My twenties are wasting away and I'm unhappy, how can I be happier?
April 11, 2014 12:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm almost 26, and I don't have the relationship I wanted to have my this age. Being single is starting to feel like a waste of life, and I don't know what to do.

I feel so unhappy. I know I’ve posted about this before, but I just can’t shake it off. Therapy, psychics, dance, yoga, daily exercise, self-help reading, meeting new friends, I’ve tried it all. Nothing fills the empty space in my life where a special someone should be. I HATE being single so much, and I don’t know what to do. I can never seem to keep a man around for longer than a few months, and eventually, they end up meeting someone gorgeous that they actually want a long term relationship with.

I hate sleeping alone and I hate waking up alone. My 26th birthday is in two months, and what do you know, another year that I don’t have a boyfriend to celebrate it with. Most people feel depressed over the winter, but my depression increases when the weather gets warmer, because that’s when all the couples are going on their vacations and shore trips, and here I am, living with my parents, being a lonely loser. I don’t want to hang out with my friends, because they all got boyfriends in the past year and a half, and I don’t want to hear about what they’ve been up to and that everyone’s having more sex than I am.

“Learn to happy alone and love will follow.” What a load of bullshit. I do fun, happy stuff all the time, and I don’t see any relationship working out for me. I was asked by a therapist to think back to a time when I was happiest and to recreate that in my life to feel better. Well, that time was two years ago, the last time I had a boyfriend. I’m not happy alone. I can’t be happy alone. I’ve tried it. I’m meant to be with someone, I like being part a couple, and it’s happening for everyone else besides me and it’s really pissing me off. I’m starting to get really bad acne and gaining a lot of weight from the stress and unhappiness. (Even though I exercise almost daily). It also doesn’t help that I graduated with a Master’s in December and my job search (for a higher education administrative job) is going extremely slow, and I also feel a lack of motivation because feel so lonely and depressed. I quit my awful job of two years in Child Care because I couldn’t take it anymore, and living with my parents sucks, as they are unsupportive and negative.

So, I’m back here, on my knees (figuratively), desperately looking for any advice or help with moving through this awful time in my life. I hate being told “You’re still young, enjoy it now,”…No. I wanted young love, I wanted to enjoy being in a couple and having fun without the stress of marriage and kids that comes by in your thirties. And now, my twenties are wasting away and I’m alone, living like a nun, never having sex, and never going on fun dates or experiencing romance. And no amount of words can explain how miserable that makes me.
posted by summertimesadness1988 to Human Relations (80 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
The word "date" only appears once in your post... why aren't you going on dates? Is it because you don't have the money to go out right now?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:08 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do you mind telling us approximately where you live? If you're looking for advice on meeting people, there might be good city-specific events or meet-ups or other suggestions.

Also, yeah, join OKCupid or Match or something and just go on a ton of dates; I'm SUPER happily married and sometimes I'm a little jealous of single people because they get the new date/crush/whatever jitters*. Not having a long-term significant other definitely doesn't mean you can't have sex or dates. In fact, sex and dates and fun romantic stuff are great ways to get a relationship.

*This is why I have crushes on people recreationally, as a hobby. Mr. Pterodactyl knows.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:12 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: My changes have been joining a gym, and joining a Meetup group, both to meet people in the area. (The gym is also to look and feel better, obviously). I also joined a dating site, but clicked with absolutely no guy I met, so going on dates with people I didn't feel a connection with felt like a waste of time and a bigger disappointment. Plus, all the guys I met seemed very desperate and aggressive about finding someone. I am NOT desperate, just REALLY sick of not having things work out for me. There's only so much a person can take.
posted by summertimesadness1988 at 12:13 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Therapy, psychics, dance, yoga, daily exercise, self-help reading, meeting new friends, I’ve tried it all. Nothing fills the empty space in my life where a special someone should be.

Medication appears as a suggestion in your previous threads. Have you spoken to your health care provider about them?
posted by munchingzombie at 12:13 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm going to be honest with you - based on your past questions and the tone of this post, I would say you have some severe depression and possibly other issues that you may want to talk to a therapist about.

With that in mind, people are always more attracted to other people that seem happy and confident with themselves. You have neither of these going right now, and you'll need to change that if you want to have a healthy relationship. If what you've posted is true and accurate to your real feelings, you have no business being in a relationship right now - I can't imagine a scenario where that would be a healthy, non-dependent relationship.

You are defining your happiness by being with someone else. Address that problem with a good therapist and life will change.

source: used to be in the same situation.
posted by _DB_ at 12:17 PM on April 11, 2014 [28 favorites]

Response by poster: No, I got a second opinion about my mental health from a really good (and reputable) psychiatrist. (The depression diagnoses was from my physician). And the psychiatrist told me that she didn't feel comfortable putting me on medicine, because I don't have clinical depression, just situational depression. Her exact words: "I think the day you meet the guy of your dreams, your negative feelings would melt away." This came from a licensed professional.
posted by summertimesadness1988 at 12:17 PM on April 11, 2014

I’m not happy alone. I can’t be happy alone. I’ve tried it. I’m meant to be with someone....

I had similar feelings for a long time. Part of me still believes this about myself. But I also know that I have to be able to be alone. I have to. As a woman I am likely to live longer than any man that I might marry (although at 31 and with my history and other things about me I think that I probably won't ever find a man who will marry me). So I have to be ok with being alone. I will probably not be married anymore if I do live to be old because its statistically likely that my husband will die before I do.

The only true constant is ourselves. Depending on another for happiness will never end well.

I can give you a bunch of platitudes but I guess I am trying to appeal to logic here.

You might want to read about non-attachment. Right now you are attached to a specific idea or outcome or goal in life: to find a partner that makes you happy. I would suggest exploring that desire and your attachment to being happy in this way. Perhaps figuring out how to detach yourself from this outcome will help a bit. You might want to detach yourself altogether from the notion of personal happiness and instead start focusing on something else.

Have you thought about doing volunteer work? Giving joy or pleasure or comfort to others in need is very fulfilling for the soul.
posted by sockermom at 12:17 PM on April 11, 2014 [29 favorites]

Her exact words: "I think the day you meet the guy of your dreams, your negative feelings would melt away."

Holy shit get a new doctor.
posted by griphus at 12:18 PM on April 11, 2014 [248 favorites]

Not to overcomment, and this will be my last, but:

I also joined a dating site, but clicked with absolutely no guy I met, so going on dates with people I didn't feel a connection with felt like a waste of time and a bigger disappointment.

