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Am I just happier being single?
July 22, 2008 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Am I just happier being single?

I'm a 33 year-old guy. Since my early 20's, I've been involved in five relationships that lasted long enough (say ~ 1 year or more) and had enough compatibility to contemplate getting married. In each of these cases I broke up with the woman, and in retrospect I know that was the right decision in four of the cases. The fifth case is a bit more ambiguous: I'm not 100% sure I made the right decision, but I am completely at peace with it.

About four months ago, I met the girl who is seemingly the girl of my dreams. She's super-smart, attractive, and fun to be around. To summarize, I don't really have any significant complaints and, although I realize that these are still early days, I think that I have enough relationship experience to realize that this is different. One downside is that we live about 2 hours away from each other, for the next year, or so. We used to live in the same city.

So, good for me, end of story, right? Unfortunately, no. Over the past few weeks, I've begun to feel pretty uneasy about being in a relationship. Part of these feelings probably originate from the fact that we're pretty much spending all of our weekends together, since we rarely see each other during the week. This can leave little time alone or time alone with friends. I imagine that this is fairly normal challenge, and something that we can address.

The potentially more worrisome issue for me is that I've noticed that I generally feel / act like a slightly different person when I'm in a relationship versus when I'm single. I feel more constrained, less fun, less outgoing, less positive, and less energetic. Coupled with a packed schedule, these feelings can make it challenging to make new friends in the area that I've just moved to.

I know that there might be a little bit of a grass-is-greener syndrome happening here, and I recognize that this is something I might want to seek a professional opinion on, which I'm not opposed to, but I'd still like to hear what some of you think.

Specifically, I would like to know if any of you have ever felt similarly ambivalent about someone who was clearly awesome and clearly a better match for you than anyone you had dated in the past. What did you do about it? Are you happy with the decision? A large part of me thinks I should just plow ahead, while working out these details with a therapist, since she is clearly a catch.

On the other hand, are you someone who has decided that you're happier being single? I know that there are threads about this, but I'm particularly interested in hearing from those who have made this decision in the absence of any particularly bad relationship experiences. My relationships have been pretty good, for the most part, but I noticed after my last breakup (before the current gf) that I became happier, more active, healthier, and more engaged with the world. Of course, this was only a 3-4 month sample, so I may not have felt that way if it had been years. If you've taken this path, how has this turned out for you? Are you happy with the decision?

Thanks a bunch. You've all been so helpful in the past and I love you for that!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
*Sigh* Nobody's ever happy with what they've got. I have never broken up with someone just for the sake of being single, so I'm not going to address that. I will tell you that I think it takes a lot out of you to make things work in a relationship, and you do have to do more "emotional work" than if you're single because stuff surfaces so much easier when you're with someone else, and then you have to handle it as soon as it does for the sake of the relationship as opposed as being able to sweep it under the rug which you can do if you're on your own. So, do you love her? Sounds like you do... That's half the glass full already.
posted by neblina_matinal at 7:54 AM on July 22, 2008


Look, man. A big part of being in an actual relationship is that some of what you call your "identity" becomes subsumed in the other person, and vice versa. If this isn't an exciting and engrossing process, then you're not ready to really be with another person.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:55 AM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


It sounds to me like you just haven't found somebody you want to settle down with yet. And the word "love" does not appear once in your question.

"I don't really have any significant complaints" does not equal love, or a recipe for marriage. Neither does the fact that she's a better match than those that came before. She still may not be the right match for you. You shouldn't substitute a social pressure to be in a relationship for love, if you're not really clicking. If you were, I think you would have described her differently. As it is it sounds like you're describing a friend. You're describing her attributes instead of describing how you feel about her. It's like you're forcing it. But hell, I could just be reading too much into it.

You might have issues with intimacy, or you might just be too worried about fulfilling a social obligation to find a mate. If you're concerned about it, it would make sense to see the therapist. But I would think about whether you're really "happier being single" or just not really as into your relationship as you think you are, or think you should be.
posted by dosterm at 8:01 AM on July 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


You know, you might not actually be into this girl? You describe her as a good match and a 'catch', which is pretty ambiguous and reduces her to a bunch of traits, not a person. Why do you think she suits? Does she have child bearing hips? Similar economic goals? A shared love for soufflé and Canadian Jazz?
posted by Phalene at 8:02 AM on July 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


since she is clearly a catch.

You can catch the biggest trout in the stream, but if you don't like the taste of trout, there's not much point in taking it home, eh?

