--sometimes desperately. The problem was, however, that I wasn't ready for it. I was still in pain over my breakup--beating myself up for things that weren't my fault and throwing pity parties accordingly.

I really didn't know what I wanted, but it seemed like I had to have a relationship to be okay. I was lonely and I felt like something was wrong with me that I didn't have a good man in my life. Well, in reality, it was a blessing because I needed to get myself in order before I went looking for a mate--needy does not attract healthy.

Finally, I got it through my head that I needed to become interested in my own life first--and thus become interesting to myself and others. I had to first build my own fulfilling life alone before I could build a fulfilling life with another person.

So, become interested and interesting! Develop confidence in yourself. You have to be able to trust yourself before you can trust anyone else. Once you are happy with yourself and your life then you can choose to open the door to simply start meeting people. Forget the "I've got to find a mate" thing that seems so scary and risky and just enjoy meeting people--male and female. Not having an agenda and treating everyone the same takes the pressure off, and your natural self shines through. And THAT is when you'll attract the kind of person you really want--when you are being your genuine confident and happy self.

So, get started on being happy with yourself and your life! And (mini-commercial here) if you feel like you're stuck and need help seeing how to get out of it, The Hardline Self Help Handbook can help you get clarity in a hurry. Once you know what your dream life looks like it is a lot easier to start working toward it.

Do what you need to do and start living your joy now!

Paula Renaye


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