Then join another dating site, or meet them in person; there are plenty of people with whom I don't feel a connection on-line who I really like in person (hell, try going to a MeFi meetup and you can learn this). There's not really a magic bullet for this problem; you have to keep meeting people and going on dates with them and if you don't like them in person meet new people and go on dates with THEM or meet friends of friends or whatever. It sucks, but there's not one secret magical answer to finding the right person and it actually can take a lot of work, even if it feels like it shouldn't.

If you find yourself rejecting good possible answers (like "meeting people" and "going on dates") out of hand because they seem like they can't possibly work then, yeah, maybe consider talking to a mental health professional about how your life seems empty because feeling like the commonplace obstacles to making yourself happy are insurmountable is a common sign of depression.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:19 PM on April 11, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm sorry, but yes you do •sound• desperate, so don't knock those guys you dated who also sound that way!

And I'm also sorry to say, hooking up with people out of desperation ("oh my gosh, I'm 26 and single!") is pretty well guaranteed NOT to end well. It sounds like a cliche, but you've got to find a way to make yourself happy BY yourself, or you will never find happiness with someone else.
posted by easily confused at 12:20 PM on April 11, 2014 [19 favorites]

Best answer: One more thought.

While people want to be wanted, it is often not a good feeling for one partner if the other is completely dependent upon them for happiness. Let's say you found guy of your dreams and he eventually realized that if he ever left you'd go back to the misery you are in now. What position does that put him in?

It's completely unfair to put all of that on another person. Your happiness is your responsibility and no one elses.
posted by _DB_ at 12:26 PM on April 11, 2014 [63 favorites]

To address your specific issue with dating sites, I don't think you should approach dates wondering whether this is the person with whom you will spend the rest of your life. You're just trying to meet people. If you meet someone you don't like, oh well, you never have to see them again. It's a numbers game. The more people that you come into contact with, the more likely you are to find someone you like. The goal of the date is to meet someone and decide whether you want to see them again. So if you 1) actually met the person and 2) decided whether you would like to see them again, yes or no, it was a successful date, even if you meet 10 guys in a row who you never want to see again.
posted by kat518 at 12:27 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Hi, I was in a place probably not unsimilar you where you are when I was in my mid 20s. I put a lot of emphasis on several things in my life, with a strong concentration on having a relationship. I never really articulated that to anyone, and I may not have known it myself, but it was there.

The only advice I can give is to not give up on being social. If that means dating, if that means having a regular yoga class where you get along well with people there, if it means going to lunch with a friend or coworker, then do what it takes.

The danger, I found, in thinking that things are better when you have a relationship is that it blinds you to the fact that there's a range of variation in relationships, too. I have had the odd lonely morning (and more than a few lonely evenings) in the past few years, but I'd much prefer that to waking up next to someone who made me loathe myself more than being single ever did! That can happen. Any relationship is not better than no relationship.
posted by mikeh at 12:27 PM on April 11, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: I'm sorry this is painful for you, I can understand it. The main thing I wanted to mention is that my longest relationship up to my 27th year was two months long, and then I met my wife. We've been married for almost 13 years now. It came at the right time for me, although I wouldn't have thought so beforehand.

There are no guarantees, and this is what makes it hard, right? Mr. perfect isn't necessarily waiting right around the corner. But I just wanted to encourage you that being single at 26 does not make someone a loser or undesirable. I understand that there is disappointment at unmet life expectations, but life has a way of giving us other kinds of good things in unexpected ways. Getting married later or something does not mean that your life was wasted.

As a secondary note (and if this doesn't apply, feel free to disregard), I'll also mention that what I thought would meet long unmet relationship needs by virtue of being with someone else did not always work like I thought. Intimacy that effectively bridges the loneliness gap is elusive even within good relationships at times, and for myself, it meant that I had additional work to do that had much more to do with me than whether I was actually in a relationship. I'm not sure there is a void in us that is shaped like another person. However, a good person can help create the space in which we can deal with issues that sometimes seem to transcend even the best of relationships. I don't know if that's the case for you, but perhaps separating the feeling you have from an "ideal puzzle piece" to fill the void may help some.

Good luck and hang in there. You sound like a very cool person, and well within what I would consider normal.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:29 PM on April 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

Yeah if your psychiatrist said those things I don't think they are as top notch as you say.
I am by no means an advocate of needless medication, but sometimes long term situational depression does indeed warrant some form of medication. It's not as if you have to take it the rest of your life.

Everything you write right now seems kinda geared towards "nothing can help me I've tried it all, but please help me". Which casts the whole thing in a light which we may be limited in being able to offer help beyond, find a new therapist, find a new doctor, keep trying and yes.. go on lots of dates because unless you have some ready common social setting there isn't any other real way to meet folks.

Long term though, if you are unable or unwilling to work on being able to live in your own skin (so to speak) and at least be content it's going to be tough road to walk, as almost any partner you find will not be able to completely fill the vacancy in yourself. That is a rather daunting task and *might* be unfair to ask someone to do. It does sort of sound desperate if-only-this-would-happen-everything-would-be-perfect --- it doesn't work that way.

Being 30+ does not mean marriage and kids if you don't want it to, don't over-romanticize "young love".
posted by edgeways at 12:32 PM on April 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I am NOT desperate, just REALLY sick of not having things work out for me.

Can you elaborate on the distinction? Even just maybe to yourself, if not aloud to us? The reason I ask is because it sort of jumps out the way you characterized the guys you met online as "desperate," when that seems to describe you as well. You even used the word "desperate[ly]" ("on my knees," etc) in your post. It's worth thinking about whether you are finding unattractive some qualities that you yourself are also projecting. Because some parts of that may be in your control to change.

“Learn to happy alone and love will follow.” What a load of bullshit.

Well...yeah, okay, in some ways but not entirely. You describe yourself in pretty stark terms: depressed, unmotivated, etc. I'm sure you understand that's not generally attractive to most people. I can't speak to whether your short-term partners are leaving you because they've found someone "gorgeous" for a long-term relationship, but let's say for a moment that is what's happening. Once you get better at screening for shallow cads, your next concern will be that any guy—any person, really—is going to prefer a long-term relationship with someone who, gorgeous or not, is happy.

So there is truth behind that adage. Unhappy isn't attractive. It also affects your own vision, outgoing: you'll be better able to select a mate if you aren't burdened by the pressure of needing (him) to fill some gigantic hole. And besides having better judgment about relationships, you'll also enjoy the process of dating more. If it's helpful to you, try framing it this way: never mind about becoming "happy" alone, but just try to get to whatever point is as happy as you can be alone.

