“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”
~ Mandy Hale
Are you able to feel happy both in a relationship and outside of a relationship?
This is an important question.
If you do not experience pleasure, satisfaction, peace, tranquility, and positive self-regard unless you are in a relationship with another person, you might believe that the only option for encountering these features is in a relationship.
This is a concern because you are associating these positive traits with being in a relationship, and not something you can experience as a single person.
It could also indicate that you need a person other than yourself to confirm that you are loveable and good enough, which sets you up for a dependent relationship rather than an interdependent relationship.
A dependent relationship is not healthy because it is out of balance, and lopsided in how needs get met.
If the relationship is all about your needs, your partner is neglected. And frankly, that is narcissistic.
If you find a partner who is just as dependent on you for value and worth, now we have a co-dependent relationship; also unhealthy.
What is it that you believe about yourself to be so terrible and deficient that you cannot bear to be alone with yourself?
The answer to this question will help you find where you need to focus your healing.
- Do you believe you are stupid? Well, there are also times when you are smart.
- Do you believe that you are mean? I guarantee there are times when you are quite nice.
You see, you just cannot have one without the other.
Maybe you believe that your body is not the right shape, you are too tall, too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall. Are you more than the shape of your body? If not, why not?
Your beliefs about yourself are merely opinions, and opinions can be changed. They are not based on fact.
So, how do we change these opinions that get in our way of living a satisfying life?
First, act in ways that are consistent with valuing yourself.
You need to like yourself and your own company before anyone else can. Be your own date. Take yourself on trips, out to dinner, shopping, or to a movie.
Second, are you fun to be with?
If you cannot stand your own company, is there something you are doing that is causing you to be unpleasant to spend time with? If so, why are you doing this? Perhaps, it is a form of self sabotage.
If you are not enjoyable to be around, people will not want to be around you, which confirms your negative opinions about yourself that you are not lovable.
Third, find aspects of yourself and your body that you are happy with.
Using other’s for sexual experiences as a way to validate that your body is acceptable, is unhealthy, and feeds into the beliefs that you are not worthy.
Until you find happiness outside of a relationship, your happiness in a relationship will only be temporary.
Dr. Tracy S. Kelly, LMFT – www.DrTracyKelly.com
Almost everyone wants to be in a relationship.
It’s a human need, and of course our species depends for survival on relationships. It takes two to tango! That being said, it’s not always possible to be in a relationship, so it’s important to be able to be alone and relatively happy for periods of time.
We need to balance the human need for togetherness and connection with the need for separateness.
Both needs are a normal part of who we are as humans and I think that each of these needs serves a different function. When we are separate, we are free to explore and grow without the pressures that relationships bring.
Without having that freedom to self- explore, you are less of a solid self and ultimately much needier as a partner.
Knowing yourself well allows you to make better relationship choices. It also allows you to be ok when you are on your own.
Relationships, besides the possibility of procreation and the support that they bring, allows you to learn to function as a partner. Our families of origin are our primary models for relationships, but they are sometimes lacking.
When we are in a relationship, we have to accommodate another person and that requires us to question our family of origin norms and incorporate information from the partner.
We must learn to both accept differences and become more flexible.
While challenging, this can ultimately provide the kind of growth that can’t be gotten anywhere else.
So, how to feel better when you are alone.
You need to take this time to explore yourself.
This is your time to question your values, your thoughts, your feelings and to really think about what you want out of life.
It’s a good time to question your status quo and perhaps adjust and refine your goals for yourself.
It’s a good time to explore friendships so that you can experience the support and enjoyment that good friendships bring.
This is your time for you, and once you are part of a couple and certainly if you have kids, your time becomes a much rarer commodity.
Use this time to get to know yourself well, and then the choices you make in a partner will be based on your wants not your needs.
Sally LeBoy, MS, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
“I love being in love”, says Annie. And who doesn’t?
That amazing feeling of curiosity and learning about a new person, and them learning about you!
However, there are some women who jump from one relationship after another and who can’t seem to not be dating or living with another person, even when the relationship is not healthy or even is abusive.
Some women are now identifying as love addicts or sex and love addicts.
“What’s that?” you ask.
Pia Mellody, an expert in the field of codependency and love addiction describes a love addict “…as having a conscious fear of being abandoned and an unconscious fear of intimacy.”
What does this mean?
A love addict knows and feels the need to be with someone but she is terrified of really being vulnerable and getting close to someone.
This can lead to her desperate to be in a relationship, but then finding reasons to leave…and then seeking out another person to date or be with, and very quickly.