I'm someone who's decided I'm happier being single (and yes, I started a thread about it). I definitely made the decision in the absence of particularly bad relationship experiences - my only one was over 8 years ago. I've been generally happy but I know there is a room in my heart that I've closed and locked. Its all about trade-offs.

I think the ideal person for you is the one who is awesome but who also makes / encourages you to be happier, more active, healthier, and more engaged with the world. I don't think that person is out there for everyone. That said, it's still about trade-offs. You're going to have to give something up even for the perfect person.

But you definitely give something up by going your own road, too.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:03 AM on July 22, 2008 [9 favorites]


I could totally relate to what you are saying.......I am not sure whether I am necessarily happier...but I could say that after being in relationships for 7 straight years I find that now that I am single a lot of my individual projects seem to get done much much faster. I am an artist and since my break up 5 months ago I've tripled the amount of connections I had before....I am on the verge of recording the demo I didnt have the time to record before and well I finally took the time to get in the best shape of my life. I too spent most of the weekends with my gf and always felt suffocated with the fact that she didnt seem to blend in with my life and it was more like "Now I have to make time for......" Now I am not saying I am "happier" (though I am finally at the point where I am just neutral about the whole thing") but my individual endeavors are finally getting the push that they need.

On another note I also recently met a really good candidate but nevertheless I decided that I will stay single at least for a year before i get into another relationship....I think it'll do me good....maybe you should give it a try....
posted by The1andonly at 8:08 AM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wait, no, I misspoke, the word love is in your question. You said you love us, but you didn't say you love this girl.
posted by dosterm at 8:11 AM on July 22, 2008


I've begun to feel pretty uneasy about being in a relationship. Part of these feelings probably originate from the fact that we're pretty much spending all of our weekends together, since we rarely see each other during the week. This can leave little time alone or time alone with friends.

Little time...except for all week long? If you're feeling smothered by time constraints in a semi-long distance relationship, that's kind of a red flag, isn't it? I'm with Burhanistan, here -- if being in a relationship isn't making you happy, then don't be in a relationship. (But don't then complain that your relationships never work out.)

I was happily single for a long time. By happily, I don't mean that I was always happy every second, but my energy was more invested in my close friendships than it was in finding lurve, and thus I didn't get entangled in Serious Relationships. Eventually, I found someone that I liked more than everyone else.
posted by desuetude at 8:27 AM on July 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


Of course, the drawback of Not Getting Entangled in Serious Relationships is that it may mean that you don't get to have sex with the girls with whom you'd prefer to have sex. If you crave the usually-better sex that comes with some emotional intimacy, but aren't really interested in the rest of the emotional intimacy, you're going to find intentional singleness a tough road. I hope that it goes without saying that it's not fair to string women along...if you're not on the same page, they shouldn't be in your bed. (Apologies for the somewhat mixed-metaphor, there.)
posted by desuetude at 8:40 AM on July 22, 2008


How do you feel when you are single? What are your complaints then? Do you long for somebody to laugh with, have sex with, talk to? When you are single, do you seek out a partner? Pain has no memory, and so sometimes its easy to forget the bad parts of another situation when you are reminded of the negatives of the one you are in. It also could be that you are simply more comfortable being single–which doesn't necessarily mean you should be (if you're doing it because you're avoiding facing something about the alternative). Relationships are a challenge; intimacy is a challenge, and you've had more experience being You outside of a relationship than in one. Maybe you don't like the challenge and are just happier doing the things you're comfortable doing, and being 100% in control of your world. But being in relationship doesn't mean you have to give up all of your needs (and comforts), like your need to build a local social support network...it just means you have to gain the experience of handling more tasks at once (relationship AND social networking).

I generally feel / act like a slightly different person when I'm in a relationship versus when I'm single. I feel more constrained, less fun, less outgoing, less positive, and less energetic.
Do you blame the relationship for this? Does the relationship make you feel this way? If so, maybe try to think about these feelings from a different perspective. "Why do I change when I am in a relationship? Why do I allow this to happen? Am I now seeing things about myself I may need to change/work on? Or are these negative feelings warning signs, things about my partner or the relationship that need to change? Can they change?" Maybe you ARE just "happier being single". But recognize that "happier being single" in this situation could also be a positive spin on "not comfortable with commitment", or "unable to deal with intimacy", or "control-freak who doesn't play nice with others", or myriad other common human relationship labels. I could also be completely wrong about this–just throwing some of the less-than-fun possibilities out there.

