How do I prevent myself from thinking I'm alone forever
December 8, 2012 2:07 PM   Subscribe

A short-term relationship just ended, and I'm okay With that. But how do I stop myself from going down the spiral of "I'm going to be alone forever"?

A promising 6-week relationship just ended because he thought I was amazing but didn't think it was a match. I understand that, had sensed there was some hesitation, and was unsure if I was getting everything I needed, so I can come to terms with this. I only want to be with someone who is super excited to be with me. I think he handled it in the best way possible given the circumstances.

But the fact remains: I'm 31 and I feel like I meet fewer and fewer single men I connect with. How do I prevent myself from going down a spiral of "single forever/never going to meet someone"? I have an active social life, a successful career, and I'm in therapy, but haven't had that much dating luck since my last relationship broke up a year and a half ago. The truth is I don't like to be single and am aching to be coupled up (with the right person). I feel like I've done everything I can and nothing has yielded the relationship I want.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
You smile at good looking strangers and go out on the town at night. And you remain realistic. Be your friend. And know that nearly no one will ever find that one person it all just feels right with magically. Stay a romantic. It'll be okay.
posted by discopolo at 2:19 PM on December 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

There are a lot of people on this planet. That doesn't mean that you'll meet the perfect match, so yeah, you might be alone forever. But that spiral starts with hopelessness and despair. You should mourn this guy, but not extrapolate because this relationship wasn't right. You haven't met the right guy yet, and you might not, but you might. You don't know what's going to happen in the future. You can only keep meeting people and hope you eventually meet the right guy.
posted by DoubleLune at 2:29 PM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Think about it this way - the more you let yourself fear being alone forever, the more likely you will be because men will pick up on that and feel like something is off.

What do you mean by "not much dating luck?" Not many dates, or not many matches? You dated this person, and even though they weren't a fit the fact that you did find a relationship is an indicator that you won't be "alone forever."

Have you tried online dating? Meeting people through friends? Look for avenues you haven't tried when you're feeling discouraged. You say you've done everything you can - brainstorm different things you can try. Remind yourself that it only took you [x] time to find someone, which I'm guessing couldn't have been that long factoring in healing time from the last relationship.
posted by Autumn at 2:42 PM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had the same experience -- less dating and more gaps between relationships in my 30s. When I ended a bad relationship (as in, a DTMFA relationship) in my late 30s, I figured that was it, I was out of time. I decided to just date, since no long term relationship was in my future any more. I answered 3 newspaper ads, and my Bear was one of the three. Though I had serious doubts by then about my own judgment, given my choice of the MFA I'd last been involved with, the relationship with the Bear was so easy and wonderful from the start that I caved in and fell in love with him. And we've been living as happily ever after since then as people ever do in real life.

So -- relax. Be OK with yourself. Date for fun and stay social. Over and over, we seem to meet the people who are right for us when we aren't looking and pushing and wishing and worrying about whether we ever will.
posted by bearwife at 2:53 PM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I remind myself that, even if I'd prefer to be with someone, being on my own is still better than being in a relationship with a person who is not right for me. There is no amount of alone time that is worse than a crappy or boring relationship.

Then I hope for the best and enjoy my life.
posted by amycup at 3:05 PM on December 8, 2012 [18 favorites]

I feel like I've done everything I can and nothing has yielded the relationship I want.

This makes it sound ever-so-slightly like "I've tried as hard as I can to be worthy." A huge piece of finding the right person is just plain luck. You need to give it time and give it opportunity, but there is an element of this that is simply out of your control.

My feeling has always been that you can encourage luck with numbers, however. If finding a partner is a priority for you, date the snot out of OK Cupid, tell all your friends to set you up on blind dates, try speed dating, and consider a serious dating agency that does personal, hand-picked introductions.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:46 PM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

How do I prevent myself from going down a spiral of "single forever/never going to meet someone"?

That isn't a "spiral," it's a sentence. One way to not go down that... sentence... is that when you say it to yourself, follow it up with a counterargument.

You can't change the fact that you're single right now. You can either have a positive attitude about what's possible, or a negative one. One of those two is going to be more constructive than the other.

Having a positive attitude is a simple matter of, when you think the "single forever" type sentences, follow them up with something else that is constructive. The stuff the posters here have said is one option... or you can come up with your own counterarguments.
posted by kellybird at 4:44 PM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Recognize that the totalizing thought here is a distortion. Nothing is forever, except possibly death, depending on who you believe.

You'll have single times, you'll have coupled times; try to enjoy all of them for what they are, rather than trying to read them as the totality of your life. That's a habit of thought that only causes sorrow.
posted by ead at 10:14 PM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I believe what you’re doing is referred to as awfulizing, distorted thinking where you imagine and are locked into the worst possible outcome, that you’ll never meet someone and never be happy. Isn’t this what your shrink is supposed to help you stop doing? Well relax, you’ve got Mefi on your side.

I feel like I've done everything I can and nothing has yielded the relationship I want. That’s the telltale sentence right there. You’re obviously an intelligent person and know that’s not really true. But you’re stuck in a circular thinking pattern of I’m never gonna meet the right guy. A more realistic observation would be maybe you won’t meet the right guy, but probably you will. I’m sure that outside objective observers (we Mefites) would see the odds as being strongly in your favor. And it’s not like there’s one person out there that you have to somehow be lucky enough to cross paths with, there’s lots of guys, different kinds of guys, guys that could be your match.

So what to do? Well, do everything you can to swing the odds, and it is a numbers game. So as DarlingBri so eloquently put it date the snot out of OkCupid. Maybe those Motown guys said it better “Fish isn’t on your line, bait your hook and keep on tryin’”. You don’t have to go crazy, just keep youself out there and try to do as many activities you like where you’re likely to meet new people. Dating sites, meetups, volunteering (which has the added benefit of feeling you’re doing good deeds), professional associations, the bar scene.

You know that Motown song is called “Too Many Fish in the Sea”, and there’s a good reason that dating site is named Plenty of Fish. If you think about it, you’re fortunate there are so many ways to meet people that 10 years ago didn’t exist. The odds really are greatly in your favor.

And think on this. Let’s say a year from now you meet your dreamboat, and the preceding year was spent locked in worry and anxiety about your perceived situation. It would have been a wasted year lost to needless worry. What you’re doing now is robbing yourself of the enjoyment you should be getting out of your life right now. Don’t do that. You’re young, free, and probably not suffering from a fatal you know how many people in this world would switch places with you in a heartbeat? I don’t know about you, but 99 per cent of the things I worry about never come to pass.
posted by PaulBGoode at 1:05 AM on December 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

I know how you feel. I also worry about ending up alone forever.

Definitely try OkCupid.

Another thing you might want to try is a dating coach. I just started talking to one... if you're interested in details, you can memail me and I'll let you know how my experience has been so far.
posted by commitment at 9:47 AM on December 11, 2012

You may actually be asking the wrong question. Depending on how independent the emotional part of your brain is from the logical part, there may be no magic bullet and the only actual way you could prevent yourself from thinking this way is to be in another relationship. Sorry to say that you may be screwed* as far as this way of thinking until your next bf is lined up.

* I'm IN a relationship and I still deal with feelings of being afraid I'm going to be alone forever, heh. Talk about screwed; I know screwed.

Maybe the question you should be asking is "How do I get into a great relationship as soon as possible?" One answer to THAT question is to treat it like a job. Put time into it every day. Be on a schedule. Think outside the box. Define your requirements. Enforce discipline in achieving your goals. Work hard, work smart. Etc.
posted by TheManChild2000 at 3:58 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

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