Tell Me About It: You might take this opportunity of singledom to draw breath and allow yourself to fully experience all the emotions arising in your life
My boyfriend of a year just broke up with me and I immediately got back on a dating app. I moved to Ireland on my own and have been living alone for the past six years which has led me to seek out committed relationships, one after another. I haven’t been single since I was 18 (I’m 22 now). I miss him a lot, he was supportive and caring, but we both knew we were on different career and life paths.
I’m afraid I miss having the stability more than the person. I am busy all the time with extra classes besides my 9-6 job. And, on weekends, I meet up with as many people as possible. I try to avoid being by myself, but it is an inevitable part of life.
I don’t understand how people can stand to be without a partner or find fulfilment in life without being in a relationship. I enjoy my job and all my activities greatly, but I am not content doing it all on my own.
There are a number of factors here that you need to reflect upon: the nature of life and how loneliness is an integral part of it, the fact that we are social animals and that it is a struggle to live without a community, the fact that you have had grief and loss in your life (the end of a relationship) and the possibility you have not fully processed that grief in your desire to move on.
Sixteen was a very young age at which not to have the back-up of family or community behind you, but other people do move away from home at this age so you should find people to empathise with you. Your desire to find a close and caring partner for a committed relationship is understandable, but you might take this opportunity of singledom to draw a breath and allow yourself to fully experience all the emotions arising in your life.
The nature of human life is that it comes with grief and loss, and we need to accept this as part of our development
Your response to break-up by getting straight back on a dating app may not be the best thing for you right now, as we all need to learn how to tolerate discomfort and loneliness. The danger of finding all your fulfilment in a relationship is that you lose some of the meaning in your life if that relationship doesn’t work out. Furthermore, it may well put too much pressure on your partner to meet your most intense needs.
This time between relationships can offer you the opportunity to figure out your own sense of self, your principles and how to find your own personal joy in life. It might be an idea to increase your time alone and learn how to gain insight from it. A mindfulness course, meditation group or yoga programme can teach you how to sit quietly with yourself and observe all that goes on in your mind. You might find that thoughts of “fear” govern your actions, eg, fear of loneliness, fear that you by yourself are not enough, fear of abandonment etc. The problem is that these thoughts of fear can become your automatic response and fear can begin to govern your life, almost without you knowing it. As you learn to spot these thoughts and beliefs, you will find that you can let them go without attaching yourself to them.
Committing to your social life (as you are doing) will serve you well, but having a few close and honest friendships is crucial
Of course this takes time and practice, but it will be well worth the effort. The nature of human life is that it comes with grief and loss, and we need to accept this as part of our development. If we do not process this pain, we can repeat coping mechanisms that inevitably do us harm. What you want is to have a fulfilling life for yourself that you may wish to share with someone you think highly of, but one where you are not dependent on that person to provide your meaning and happiness.
Ultimately, we are responsible for our own happiness. This is not to say that happiness does not include others, but finding contentment in our own skins is key to wellbeing. If we believe that somebody else is responsible for our happiness, we will feel good when they are totally focused on us and think we are wonderful – and feel bad when they are distracted or uninterested in us. There may be endless reasons why someone is “off” with us and at these times we need a strong social circle and a strong sense of self so that we do not overreact.
Committing to your social life (as you are doing) will serve you well, but having a few close and honest friendships is crucial – have you spoken to any of your “inner circle people” about what you are going through? They may have similar experiences to share and may too be interested in finding inner peace or at least learning how to handle fear and gaining a quiet mind along with you.
The first step is not to dismiss your current discomfort by jumping into another relationship, but to take yourself seriously and commit to discovering the real meaning of fulfilment in your life.