Personally, I think that from the tone of your post, it sounds to me like you're simply in some sort of a rut. And so I'm not surprised you're thinking of exit strategies. Maybe this time try a different way out. Talk to your gf about space and weekends. Mix things up a bit. Do something spontaneous, like finding a way to see each other during the week. Or getting out of town, together. Try to experience each other in a new way. And if *that* doesn't stimulate you, then get out. But at least commit to figuring it out and making it work before you jump ship.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:42 AM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


desuetude: I hope that it goes without saying that it's not fair to string women along...if you're not on the same page, they shouldn't be in your bed.

Burhanistan:A big part of being in an actual relationship is that some of what you call your "identity" becomes subsumed in the other person

There's some truth in these statements. But then again, there is an extraordinarily prevalent assumption throughout most of our society that the relationship you're in has to be the single most overridingly important thing in your life, and this just isn't true. Don't fall for the false dichotomy between staying single or subjugating everything else you do in your life to a relationship. Each of those works for many people, but there's a whole lot of gray in between. Sure, there are some minimum requirements to do with not deceiving a partner, not being emotionally absent in the relationship, and not respecting that the relationship might indeed be the most important thing in your SO's life.

At risk of putting the cat among the pigeons, I will also venture the thought that generally speaking, the relationship-in-first-place perspective may be more common among women and the relationship-as-one-element-among-several-very-important-ones may be more common among men. They can work perfectly well together, I think. The question to ask, then, might be: are you making yourself unhappy in relationships because of thoughts in your head about the monumental weightiness of what it means to be in a relationship? What would happen if you let go of those thoughts?
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:07 AM on July 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


(sorry: and respecting that the relationship might indeed be the most important thing in your SO's life.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:08 AM on July 22, 2008


I just got out of a two-year monogamous relationship that came close on the heels of a five-year monogamous relationship. I'm single, and I'm happier than I've been in a long, long time.

Not everyone is meant to be partnered, and I've come to realize that I have neither the skill nor the desire to be someone's boyfriend. Being single might not be for everyone, but if you're the sort of person who thrives on it, you will do no favors to yourself or the people around you if you try to force yourself into a relationship.

You sound as though you don't need a girlfriend, and no woman needs a boyfriend who would rather be doing something else.

Some people in this thread have suggested that your sex will be less satisfying without emotional intimacy, or that you can't have emotional intimacy while remaining single. I can only speak from my own experiences and those of my friends, but I'm telling you that those claims are not universally true.

My only advice to you, should you choose to be single, is not to wall yourself off from people. I'm single, but I also spend a great deal of time in the company of others. You might be surprised to discover how much more your company is sought out by friends when they find out that you're no longer attached. Frankly, couples are kind of boring to everyone around them. When you go to a party and everyone knows who everyone else is taking home, the party has a much harder time going anywhere interesting. Single people get invited everywhere worth being.

The greatest enemy of remaining single is loneliness, so spend time with people, love without reservation, and make sure that the people who matter to you know how much you treasure them. If you can manage that, everything else is a cake walk.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:08 AM on July 22, 2008 [12 favorites]


I'll qualify what I'm about to say by admitting that I come into these conversations with the conviction that everyone, at the end of the day, if they're being honest, would actually would prefer the intimacy of relationships than a life of infinite singledom. Some people conclude that it's just not worth it the effort to make a relationship happen, but I think that's because of issues/baggage that they just don't want to work on as opposed to it really being an advisable strategy for life.

So, fwiw, I think you've got some pretty serious commitment issues that you should start to take a look at if you think you might want to eventually settle down and make a relationship work. I think you're afraid of really letting yourself fall into this one, because you'll lose too much of your identity, freedom, ability to foster other relationships, there's a myriad of possible reasons. I'd start to explore some of that, either in casual therapy (none of this really is "problem" territory yet it seems) or just by doing some reading. (He's Afraid, She's Afraid is a pretty good book.)

And having been through kind of a similar experience from the other side, I can also say that it's kind of unfair to the person that you're with if you've got fundamental doubts like this that you aren't expressing. I'm not saying break up with her, but trying to flag that you're not sure you ever want the commitment of a relationship seems only fair. People (usually guys?) can sometimes have a reverse strategy when it comes to finding a partner: they think if she's just enough of a catch, they'll be convinced to give up their freedoms and settle down. Tough thing is, not many women are ever going to be able to live up to that. You've got to get to a point where you want a relationship first, and then find the right person to have it with.
posted by smallstatic at 9:16 AM on July 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


Look, man. A big part of being in an actual relationship is that some of what you call your "identity" becomes subsumed in the other person, and vice versa. If this isn't an exciting and engrossing process, then you're not ready to really be with another person.

