September 4, 2013

How to End Up Alone.

I don’t want to end up alone!

The following refrain is one that I hear a lot from single and partnered people alike. Often, the former are lamenting their dismay over not finding someone suitable to partner up with while the later are explaining why they chose to stay in bad relationships and/or ones that simply aren’t working anymore.

Lest anyone believe that I am dismissive or making fun of such people, I am not. The fear of being alone is a real one and with good reason. As human beings, we are social animals who are not  meant to be alone. Being lonely not only feels bad, but studies show it can actually kill.

Hence, there is little wonder why so many people fear ending up alone.

However, one thing that has always been interesting to me is that it often seems that the people who fear being alone the most ultimately end up that way. It may be a cliche, but it is true: we often (unconsciously at least) engage in behavior that leads to us ending up in the situations we fear the most.

While I have no idea what the secret is to a perfect, long-lasting relationship, experience has taught me that there are some things one can do that will most guarantee that they will push away any potential long-term partners and end up alone.

I know this all too well having done some of these very things myself in my 20s.

So, if you don’t wish to end up alone and want to at least have a shot a healthy, long-term relationship, then I suggest doing the opposite of below:

1. Believe that you have only one soulmate and s/he either got away or you will never find them.

I confess, I am kind of on the fence when it comes to soulmates in general. I have met a few, rare couples who appeared that they were made for each other and have almost convinced me that there really such a thing as “the one.”

However, most of the time I believe that many of us can find several people we are compatible with at various times in our lives.

For example, someone who may not have been a great match for you had you met them in your 20s or 30s may indeed be someone you can potentially build a life with when you’re in your 40s or beyond because your life has changed, your priorities are different, etc. Likewise, the opposite is true is well. Sometimes a person who suited you when you were younger may not be such a great fit as the two of you grow up.

Thus, the question of “true soulmates” becomes even more trickier.

Often times, I think many of us are guilty of looking back at a past relationship that perhaps wasn’t really that great at the time and romanticizing it to the point where we convince ourselves, “If only that had worked out! We could have been so happy.”

Having been guilty of doing this very thing myself trust me when I say this would have, could have, should have is not only bad but counterproductive. Regardless of how things may have been had you done X, W, or Z, that relationship is over. Dwelling on it is not only going to cause you more pain, but it may very well prevent you from focusing the one you are in now or could be in.

Likewise, dwelling on past mistakes may also lead to #2.

2. Tell your current partner that you love them but always be sure to add that you “aren’t in love/don’t know what love is/don’t think it will last.”

I know people, especially those who have been through painful break-ups, who do this as a means to protect themselves and/or claim they do it so they do not mislead the other person into thinking it will last forever. While I can see some logic in these arguments, the truth is constantly saying you love someone and always adding this disclaimer tends to push people away and virtually ensures that there is no way it will last forever.

Yes, there are varying degrees or types of love, but I believe that if you love someone and want to tell them then, “I love you” is enough.

If you’re in a relationship with a mature person who has had their share of heartbreak, then it goes without saying that they know that there is a chance things may not last forever or that love can be very fickle. They don’t need to be reminded of that all the time and even someone who claims that they can intellectually grasp that may feel that you are pushing them away or forever keeping them at arm’s length.

3. Believe that once you have found a partner your life will be perfect or the hard part is over.

Most of us would never admit that we do this, but I have heard so many newly-engaged or married people sigh with relief, “I am so glad that I don’t bother with dating anymore!” It’s true. You may not have to put yourself out in the dating pool again, but the work that goes into a relationship doesn’t end once you move in together, marry, and/or reach a certain number of years in your partnership.

Any relationship between two individuals is a living, growing thing because the people that make them are living, growing beings. People and circumstances change.

Also, thinking that someone will make you happy versus adding happiness to your life is nearly always a mistake. Just like having the “perfect” job or body will not make you happy neither will having the perfect partner.

Plus, it’s a huge burden to put on one person. Even someone who seems to enjoy the role of protector/hero may grow tired of it after awhile.

Many of us are familiar or have experience between physically with someone but being emotionally alone. Some would argue that is even worst than mere physical loneliness.

While no one has come up with a formula to guarantee that no one end up alone if they chose not to be, there are some things you can stop doing to lessen the likelihood that you do so. Like many deeply ingrained behaviors, you may not even be aware you are doing these things much less sabotaging any potential chances you may have for happy, long-term relationships.

It may be scary to open up one’s self and risk getting hurt, it may be frustrating to kiss a lot of toads to find your prince or princess, and there is even a risk that you may ultimately end alone no matter what you do.

However, at least you can say you gave it your all, and that really does count for a lot.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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