Rob Weiss, behavioral addiction expert says:
“When individuals are preoccupied to the point of obsession with falling and/or being in love, as love addicts are, they tend to behave in highly regrettable ways, just like alcoholics, drug addicts, compulsive gamblers, compulsive spenders, sex addicts, etc.”
How could being in love compare to being a drug addict? This statement seems a bit severe, you might say.
If someone is truly a love addict, she will spend a lot of time, money, and energy focusing on her love interest.
This can cost her her job (too much time texting or emailing her sweetheart), her savings account (buying expensive gifts, going on expensive vacations, buying special clothes or lingerie), and her sanity.
She will also neglect or ignore important parts of her life, like friends, family, even pets and definitely her own self-care.
In addition, like other addictions, when the love interest doesn’t call or spend time with her, she can go through feelings similar to withdrawal from a drug including depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Since we live in a romance and relationship positive culture, this problem can go largely ignored for a long time.
Many, when breaking up with someone, will be encouraged by friends and family to get back on-line, call old boyfriends or hook-ups to “forget” about their current pain and “move on”.
For the love addict, this fits perfectly with her own ideas about what is best for her.
Ultimately this does not give her the time and space to grieve, reflect, regroup and to find and keep her true sense of self, which is the biggest gift we can have between and during a relationship.
Wendy Conquest, MA, LPC, CSAT-S, IBP – www.wendyconquest.com
There are certainly hundreds of reasons that someone would want to be in a relationship.
Relationships can be fun, supportive, entertaining, and certainly make life more interesting. However, what does it mean that you need to be in a relationship?
The word need implies something that you can’t live without, a basic necessity for your well-being, a requirement for life.
It’s true that human beings need social connections with others, however, being in love and in an attached relationship actually isn’t compulsory to a happy life.
However, if you feel that you need to be in a relationship, then it’s time to take a look at what’s really going on.
I’ve heard all kinds of fears and self-judgements from people who want to be in a relationship, but currently are not in one.
“What’s wrong with me?” tops the list. I invite you to look around you at the people who are in relationships.
They are not all perfect people, exciting all the time, beautiful, happy, and endlessly content. In various surveys, 20% to 60% say they’re currently not happy being in their relationship.
In fact, fewer people are living together than ever before.
The number of single person households has doubled in the last 50 years. Half of all people live alone. Of the population between 18 and 34 in the US, only 29% are married, while 59% were married in 1978. Are they all miserable and lonely?
People in this age group are healthier, wealthier and better educated than ever before.
So, a “relationship” isn’t a requirement for life, and fewer people are seeing it as necessary in every stage of adulthood.
It’s not about anything being wrong with you. The world of relationships is much more complicated than it used to be.
A loving relationship is what you WANT.
For centuries parents picked out a marriage partner for their children, and then the couple had to figure out how to live together.
Today, we pick out our own relationships, and a lot of anxiety has developed around that.
- Who? Where to meet?
- How can I choose the right one?
- Who will choose me?
- How can I know if it’ll work?
- If it doesn’t work, did I do something wrong?
- If I don’t have a partner by a certain age, am I a loser?
And the feeling that you NEED to be in a relationship to be OK has increased. However, I doubt that you’d like to go back to having your relationship selected for you, but with a guarantee that you’d be married by age 15, 18, or 20.
Life holds a lot of options for women today—
Education, good jobs, making your own success, being relied on and respected, having your own money and resources, buying your own car, or house, or vacation, and getting to direct your own life.
These are all things you can accomplish for yourself. It means you have a thousand more options and choices about a relationship, but it also makes relationships more complicated.
You aren’t a “blank slate” with no opinions or goals or choices when you enter a relationship.
You bring your whole life path to it, and you want it to be compatible with your partner’s life path.
This is much harder to achieve than it has ever been before. When two dynamic individuals with dreams and goals and rights match up and it works, nothing could be better. But it’s a much longer process to get there than when women were given to any guy who came along by their family.
Of course, you want a relationship, but today very few women actually need a relationship.
Overall, that’s good. You have a much greater opportunity to make a good and happy life than ever before. However, it takes longer to find the right partner, and you’ll probably be alone longer.
Even then, when—and if—you choose to get married you are likely to spend some of your lives apart pursuing your own education, dreams, and opportunities.
In order to handle your own independence and prepare for your loving relationship of the future, it’s important to
- develop strong, empowering, positive and supportive social connections with other women
- connect with people on a similar life path,
- have colleagues, roommates, neighbors and community connections
This is your life.
Making it happen now is the most likely way to find the friendships that can ultimately connect you to someone you can share your dreams with.
Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com
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