Very wrong!


You have to re-define what "single" is. To me, people are not meant to be monogamous. It's an unnatural state of being. I have an SO who is a lot like the girl you described, but we spend a lot of time apart and do our own thing. I suggest you bring this up to your girlfriend and see what she thinks.
posted by Zambrano at 9:18 AM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


desuetude: I hope that it goes without saying that it's not fair to string women along...if you're not on the same page, they shouldn't be in your bed.

Burhanistan:A big part of being in an actual relationship is that some of what you call your "identity" becomes subsumed in the other person

There's some truth in these statements. But then again, there is an extraordinarily prevalent assumption throughout most of our society that the relationship you're in has to be the single most overridingly important thing in your life, and this just isn't true.


That wasn't really stated or implied in either statement. But, one would have to be very emotionally childish to not expect that being in a long term relationship with someone else wouldn't be a process of shared growth/change. I'm not sure what society you're referring to, but in the USA I've never really seen evidence that a relationship has to be the "most important thing in your life". But again, it's silly to expect to be in a relationship and have the same kind of dynamic with your partner that you have with friends and/or co-workers. If you're not in a real dyad (dynamic), then you're just like toddlers who play next to each other, occupying the same space, but don't really know how to play with each other.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 AM on July 22, 2008


Sorry for the double post but-

What happens is people in these exclusive relationships all believe think they are monogamous and then they usually wind up having affairs anyway. Why? Because the need for something new and different builds up to a point where you just can't take it anymore - and then everybody loses, because it's been taken for granted for all that time you were together that you were both monogamous.

If you take the sensible approach- by spending time apart from the get-go- no one gets hurt. Discretion is the only thing you have to be faithful to.
posted by Zambrano at 9:26 AM on July 22, 2008


'm not sure what society you're referring to, but in the USA I've never really seen evidence that a relationship has to be the "most important thing in your life". But again, it's silly to expect to be in a relationship and have the same kind of dynamic with your partner that you have with friends and/or co-workers.

Well, this is precisely the false dichotomy I'm referring to. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on the societal prevalence of the message that relationships are the absolute key to fulfilment and happiness and should be the most important thing in your life — to me that's abundantly the message promulgated by half the magazines I see, half the novels I read, half the movies I watch, and the opinions and behavior of many of the people I know. But there are acres of gray here. It's not about suggesting that the OP should expect a relationship to be like a friendship or a co-worker acquaintanceship. I'm just suggesting that he might be the kind of person who values his creative projects (or whatever) even more than all his personal relationships, even while you'd expect his relationship with a girlfriend to be the most valued and close of those relationships... and that this set of priorities does not require him to stay single.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:30 AM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, this is precisely the false dichotomy I'm referring to.

Actually, the false dichotomy you're referring to is when you try to conjoin those statements.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:37 AM on July 22, 2008


I generally feel / act like a slightly different person when I'm in a relationship

On some level you are lumping all the time you've spent in relationships together, even though they were all with different women and at different times in your life. This is a tremendous fallacy. While you can look to avoid acknowledged tendencies in your character that trouble you, entering into a new relationship with a new person is a new thing, period. Make of that whatever you can.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 9:41 AM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Specifically, I would like to know if any of you have ever felt similarly ambivalent about someone who was clearly awesome and clearly a better match for you than anyone you had dated in the past.

Yep; he was practically my twin. It would've scared me if he wasn't such a wonderful person. But I wasn't at a point in my life where I was willing to put in any work into dating, period. I had to give him the whole cliched "it's not you, it's me" reason for our quasi-breakup and hoped that he understood it was true. I eventually came back around to the dating mindset, but for whatever reason I couldn't try again with him. Simply being a good match for each other wasn't enough to make me want to pursue something with him. He was a total catch, but for whatever reason I just wasn't feeling it. I can't even begin to understand why, let alone explain it.

