We got to know each other, and he kissed me. But then he said he doesn’t want to be tied down
PROBLEM: I’m a 23-year-old woman who has had a few men in her time but it has just never worked out. I met this man during Christmas in a nightclub. When I first saw him I just had this nice feeling of “I like you”, and he chatted to me in a nice, kind way. We got to know each other, and then he kissed me. To make a long story short, I decided I wanted to know where I stood and I told him I liked him. But he said he just wanted to be friends and doesn’t want to be tied down. It wasn’t me, it was him, was the gist of it. I wasn’t asking for much, but I felt so silly and was upset by it. I felt ugly and unwanted and not good enough. He said I shouldn’t feel silly. He also said, “There’s plenty more fish in sea for you”, which annoyed me.
It’s hard to know what to do. Should I be friends with this guy or just let him go? I still like him. I wasn’t asking to be tied down either, I just want a person who shows he cares. We are both into sport, so we’ve a bit in common and I am older than him by about year. What would be your advice? Continue being his friend or put my feelings aside and move on completely?
ADVICE: You sound like a very normal 23-year-old woman who has a natural desire for a relationship, but the risk that is involved in engaging with the opposite sex can be traumatising. It is good that you recognised attraction in this guy. You have things in common, and clearly there was enough attraction for a kiss to happen. However, he is only 22 and may not be mature enough to handle a relationship, or he may only have experience of or desire for casual relationships at this stage in his life. This can feel like rejection to you, and it is hard not to take it personally.
As human beings we can often take in a rejection and then add to it with our own self-criticism and negative self-talk. This can make us suffer unnecessarily and can feed into our ideas of worthlessness. You say you felt you were “ugly, unwanted and not good enough”, and my guess is that your angry response was not just against the guy’s rejection but also against the comments you were making about yourself. None of these comments is true: if you were to speak these out loud to your friends they would be aghast and prove you wrong, because you are a worthy, natural and worthwhile person.
We need to be aware of our harsh thoughts and find a way of letting them go so that we are free to engage with life. Cognitive behaviour therapy offers a tried and tested method of challenging unwanted thoughts and there are many websites and books available to help you develop this skill. Perhaps a couple of sessions with a CBT therapist would hasten the process. A list of practitioners can be found on psychotherapy-ireland.com.
It took courage for you to speak honestly to this guy and this is something to be applauded. You will need more courage in the future to continue to risk relationships, because nothing can happen if you do not venture out and engage with the opposite sex.
You recognise the possibility of a friendship with him but I wonder what effect this would have on you, because you are feeling so vulnerable at the moment. If you stay in his circle, you might have to watch him chat to and engage with other girls and this might make you feel hurt and passed over. Do you really want to subject yourself to that? For now, perhaps you could focus your attention on guys that you might potentially like to date rather than on a friendship that might be upsetting.
If you are into sport, you have great possibilities of meeting guys naturally. You might join a club where you can get to know someone before meeting them in a dating situation. Another pointer for communication is that you might gauge where the other person is operating from and start there. For example, if the guy is young and not interested in commitment, then you engage with him from that place. Enjoy the attraction while it lasts and then let it go; you might at some time in the future get an opportunity to meet him again when he is more settled, and in the meantime you are not putting yourself through the upset of rejection.