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Never Been In A Serious Relationship

Question:

I’m a 23 year old woman and have never been in a serious relationship. I often find that I’m interested in men who are not interested in me, and the one’s that are interested in me I don’t have feelings for. I even tried dating the men I didn’t want but who wanted me, but, I did not develop any feelings for them. Or I began to like them less the more I got to know them.

People say I’m beautiful, interesting and have a warm personality. However, I am clueless when it comes to dating and always seem to do the wrong thing. I’ve tried different ways of meeting people such as,  parties, social and sports clubs, etc. I am introverted but fake being confident. At the end of the day I just feel like I am still too introverted and unique for anyone to seriously be interested in me. I try and avoid men that only want sex but that’s all I keep meeting, or, I meet men who just want to be friends. I’m worried that at the end of the day I’m just really an unlovable person who will always be alone. I don’t mind being single most of the time but sometimes the thought begins to nag at me. What can I do?

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Answer:

Some people wrongly believe that all of their problems would be solved if only they had either lots of money or were very beautiful. As you already seem to know, that is not true.

Towards the end of your E. Mail question you state that you fear that you are “unlovealble.” I suspect, educated guess wise, that this could be at the core of your problems and not the fact that you are introverted. There are lots of introverted people who are fat and “ugly” (whatever that is supposed to mean) but meet lots of people and get married. There is nothing about introversion or extroversion that guarantees much of anything.

I do not know why you believe you are “unloveable” but that inner belief contributes to you not meeting the right man for yourself. You see, it goes something like this: “I feel unloveable and, if I let a man get too close to me, he will see just how unloveable and ugly I am underneath. So, I must hide this.” Very often it happens that we avoid intimacy not out of fear of other people but out of the fear that we will reveal the things about ourselves that we hate.

What better way to avoid intimacy than to “seek those who do not want me and reject those who do want me.”

Of course, there could be and probably are additional issues that get in your way. For example, if you grew up in a home where you witnessed a lot of verbal or physical abuse between your father and mother, you may fear intimacy out of the notion that you could become victimized by some man.

Many therapy patients have told me that their parents were married and divorced so many times, and that his is true of the parents of their friends, that they do not believe in marriage. However, some of these people will get into long term relationships but abandom them later. You do not go that far. 

There are also those people who fear becoming dependent upon another person. They either believe that they should be able to fend for themselves throughout life or that they could become exploited by a man.

There are many other possible factors such as child abuse, rape, trauma, etc. Perhaps you have not psychologically fully separated from your parents or feel guilty if you marry and “leave them.” I do not know you and there is rarely a single explanation for these problems.

Therefore,  here are some of my suggestions for you:

1. Psychotherapy with someone who is skillful in helping people with these types of relationship problems. In fact, this should probably include group therapy rather than individual therapy alone.

2. While you are in therapy, getting involved with someone so that you can explore what issues are coming up with your therapist.

3. Those men you had no feelings for: I would suggest you date someone not high on your list but give it lots more time. What are “feelings for someone” anyway? We promote “Romantic Love” a lot but that is often unrealistic and that is why many marriages end in disaster. What about someone your respect? Someone who could be a good father, loyal husband, can make a good living, shares your values and beliefs about life?

Think about it, those usually prove to much more important than “falling in love.” Well, that is my opinion, anyway.

Let people get to see that warm side of you. It is not true that all men want is sex. Reject those guys who just want sex, but, stick with those who want that but a lot more.

Good luck

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