I'm very sorry you're feeling this way. I hope this summer brings happier times for you. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 12:33 PM on April 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Would YOU want to be with you?

I think the best advice is become the person you want to marry.

Have you written a list of the kind of person you'd like to meet and be in a relationship with? What is that person's attributes? What are their interests?

It's like going clothes shopping with no idea exactly what you want, and being frustrated that you can't find anything to wear.

Stop thinking that being in a couple will magically fix your life. Deep in your heart of hearts, you know it isn't true.

Now, a thought exercise. For just a minute think about what it would mean for your life if you couldn't be in a couple. Let's say it never happens for you. What then?

Would your life have NO meaning? Would you just be miserable forever? You might be bummed for awhile, but you get over it. Then you find things that allow you to be happy, and finally, you are happy.

Does that mean you'll never find anyone. No. All I'm saying is that you are young and you should enjoy your life right now, as it is.

Whinging about being single is just a Drama Llama thing. You're not alone, and with friends and parents you're not even lonely. You're just between boyfriends.

Dating is one of those things, 99% of the people you meet aren't going to do it for you, or vice-versa. That's the whole point of dating. It's not a magical thing where you go to dinner, then you're in a relationship.

Relationships blossom out of shared experiences. Some slower than others.

I was single until I was 39. I made my peace with it and I have had some of the most fun ANYONE can boast of. I would have loved to have had a relationship, but it just didn't happen. But I have amazing friendships that I still treasure.

For sure, get into therapy and see another, less dippy doctor about depression.

Don't put things on hold until. Get an apartment, change jobs, move to another continent, travel to India, whatever it is, do those things on your own. I'm so glad I did, I had wonderful adventures!

When Husbunny and I met, instead of making my life complete, he enhanced my already complete life. Trust me, you put up with a lot less bullshit that way!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:34 PM on April 11, 2014 [43 favorites]

For what it's worth, when I was single in my early twenties I put a lot of energy into thinking how my unhappiness would be solved if I just found someone to date. Four years into a great relationship, I am still not really fundamentally a happier person, I think through a combination of my natural tendencies and various stuff about my life situation. I would suggest trying to focus on improving other aspects of your life that you're not so happy about as well as looking for a date. I strongly agree with griphus that you should find a new doctor; if nothing else, the stress you're reporting about your job and family and so on suggests that finding a date won't magically cure your unhappiness, and addressing some of those issues might help. Good luck.
posted by mlle valentine at 12:34 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

In addition to what other folks have said, I get a sense that one of the reasons being single bums you out so much is because it makes you feel like a loser, like everyone else has this thing but you don't. Moving past that belief may help; remember that whether or not you are part of a couple is not something to base your self-worth on.
posted by metasarah at 12:34 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think you could be happier if you face the fact that it just may not happen for you, not now, maybe not ever. Nobody is promised young love in the summertime. And you know, that's nowhere near the worst news you could've gotten today. There are millions of people, right now, facing much worse. Start focusing on the bigger world out there, and start feeling thankful for all the things that are going right in your life right now.
posted by Houstonian at 12:35 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: "I think the day you meet the guy of your dreams, your negative feelings would melt away."

Yyyyyyyyeah. I had a doctor tell me the same thing about anxiety, and you know what it got me? Many unhappy years before I got it handled. This is, to me, a facially suspect and irresponsible thing to tell you, and while nobody can make you do anything or make you try medication, not every licensed professional does a good job, sadly.

Here's the only thing I can tell you: If I knew you, and I knew this was your attitude, and I knew a great single guy, I wouldn't set you up with him, and as much as you don't want to hear it, ironically, it's because you don't sound ready.

Please don't sell your life short. It's not a matter of "be happy alone and love will follow." It's a matter of "be happy alone because right now, you're alone either way and it's either be sad alone or be happy alone." You're looking at being happy alone as a means to an end, and being happy alone is an end in itself, because every day you spend unhappy is a day you didn't spend happy.

And that brings me back to the fact that you sound depressed. Your life is worth plenty. You don't want to hear that you're young, but you are young. Give yourself a break. Take a deep breath. The mere fact of not having a boyfriend is not adequate, in my mind, to explain "situational depression." Please ask another doctor, because a licensed professional who tells you that all you need is a boyfriend makes me really, really nervous for you.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:35 PM on April 11, 2014 [45 favorites]

Best answer: ... have you considered a change in attitude?

It is easy to get into one story... "I'm alone and I hate it and I won't be happy until I get a boyfriend." The thoughts fuel the bad feelings and its a cycle and then people aren't attracted to unhappy people (as mentioned above).

I was in your place. I said I did everything. But what I hadn't done was take true and real responsibility for my happiness. I was complaining to my friends and they told me straight. I swore up and down that I was really doing it, but all I was doing was talking about it. I wasn't actually doing it. My friends didn't pussyfoot.

You need to do it. Police your thoughts. If you're unhappy NOW ask "what do I need NOW?" Don't go for the pat "I need a boyfriend" answer, that is a lazy investigation. It is usually something else, and something very simple. Maybe you're frustrated at something at your job. Maybe you're angry about a fight with a friend. Maybe you just need some fresh air. But instead of addressing that need, your thoughts might immediately go to "I need a boyfriend." Cut it out. Stay here & now. The "I need a boyfriend" mantra is a pacifier your mind uses to avoid addressing the true issue at hand (whatever it is).

When I took true and real responsibility for my feelings, my life changed. And as a byproduct, men started showing up out of nowhere. And I picked the one I liked :) And guess what? I still have shitty days. And its up to me to deal with it. My partner isn't a lollypop. The best he does is help me help myself.

Cliche but... partners add to your life, they do not make your life. They really really don't. So please stop telling yourself that fantasy story.

PS. You may have to accept that life does not go according to plan. You wanted the 20s-and-coupled experience and instead you're getting this experience. Ok! Your path is YOUR path. And this path includes dating around, not finding the right partner (yet) and continuing this journey. That's how you enjoy it. Think of your life like a puzzle, an infinite mystery. Each step unfolds this mystery. One step at a time.

P.P.S. One of those mysteries in life is that when you really & truly let go of your attachment to your desired outcome, you become more likely to get your desired outcome. It's a conundrum
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:37 PM on April 11, 2014 [46 favorites]

Best answer: “Learn to happy alone and love will follow.” What a load of bullshit. I do fun, happy stuff all the time, and I don’t see any relationship working out for me.