Sometimes, something that would be otherwise perfect falls victim to circumstance. That's life. Make relationship compromises surely and with conviction, and not because you think you should be heading down that road. Don't resist singlehood if that's what you really want!
posted by phatkitten at 9:44 AM on July 22, 2008


There's some truth in these statements. But then again, there is an extraordinarily prevalent assumption throughout most of our society that the relationship you're in has to be the single most overridingly important thing in your life, and this just isn't true. Don't fall for the false dichotomy between staying single or subjugating everything else you do in your life to a relationship. Each of those works for many people, but there's a whole lot of gray in between. Sure, there are some minimum requirements to do with not deceiving a partner, not being emotionally absent in the relationship, and not respecting that the relationship might indeed be the most important thing in your SO's life.

game warden, when I said that I was happily single for many years because I didn't think that a romantic relationship was The Most Important Thing, I didn't mean that I lived in monk-like celibacy or eschewed all relationships. But I didn't skip off to meet the grandparents, either. The risk you take in keeping your emotional distance is that your partner may move on to someone more willing to grow in the relationship.
posted by desuetude at 9:50 AM on July 22, 2008


The potentially more worrisome issue for me is that I've noticed that I generally feel / act like a slightly different person when I'm in a relationship versus when I'm single.

I feel like a slightly different person when Im out with old friends than with my gf. Old friends means being somewhat rowdy, telling lots of bad jokes, and lots of years of back references. The truth is that we act differently with all people, and in my case I act slightly more like an adult with her. I suspect the same may be true of you. The problem comes in when youre the only single guy after all your pals have married.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:51 AM on July 22, 2008


Specifically, I would like to know if any of you have ever felt similarly ambivalent about someone who was clearly awesome and clearly a better match for you than anyone you had dated in the past.

Yes. I dated him for three years, moved in with him, got engaged, broke the engagement but thought I just wasn't ready but could work on it, went through therapy, and broke up slowly and painfully. We had become best friends and were very attached to each other but were not meant to be "together forever," which was clear from the outset.

But he was such a great catch!

Monogamy might be for you, or it might not.

You must be upfront and honest with your partner(s) before you begin an ongoing sexual relationship; you must do your best to keep your partner(s) disease-free.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:18 AM on July 22, 2008


I am pretty similar to you- 32 y.o guy, although I have been in fewer "serious" relationships.

I recently broke up with someone who I (initially) liked very much. She was good looking, funny, we liked the same music and books, blah blah blah. But on a deeper level, she didn't really seem to understand or even care about me.

The point of this is not to bitch about old girlfriends but to say what I think is the issue for me, and maybe you:

I just haven't met anyone I'm really compatible with yet. It seems like I would have met 100s of them, but I don't think I have ever met one in my life, or if I did I didn't date her. It sounds like you're like me and you don't want to be with someone just for the sake of being with someone. When you have high standards like that, a lot of people are going to disappoint you. Think about how many platonic friends you have that you feel really, truly compatible with, and where you think it'll stay that way for the rest of your life. I have one, and I didn't meet her until I was over 30. And relationships are even harder b/c you need all those things PLUS physical attraction.

So maybe, deep down, you aren't really that compatible with your current gf? It can be really hard to admit when the person you're with is great in a lot of ways.

It could also be that you're "not a relationship person," but just because you haven't met anyone* you're fully compatible with YET, doesn't mean it will never happen. Or that's what I tell myself.

*note I didn't say "the one," I hate that silly-ass shit
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:35 AM on July 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


One downside is that we live about 2 hours away from each other, for the next year, or so.

This could actually be the problem -- you're in a long distance relationship. I know, I know, 2 hours of travel doesn't seem like it counts, and sure, it's not the same as being on different coasts. But I've been in relationships where we were separated by 2 or more states (Western States, not your teeny little Eastern States ;), and I've been in a relationship where we were only separated by 2 hours of driving. And they have a lot in common. Once someone lives that far away, evening visits are impractical. You often ended up shunted into a kind of bipolar relationship life with intense "on" periods (usually weekends) followed by distant "off" periods. The disconnect messes with your head and makes you wonder what's real, and can be disorienting on an almost physical level. You can't really share a social community, and like you said, you might even have trouble maintaining your own social circle (something there's often enough trouble negotiating that even in normal relationships). LDRs can have bad juju.

I say this not to tell you to stay inside a 1-hour radius no matter what. But I think it's worth considering that the problems associated with an LDR can drag down what would otherwise be a pretty good relationship.

So one thing you might want to consider: one of you should move closer. Moves have their own stress and their own problems, but doing it even for a little while could get the problems associated with distance off your back and give you a chance to figure out whether this really is the girl of your dreams or whether you're happier single.
posted by wildblueyonder at 10:37 AM on July 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


If I could favourite wildblueyonder's comment above a hundred times I would and here's why: I had the same thing as you're describing happen to me. I'm early thirties, string of mid-term r/ships that I've generally been the one to leave. Then last summer I met someone ace - just before I left town for a new job. Over time I resented 'new man' for keeping me from 'new life', and I'm hyper independant so don't feel the 'need' to be with him. So I broke it off. Then after a further four months realised that the inceyness from being with him was nothing compared to how much I missed him. And that was a shock.

