How do I get over my ambivalance about relationships?
May 24, 2011 8:19 AM Subscribe
How do I get over my ambivalance about relationships or should I? Can I?
posted by anonymous to human relations (20 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry for the length. I'm a mid-thirties male. In a few months it will have been two years since my last relationship ended (largely amicably because of "big life goal" sorts of things, despite how I sound talking about my ex in this question), which was seven years long. I have gone on one date since then—more than a year ago—and had a (very atypical for me) week-long fling with someone almost a year ago. Both were, in retrospect, not great. Well, the date was horrible while I was having it, frankly.
So almost two years since my relationship ended I've realized I still can't handle the idea of dating, being in a relationship, and after the fling even sex has lost its appeal. I get lonely, more than I'd like, but I don't see that as a valid reason to be with someone. I also don't want kids and don't have any particular ambition towards getting married for being married's sake. So my motivation is low.
But I'm tortured by this constant thinking about relationships. I'm not sure if it's being lonely or the idea that I'm missing out on something I can't have or being bitter or what. I almost feel like I'm feeding on not allowing myself to engage with women in any romantic sort of way. I actually have a profile on a dating site (which I can't really use anyways since I am not in a stable enough situation to date in any one place) but I just re-write my profile over and over, and look at the women, and cross them off the list one-by-one without even writing to them—NO one gets past my filter (makes the constant rejection of dating sites easier I suppose). I back off immediately if women "in real life" flirt with me, but it's okay anyways since no one is really that attractive to me for some reason. And I have this weird fantasy about how I'll run into my ex ten years from now in a grocery store and she has two kids and a husband and I'm still pitifully single, and I just say I was never in a relationship again after you because you ruined me. It makes it sound like it's all about her, but it's not; it's all about all women, who I have a certain amount of resentment of and distrust of and mostly FEAR of (I mean, only relating to women and romance—I have plenty of female friends, I get along great with women! But I don't expose this part of myself to them).
So yeah, you don't have to point out I'm angry, hurt but also afraid of intimacy, commitment...just afraid really.
This is all a problem but the actual, real problem is that I don't have the desire to change. I seem to be enjoying this state like I enjoy poking at a sore tooth; it hurts but it's some sort of strangely satisfying hurt. This is what I'd like you to address in your responses, please.
Objectively I think I'm fucked up, like I'm not really functioning normally, but not so much that I can't function well day-to-day. In fact, seriously, I'm probably happier than I've been in my life! But I think ideally I'd like to either be (in order of preference) 1) completely happy single, without needing to frame things in terms of women, relationships, and especially my *%#!ing ex; or 2) happy or at least comfortable flirting with women and dating and all that shit. However I can't get past my complacency to find a way to either of these options. I just don't want to grow old and die bitter. I don't care if I never date again, but I don't want to be a bitter asshole the rest of my life.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not in a place, physically or logistically speaking, where I can seek therapy right now. I was in therapy up until a few months ago and we did work on this but didn't make a ton of headway (see the above "not wanting to change" thing). Nevertheless I'm still interested in therapy, I value it, and will seek it again when I can, but in this question I'm looking for suggestions of things I can do outside of that (until I can go back in), ways to re-think my mindset, or experiences that people have had where they were in a similar place as me and got out of it.