Doing happy things doesn't mean that you are actually learning to be happy alone. Clearly, you hate being single, and doing meet-ups, exercise, etc. won't mean anything until your happiness is coming from within yourself. Right now, you're relying on external things like a relationship to fill that hole. That is not really healthy for you or the other person when your happiness depends on your partner. Your mindset is what's making you miserable, and other people can probably sense it. Also, the last dude from your previous questions (the one who said he didn't want any relationships, then ended up with another woman) sounds like a tool, so I hope you're not hanging out with other jerks like him.

Your worth and happiness is not dependent on relationships. You're young, and all this anxiety and anger about how other people are experiencing things that you're not experiencing is misguided, and you'll have wasted your youth worrying about other people's happiness rather than working on actually being happy. You wanted young love, but we all want things, and when we don't get them, we have to let it go. That's life. Don't dwell on it and let it ruin your future because you're too preoccupied with lamenting about what you don't have.
posted by extramundane at 12:38 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Going on dates is how you pass time while waiting for lightning to strike. Keep doing it!

But it sounds like you might be putting a lot of pressure on each one to possibly be The One, which is pretty tough on you and whoever you're having a date with. To the extent you can, go into each one just hoping to have a good time or a good story. Deep breaths!
posted by spindrifter at 12:38 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I stopped when I got to "self help books".

Self help books are one of those things that seems like a great idea, but are actually just a form of paralyzed self-hate masturbation.

You need to get out of yourself. I notice that a lot of the activities you list, yoga, psychics, therapy, etc. are things that are about being inside yourself. These things can often be very helpful, and I don't want to tell you that they are bad (except for psychics, psychics are bad).

You are not going to meet anybody to date inside your navel, friend.

Stop worrying about improving yourself and go meet some people. Join a dating site and actually commit to going on dates. If you're female and hetero, send messages to guys you think would be a good match for you. Get a hobby that involves working closely with a mixed-gender group in person. (Or, if you're queer, a hobby that puts you directly in the path of people of your sexual orientation, of course.)

All those parties people have, and you don't go because you're not going to know anyone there and you'll be nervous with nobody to talk to? Go to them anyway and make a pact to strike up a conversation with two people you don't know.

All those times you're out with friends and see a cute boy, but you don't know if you should talk to him or what? Talk to him.

Say yes to outside.

I can't promise you that this will get you a boyfriend. I can't promise you that the boyfriend this gets you will Complete You. But I can promise that getting outside your own head will help all this stuff feel a lot less overwhelming.
posted by Sara C. at 12:39 PM on April 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I've been there! I feel the exact same way every time my life gets off track. I have to be miserable before I make a big change and then the big change is always something wonderful. Make a big change. Anything is better than how you are feeling now. Take a crap job, find a roommate that you may hate, and move as far away from your parents as you can.

There is also the God angle. He may be calling you to do something wonderful and the misery comes from not listening. Take some time and explore your spiritual roots. A relationship with God is more fulfilling than any relationship that you will ever have with another person.

As far as dating goes- it is very difficult to find the right someone. It is near impossible to find the right someone when you are not the right someone for you. You don't like where you are in life right now. Anyone who likes you now will appear to have questionable judgement to you. Accept that other people can see the you that you don't see and let a few people in.
posted by myselfasme at 12:39 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Romantic love is wonderful, but it's not a pre-requistite for mental health or even happiness. Not for you and not for anyone.

In fact, research shows that, on average, couples receive a boost in happiness when they get married.... that lasts for 2 years. Then they go back to their baseline happiness.

I think you should find another doctor and get screened for depression again.
posted by Asparagus at 12:39 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Touch love below. Skip if you aren't in a place for that right now:

You should extremely desperate to me. I know you say you're not, but your actions say otherwise. Desperation is not appealing and IMO is probably a huge part of the reason you aren't experiencing romance right now. I suggest you see a reputable therapist (anyone who says "I think the day you meet the guy of your dreams, your negative feelings would melt away." is not a reputable therapist) and sort out your feelings first.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 12:40 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You are where I was two years ago. I'm about a year older than you, I think.
I am now engaged to a wonderful guy, mostly happy with my life overall. He adds so much to my life, and made me see a lot of positives about myself that I was missing being mired in my unhappiness. Here's what worked for me:

- don't dismiss the notion of medication. I did for a long time, and once I finally started taking antidepressants, I was a lot happier and a lot more open to going out and meeting people.

- use your friends. Do your friends have single male friends? Brothers? Cousins? Does your mom know a person with a son who's available? Don't discount these out of hand (my fiance was a friend of a friend, we met at her birthday party)

- do go on dates with people you might not click with online. Dating profiles are hard to write, and it's impossible to convey your real personality in a couple hundred words.

- you sound miserable living at home. I was in the same position, and what helped was having a job I liked, something else to focus my attention on other than my perpetual loneliness. It sounds like you're trying to do that with the gym and meetup group, but maybe volunteering, or finding a more involved job would help?

Anyway, this is just my experience. As for happiness - fake it till you make it. Everyone will tell you to accept your life and love with follow and everything happens when it's meant to and blah blah blah, but if you're not happy you need to put yourself out there. You may find some duds before you find "the one" or you might not ever, but if that's what you think will make you happy, then no harm in trying.
Feel free to memail me if you want to chat.
posted by meesha at 12:41 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have the secret that will save you from the angst and misery of your twenties. Are you ready for it? It's so easy to achieve, you'll be shocked when you finally do it.

All you have to do is turn 30.

Seriously. I was not only single at your age, but divorced. Talk about a waste of time and purpose. I was so miserable at being single and alone that having publicly failed at a relationship was like a booger-cherry on a poop sundae. Then I had another relationship and that failed spectacularly, and I was miserable again, feeling like I was literally a waste of space and had no purpose in life because I couldn't even succeed at making another human being tolerate my company.

Then I turned 30.

And I just don't CARE! In fact, a little more than that, I LIKE being single. Oh, I have my fantasies but when it comes right down to it, I love my space and freedom and mess and pets more than I loved my ex-husband or my ex-boyfriance. To be fair, I have the benefit of comparing these states of being, so it is probably a little bit different from you.

Since that's the case, like people are saying, go on dates to pass this time. Wanting a relationship but not pursuing one is like bitching about unemployment but never ever filing out a single job application. No one's going to come looking for you; you have to meet in the middle. (And if you feel like being single is a waste of time, just wait 'til you're sifting through OKCupid profiles . . . I'm kidding. Sorta.)

And in the meantime, be the person you want to date. Do the things you'd want to do with a date by yourself. It is awesome.
posted by mibo at 12:47 PM on April 11, 2014 [14 favorites]

Best answer: I think part of your problem is that the lens you are viewing the idea of "being in a relationship" with is slightly out-of-focus, so to speak.