So we started again and I saw how much of the inceyness was due to the distance - I've never been a 'couply' gal, I've always had boyfriends kind of at arm's length to some degree but you can't do that in an LDR - it's all or nothing, and I *hate* that. But now I get it and I can say when it gets too much, and he totally understands. Which is what makes me think it's worth hanging on for, at least til we're back in the same city sometime next year and can work it out one way or the other.

So, I don't know if you're better off single but there's my experience for the sharing. Good luck!
posted by freya_lamb at 12:54 PM on July 22, 2008


Like you, I've only ever had generally positive relationships, and used to be a serial monogamist. Recently (as expressed in similar kinds of threads) I've labelled myself as "happy to be single" (which sometimes goes by the term "quirkyalone").

This translates roughly into "ok with the idea of potentially being in a relationship, but otherwise content & busy enough for singledom not to be a problem". It usually also means that forming a relationship involves a conscious sacrifice of aspects of a busy lifestyle built up over time, which might cause some resistance to the idea of getting something off the ground in the first place.

If this kind of attitude applies to you at all, I'd suggest that you give this new relationship of yours a go. Philosophically, it's an easier proposition to move from coupledom into singledom than vice versa, in the sense that it's harder to find a suitable partner than it is to find yourself just getting up in the morning & doing whatever you do. So if you have something up & running already, why not go with the flow?

This is assuming a quirkyalone kind of ambivalence, which is what I read in your question - ie that it's much of a muchness whichever route you take.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:13 AM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sounds to me like you've been stricken by the commitment virus. She may be all of the things you've imagined a perfect woman should be but it requires compromise on your part and that's the hard part for someone who enjoys being single. Your imagination just doesn't have the full range of reality. You might inquire of her if she would like some decompression time, time to be with her friends and do her things without your presence. That should lead to an interesting discussion to be sure.

Enjoy.
posted by ptm at 6:40 AM on July 23, 2008


Your life is complicated by the combo of a new gf, LDR, and having moved. Part of your problem is establishing a social life. You're probably good at that, as a single guy. Maybe you even handle it well with a gf that's around. But a non-single guy with a gf in another town is really a puzzle. When you're always engrossed with that gf on weekends, what's left?

I don't think you have sufficient data to make any determinations other than that you aren't coping well with the situation. Doing every weekend together is only going to work if at least half of those weekends are in your new location. You have to work the tricks of building a social life together. And you have to learn to be alone, together (and that can be tricky!)

Do you like being single? Maybe you do. Or maybe you're just cracking under the strain of a difficult situation. Living in a new city can take all a guy's attention he can afford to give it, outside of his efforts at work (which likely also requires lots of effort to shine, in a new position).

Your situation is not one to go jumping to deep conclusions about your life-long expectations. Your relationship may fail simply because there isn't enough of yourself to apply to all these varied issues. Or, you may manage to stay the course, and sort things out. Probably it would be good if you took a weekend for yourself, alone. Can you manage to get that without making unwarranted trouble with your gf? She has to be able to give you space, just as much as you have to be able to take it.
posted by Goofyy at 9:51 AM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I feel more constrained, less fun, less outgoing, less positive, and less energetic. Coupled with a packed schedule, these feelings can make it challenging to make new friends in the area that I've just moved to.

I think it's generally harder to make friends when you're in a relationship. Almost all of my friends are in a serious relationship, and I didn't even notice until I became suddenly single myself. I actually put out an ad on Craiglist for more female friends--and guess what? Everyone who replied is married/has a serious boyfriend. When you have a significant other, you have permanent plans, and no nagging motivation to find other people to be social with.

Like you, I find myself more outgoing and carefree when I'm single. In large part, I chalk this up to the fact that most of my past relationships haven't been great; there was usually a lot more time spent on improving things than going out and experiencing the world together. That doesn't seem to be the problem in your case, though, although you may find you have problems if you continue to date this woman but have lingering doubts. Likely she'll pick up on some of them, and be uneasy.

In any case, I have been ambivalent in many relationships, but I decided the intimacy was always worth the loss of Chipper Singledom.
posted by timoni at 3:04 PM on September 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


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