From all of what you wrote, and from your last questions, it sounds like you feel your self-worth is dependent on whether or not you are in a relationship.

Nothing fills the empty space in my life where a special someone should be.

Should it really be a person who has to fill the empty spaces in your life? What happens when that person dies, as they eventually will? You listed a great deal of "happy things" that you do in your post, but you say they do nothing for you. Maybe it is because yoga, reading, dance, etc. don't have much personal meaning for you? I have had that empty space in my life before too and, I too, thought a man would fill it. You have to fill that space. That space can be filled by living out your beliefs, doing things that are interesting and meaningful to you personally, by giving back to the world -- it can be filled by a great many things, but it has to come from you.

I can never seem to keep a man around for longer than a few months... they end up meeting someone gorgeous that they actually want a long term relationship with.

Do you believe it is a woman's responsibility to keep a man happy? And that she should be proud of herself if she does? What if sometimes relationships just don't work out? What if sometimes the man does everything he can to sabotage the relationship?

here I am, living with my parents, being a lonely loser

We all get lonely sometimes. It is the human condition. Why are you a loser if you are merely feeling normal, natural very human feelings?

I wanted young love, I wanted to enjoy being in a couple and having fun without the stress of marriage and kids that comes by in your thirties.

It's like you have this fantasy in your head that if only you had a boyfriend right now, you would be so happy and everything would be so perfect that you would just be pooping out rainbows. I think you are using this future-boyfriend fantasy as a way of not dealing with what is really making you unhappy right now (your job search, your living situation, your friends not spending so much time with you due to new-found relationships). It is a rather common coping mechanism to imagine "if only my life were like _______, everything would be perfect" - I know I can claim guilty at times. But to continue to imagine and dream and wish and hope will do nothing to change the circumstances that impel you to have these flights of fancy. And I find it interesting that there is this dichotomy that you are either part of a couple and having fun in your twenties or either married and stressed out in your thirties. What about women that don't get married till they're 35? And don't have kids till 40? And are content?

There are so many ways to live a life.

I think maybe you should really try and investigate why you think you need a man in your life and why you think said man may be a solution to your feelings of emptiness. Life is what we make of it. Why are you viewing your life from this lens? Why are you withholding your own happiness by insisting that a man has to be a part of it? You are the gatekeeper, you have the key.

P.S. After seeing your comment about the psychiatrist you saw, I might suggest shopping around to see if you could find another mental health care provider you feel comfortable with. If a professional tells you, "I think the day you meet the guy of your dreams, your negative feelings would melt away" they are either poorly trained or giving you the brush-off, or both. And if you continue to believe her, you will continue to be mentally and emotionally at the same place you have always been.
posted by sevenofspades at 1:02 PM on April 11, 2014 [12 favorites]

I stayed in a relationship during my 20s that was not a good relationship, just because I felt how you felt when i was alone. I regret wasting so much time doing that. Your 20s are not necessarily for love. They are more for finding out who you are. The "fun" years. It will happen for you when it happens. And it will happen one day. And usually once you are not looking for it, thats when it comes. Even if that is the most cliched statement - there is truth to it!
I would strongly suggest that you take a trip somewhere. Plan it soon. It doesn't have to be huge trip or a great distance or very expensive. Just get away for a weekend or a week or whatever time you can. Don't try to meet anyone. Go completely for you. Sit by the ocean or the mountains, or whatever type of nature you can get around that can overwhelm you. Anything outside of your comfort zone or what you're used to would be best. Good luck.
posted by kmr at 1:07 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Remember, when you go to see another psychiatrist to discuss these issues, you've got to be honest with them. Some psychiatrists are more perceptive than others but it really helps to tell them how you really feel.

If you are trying to present yourself as a person who 'does happy things' (tricky wording there - how does one do happy things while depressed?), and neglect to talk about being miserable, depressed, lack of motivation, loneliness, weight gain, etc., they may not see what you've really been going through. I wonder if you tried to normalize your feelings when you spoke to the psychiatrist which resulted in your very real feelings of sadness and hopelessness being blown off at the end of the session. Not that this would be all your fault by any means - the advice you got sounds very inappropriate no matter what you said to prompt it.

Your sadness/depression has been going on for over a year and you feel that there is no end in sight - certainly couldn't hurt to pursue getting better mental health care at the same time as you may want to try other ideas presented above. If you find yourself reading the ideas above and formulating reasons in your head why none of them will work and why you will always be forever alone… just focus on the better mental health care piece.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:08 PM on April 11, 2014 [6 favorites]

"This came from a licensed professional."

When I was first trying to deal with depression and anxiety issues, a licensed professional told me that I "need to solve my own problems".

I am sincerely glad I did not use that experience as an excuse to avoid getting help.
posted by Dynex at 1:09 PM on April 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

I'm your age, also single, most of my friends are paired off, and I apparently can't manage to get a date even with best efforts on OKC. So I feel you.

And most of the time I feel okay being single. Sure, I'd like to be dating someone, but in the meantime I'm doing okay.

Two years ago I felt a lot more like you did, every day, every night, all the time. Two years ago I was finally diagnosed with clinical depression and an anxiety disorder, and I have since been on medication for both. I still feel like everything in my life is a disaster once in a while, but most of the time I feel pretty okay about things.

Please reconsider your current therapist, and find a doctor that will take your concerns more seriously. And please reconsider the idea of medication.
posted by pemberkins at 1:10 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also there is nothing wrong with living at home when you are 27! You feel ashamed of it - i get it i've been there- but actually it is nearing the end of when you will be able to live at home with your parents. Enjoy them while you have them and enjoy the comforts of living at home (rent free! home cooked meals!).
posted by kmr at 1:11 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm 24, living with my parents, socializing through video games and the sporadic internet date, and generally unhappy with my life right now. But I know that finding a true love wouldn't fix my circumstances. I'm filling in the time with volunteering at the library and taking long walks. Do these things always make me happy? Nope. But it's still better than moping in my room.

I dated a girl I loved in college for a year - we were googoo over each other. But even in a true-love relationship you and your partner will have many awful days. Relationships take work. Even with someone you love, there will be days when everything they say makes you furious, and vice-versa. It's always difficult, and you need to be in position where your partner isn't the only thing keeping you satisfied with life.

Also, not wanting to hang out with friends because they're dating either means they're crappy friends, or you're being rather disrespectful. It's possible to be single and have awesome friendships, work on that too.
posted by gorbweaver at 1:11 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

"I think the day you meet the guy of your dreams, your negative feelings would melt away." This came from a licensed professional.

Yeah well, someone has to graduate at the rock bottom of the med school class. That someone is technically a doctor, but a shitty one. Sorry you got a shitty doctor.

New doc.
New meds.
New job.
New apartment.

Tackling these four things will do about ten thousand more things for your state of mind and personal happiness than a boyfriend would. Take it from someone who's been dating, single, in relationships, married, and divorced. NO RELATIONSHIP WITH A HUMAN has ever made me as happy as having ALL THE REST OF MY SHIT HANDLED makes me.

And frankly, unless like 70-90% of the rest of my shit is handled? I'm no fucking good as a girlfriend, not at all. And I pick shitty relationships, because water seeks its own level.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:11 PM on April 11, 2014 [40 favorites]

Hey, in the words of the Flaming Lips song: Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?

I'm serious. The happy couples are gonna die. Your perfect mate is gonna die. You are, too.

I know a smart, beautiful girl. Grew up in the charmed, rich circles. Engaged at 28 to the perfect smart, handsome guy of her dreams. Perfect couple, madly in love.

He died in a car accident the month before they were going to get married.

Life isn't fair. Life isn't a game you can win. It's a beautiful, fucked up, lucky accident. You really, really have to lower the bar from "why aren't I living in a sitcom" to "I'm lucky to be here. Every day is a gift." It helps with the jealousy, the rage, the self-hate.

Also, I was never good with "young love." The problem with love is love isn't disposable. Real love, actual love, has a way of fucking up your plans to have fun and be perfect on Facebook. If you really love someone, really love them, the nasty parts of life don't melt away, you just endure them together.
posted by quincunx at 1:12 PM on April 11, 2014 [34 favorites]

I should also add to my previous comment that at times when I was seeing someone, I wasn't fundamentally happier. There were root problems that had to be addressed first. A relationship can be a wonderful thing, but it isn't a permanent solution to unhappiness.
posted by pemberkins at 1:17 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah also, you can be in your 30s and having a fun, goofy, so-cute-it-is-annoying-all-your-friends relationship. It's not any less fun to take a vacation with your SO at 32 than it was at 26. And that isn't a line, that's coming from direct personal experience.

I understand entirely that feeling of, "I can't stand to be around a happy couple for even one more second." In the worst of my depression, I felt no joy whatsoever for my friends' happiness. I actively hated it/them! It took every single ounce of my will to fake being supportive and kind.

...Oh, but I wasn't single. I was just miserably unhappy. Even though I was in a couple! in my 20s! Because a relationship isn't the answer.

That sick stomach twist when you see happy folks is another thing that stopped happening once i got the rest of my shit together and handled my depression.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:19 PM on April 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

Best answer: You may have situational depression, but I think you are placing way too much stock in how much of it has to do with being single. You live with your parents and you're unemployed. Just one of those things would be enough to make me miserable, even if I did have a boyfriend! Those two things are much easier to address. I would focus on them first.

Give yourself six months to just look for a job and a place to live. Six months free of worry about relationships and singledom and what you're "supposed" to do in your twenties. See where you are six months from now. You might be surprised.
posted by telegraph at 1:21 PM on April 11, 2014 [14 favorites]

One more thing - so your friends recently got boyfriends.

Be happy for them.


It might hurt a little at first (that is our 'natural' selfishness kicking in) but you can turn that ship around. When you begin to sincerely be happy for them and their good fortune, your tides will start to turn as well.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:21 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Some psychiatrists are bad, or have bad ideas. See another one, as well as a therapist.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:36 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, considering you're talking about acne and weight gain, if you're on hormonal birth control--try going off of it. For me, this kind of "fuck everyone I hate happy people grar" attitude is straight-up hormonal birth control.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:38 PM on April 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: As I've mentioned before, I didn't even really start dating and having sex until age 27. More than two decades later I'm happily married to a great woman.

Meanwhile, a high percentage of my friends who got married in their twenties have since divorced, often acrimoniously. Young love can be great, but there's also something to be said for gaining some maturity and getting one's own shit together before settling down in a long-term relationship.

I will second what others have said - you do sound desperate and you do sound depressed.

Since you don't appreciate desperation in potential dates, that should give you some insight into how you might be coming across to others.

I can't speak to whether your depression might be situational, biological, based on mis-guided beliefs, or all of the above. I can say that if you work to address it your life will be better whether or not you find a serious romantic relationship any time soon. Medication might or might not be part of the answer.

One question you might ask yourself is "what (besides romance) do I genuinely enjoy doing in life?" Whatever it is (dancing/fixing old cars/hiking/reading mysteries/helping others/studying math/whatever) - do more of it. If you can't think of anything that you enjoy doing besides being romantically involved, then that's a problem. Either your chemistry is far enough out of whack that you really need anti-depressants or else you haven't yet spent the time to discover the things that bring you joy. I'm not suggesting that these activities are a replacement for a relationship or that they will necessarily lead to a relationship. I'm saying that you need something like that whether or not you are in a relationship.

Good luck!
posted by tdismukes at 1:43 PM on April 11, 2014 [6 favorites]

Her exact words: "I think the day you meet the guy of your dreams, your negative feelings would melt away." This came from a licensed professional. --summertimesadness1988

In fact, research shows that, on average, couples receive a boost in happiness when they get married.... that lasts for 2 years. Then they go back to their baseline happiness. -- Asparagus

I wonder if it's possible that the doc actually said the first thing, while intending to say something more like the second thing.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 1:50 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Tiny bit of add-on advice to St. Peepsburg's excellent points: one of the most helpful tricks for me, when I find myself feeling angry or grumpy or sad:

Am I

It's usually one of those, and they all have pretty concrete fixes you can implement RIGHT THEN.

Therapy and medication have helped me a whole lot, but when you need something quick you can do to get yourself out of a bad mood all by yourself, HALT works well.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:52 PM on April 11, 2014 [23 favorites]

"Therapy, psychics, dance, yoga, daily exercise, self-help reading, meeting new friends, I’ve tried it all. Nothing fills the empty space in my life where a special someone should be."

Just popping back in to add one thing - none of those are supposed to take the place of a special someone. They're meant to help you reach happiness. While I was single for most of my twenties I was lonely for love, horny, and sometimes jealous of my friends in good relationships. Even so, I was generally happy most of the time because I was doing things with my life that were meaningful to me.
posted by tdismukes at 2:02 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Okay so I have probably told this story in various iterations on different types of threads a million times, but here I go again and apologies if you know it already!

I met my now-husband when I was 24 and thought I would never ever ever have a decent boyfriend again. We met on Craigslist of all places! I put up a personal ad after trying OKCupid, Match, EHarmony, MySpace (hee!), etc. We emailed a couple times and I didn't really think we clicked particularly well, but he wanted to meet for beers so I figured I might as well go do it and if this didn't work out, I'd stop trying.

We went out, and hit it off. It wasn't like, sparks or movie magic, we just...talked and had a nice time. He called me again after that date, and then he kept calling. Eventually I realized he ACTUALLY liked me back, which I thought wasn't a thing boys did anymore. It took 7 years but we finally got married and are ridiculously happy.

I always thought that once I got a boyfriend/got married, I'd be all set. But you know what? Once you have one thing under control, you start to focus on the other stuff. For me, it's my job. HATE IT HATE IT need to get a new one real damn bad. And if it's not my job then I'd be thinking about all the work the house needs. And if not that, I'd be hating on my physical appearance or something.

I am not the picture of mental health I'm sure, but I think most people tend to have a BIG THING they fixate on as SOLVING ALL THE PROBLEMS but the truth is, life is long and you have lots of problems and happiness isn't like...being BEAMING RAYS OF SUNSHINE all the time, it's just...being okay with all your stuff and how it's going. I agree with others that maybe some meds or a new doctor might help, but really just learning to be okay with being you for the rest of your life might help. In my family when something bad happens, we always say "At least we still get to be us" and I used to just kind of ha-ha go along with it, but now I truly feel it. I'd rather be me. Even if I get divorced or widowed, I would rather be me! I'm awesome. You are too! Believe it!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 2:04 PM on April 11, 2014 [12 favorites]

You might also try Cognative Behavioral Therapy. It will help you unpick some of those unhealthy thought patterns around "need! must have! will die without!" Pick up a copy of Three Minute Therapy if nothing else.

And, trust me on this, having no boyfriend is way better than being in a co-dependent relationship. And if you go into dating someone with the current mentality you have, that is exactly what your life will become. Don't do that. Please. I did, and it SUCKED. Please address this however you need before you make yourself miserable. Learn to fulfill yourself, don't get addicted to having someone else do it for you.

I have been married. (See co-dependence sucking, above) I got divorced a few years ago, and dating felt like the most terrifying thing ever. But you know what? I did it anyway, and it got better. I started doing more things that I was passionate about, that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I traveled the world, volunteered, and made lifelong friendships and found amazing people to... connect with, shall we say. My life got infinitely better when I stopped putting my expectation for being happy on others. Yours will too.
posted by ananci at 2:05 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sometime in my mid 40s I decided to put my big girl pants on and get serious. I decided I wanted to get married. I told everyone I knew this. I told them to go ahead and set me up. I took out my male friends and interviewed them about me. What is good about me, what sucks, etc. I took the whole thing on as if it were a job. Building my strengths, stretching myself, being honest. I wrote a list of what I wanted, what were deal breakers. To top it off I took Alison Armstrong's Understanding Men, Celebrating Women workshop. I met my current 7 year partner while doing the 'homework' assignment she gave us. I knew it was because I had done all this work to align myself to what I wanted.

But I also became clear on what I wanted all around for my life, not just relationship related, and it really helped shape my life to where someone could fit into it. I think that was key. I became awesome and did not need a partner to fill an empty hole, rather I started to want a partner as an addition to my life, which is much healthier.
posted by Vaike at 2:12 PM on April 11, 2014 [6 favorites]

I want to challenge your idea that being partnered up is what will make you happy.

Right. I am 32 and currently single but seeing someone I super fancy.

I was very unattractive until I was around 27-28... then somehow I figured out how to dress and do my make up and suddenly I was EXTREMELY beautiful. And I became very skilled in flirting... I can be this amazing beautiful butterfly girl who puts people at ease, they become fascinated and attracted to me and they fall like dominoes. They fly me to see them. They buy me dinners, take me wonderful places. Call me, want to talk to me. Want me.

Its scary.

Like you I had been searching for that person to complete me, I didn't want to be alone.

I suffered from a severe eating disorder for many years, and had severe depression from the ages of 25-27... 2 years of hell. Sitting around in my pajamas all day why should anyone live like this depression. And a serious alcohol abuse problem which followed me for a long time, even after the depression finally lifted.

And what I can tell you is this: connections with people can help depression and make you a better person. Relationships with people. But not necessarily romantic ones. At worst- being depressed or not whole as a person in your own self opens you up to horrific abuse.

If you read my questions you will see the relationships that I have attracted, and they are NOT NICE. I had an unfulfilling marriage with a really nice guy I never had sex with (for 5 years!), then dated a SERIOUS abuser, then an alcoholic lazy mo fo, and then most recently a control freak... who dumped me after we had moved to a foreign country (his) together... for being fat.

Don't get me wrong, each boyfriend has been better than the last. I'm not making the same choices. The current former mr. Pony has been very respectful and kind during our break up. And I am now the proud occupant of my own flat, my first ever!... with a toaster, and sofas, and wine glasses and everything!

But my point is this: I can get a man. EASILY. A nice one, a funny one, a rich one.

But when you are fucked up you run a real risk of attracting someone else fucked up- and then you know what? Its just fucked up.

Even if you meet the perfect guy, he will only be the right guy for now because you are in a bad place and you will eventually start growing (one hopes) and grow out of the relationship. Which IS NOT FUN- that's what happened in my marriage and THAT was more heartbreaking than the other 3 relationships put together have been.

OR you will have a relationship based on your being situationally depressed, and I can't see how that would work.

I strongly suggest that you find a new way to frame this.

My relationships have improved because I have been improving myself. And it hasn't happened over night. I've gotten a little bit better and met a bit better guy, had it go to shit, spend the next 6 months working on myself and meet another guy, its great, falls to shit, spend another year or whatever working on myself, and meet another guy....

And each of those relationships at the time felt like the one and only, I couldn't let go, couldn't be alone.

But they have ended despite my wishes at the time.

And thank GOD!

But I am getting better.

And I have a life of my own that I am happy with. A job I like, friends I love and who support me, I don't drink too much, I work out and eat lean protein and veggies...

I am becoming the woman that I want to be, and I believe that I will end up in a satisfying relationship. But take it from me, I can have ANY man I want, and I have had any man I want, and none of them has FIXED ANYTHING. I've had to do it all myself.

It's hard work, but its worth it.
posted by misspony at 2:16 PM on April 11, 2014 [11 favorites]

You know, I am in almost the exact same situation you are in (minus the unemployment and living with the parents) and I'm almost 45. It really sucks not having a partner yet and being way underemployed. I, too, look out at almost everybody I know and see people with different experiences. I really feel for you b/c I'm going through it too.

What I'm learning is that you have to learn to ACCEPT these things as they are in your life at this moment, whether you like them or not, agree with them or not, or want them to be that way or not. And remember, This too shall pass. I hate telling myself this shit, but it's true.

Something else that can be helpful is paying attention to the little things in life. Taking a walk. Petting a dog. Getting outside in the sunshine. Smiling at a child. Paying attention to your breath. Feeling the breeze on your skin. And write down some of the things that you are grateful for. Your sight? Your hearing? Your education? It really puts a new spin on things for me when I take a look the things I DO have and take the focus off of things I'm still working on. Best to you.
posted by strelitzia at 2:32 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: To be honest, I don't know if I'm the right gender or whatever or if you are, but if I was a potential suitor I'd be turned off dating you because of your ostensible grumpiness and negativity. That might not be who you quintessentially are, but it's what you sound like at the moment.

I'd love a boyfriend too. I'd love to hold hands and drink milkshakes through dueling straws or eat the same spaghetti noodle from opposite sides of the table and all of that stuff which is honestly great. But the fact is that for the time being, the current status of my life is single and it would be a real shame if I let that minor point stop me from having an awesome time and enjoying my youth(ish) to the fullest.

I feel kind of sorry for you being that you are 26 and probably at the prime of your beauty and careless fun having years. You're going to blink and be 40 and wonder why you spent that time period feeling sorry for yourself.

Anyway, that stuff about you calling yourself a loser is doing you no favors, either from the spiritual perspective or the perspective of generally complainers aren't perceived as a great catch. I would recommend gritting your teeth and cultivating optimism, if for no other reason than the sad truth that contentment probably actually will help you find a man/happy relationship.

Okay, sorry for being kind of harsh, but I did want to lay that to you.
posted by mermily at 2:40 PM on April 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Sadly, life doesn't owe you a perfect relationship. And there's no guarantee you'll get one. And even if I could promise that you will, in 6, 12, 24 months, what are you going to do in the meantime? You have a life to live right now, you can't put it on hold or decide to be miserable until someone comes along. It sounds like you're one of these I Will Be Happy When people. You'll be happy once you get a boyfriend. But that happens and then, something else in your life needs fixing, so you'll be happy when you get a better job but then you need a newer car and so on and so on.

Work towards changing what you can (job, moving out, dating etc) but you can't place your entire happiness on finding a mate because that's not fair on you or your potential partner, talk about pressure for them. If you never found anyone, how would you find contentment in life? Go do that. No, it's not a magic bullet. That's because there's no such thing.
posted by Jubey at 2:42 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: OK so my wife is awesome and I love her. But she (sometimes) gets stuck in a perpetual state of wanting something and sometimes that makes her absolutely miserable because she just can't get that thing she's after (currently, it's a four-bedroom house in the city with a big yard, oy).

Anyway, what I always tell her is, the times in my life when I have been happy, it's when I have figured out how to be happy with what I do have instead of what I don't.

I bring this up because because you said, "“Learn to happy alone and love will follow.” What a load of bullshit. I do fun, happy stuff all the time, and I don’t see any relationship working out for me."

Don't learn to be happy alone so love will follow. That strikes me as very backwards! You were only doing fun, happy, things to be in a relationship. Just learn to be happy, no caveat. Period*

If you really want to be happy, you have to let go of the idea that you will ever find that 'one thing' that is keeping you from happiness. Because of your mindset right now, I guarantee that even if you did find the one you would soon after find something else that was keeping you from being happy. Letting go is very hard to do! But you can do it.

*take this with the very important caveat that depression is a Real Thing that should not be ignored and is 100% OK to be treated by a professional and may be a real barrier to happiness
posted by Tevin at 2:51 PM on April 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

If you cannot learn to be happy on your own, you actually will not be happy with someone else, either. This is fundamental. You must be whole first before you enter a relationship. It is unfair and unhealthy to use someone else to complete your life. Being single right now is the best gift the universe can give you. Relish this opportunity to figure out how to love and sustain yourself independently!
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:52 PM on April 11, 2014 [6 favorites]

And for what it's worth, the victim complex you have is what is likely setting you back. Lose that, start taking ownership of your life and the choices that make it, and see what changes.
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:55 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

...I really feel for you. You're receiving lots of loaded messages from your old bf (who, from what I see, is a jerk who threw salt into your wounds and insecurities), your friends (almost all coupled up) and your therapist (who seriously scored the hat trick of shittiness by telling you that "I think the day you meet the guy of your dreams, your negative feelings would melt away" - aka, feeding into the whole thought pattern that you need a guy to make you happy).

I think it might be easier if you take everything step-by-step, since all the steps to change sound so overwhelming for you. I would start by dumping your psychiatrist, then repeating what she said to your next therapist word-for word. If the next therapist does NOT find the above comment unhelpful and making things worse, that's a red flag for you.

Then after you find a therapist that is compassionate and can help you with your he next step is to try to get to know some new friends. I know you've been joining meetups; are you mainly looking for people to date or as friends?

Also seconding suggestions to keep a pet, and also keep up with the exercise/yoga. (I wish I could be doing yoga now!)

Finally... just wanted to let you know that life is too short to be trapped by a narrative that not being a couple will make you defective or lacking.
posted by Tsukushi at 2:57 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am perhaps not the right person to be answering this question. I crave solitude. I love being alone. That said, I'm going to give you my perspective, having read this and some of your previous questions.

What is it that you're actually asking of us, here, with this question?

It sounds like you need someone in your life. That's completely, utterly, 100% A-OK. That's common, and dare I say normal. But if you need that, then there's not really a lot that we can do to help beyond what we've already done. It's almost like asking us how you can do without breathing in air. We could theoretically suggest you get a very expensive, complicated piece of equipment that oxygenates your blood for you and means you don't actually have to make your diaphragm move. That's not really real-world practical, though. There's not a lot that can be said or suggested that hasn't already been. We can't get a relationship for you.

You say you're not desperate. I think, though, that maybe you're coming across to people in real life as actually being desperate? Going back to the air analogy: I have air, right now, so I'm not worried. Take that air away from me, and very quickly I will become very very desperate indeed. Having a relationship is obviously very important to you, and again, that's very much OK. People will see you needing to breathe, though, and that's going to push them away. Sucks, but it's true.

Something a friend of mine who once wanted a relationship springs to mind as I write this. She was constantly evaluating every single man she met as a relationship partner. I don't know whether or not you're doing is, but if you are, maybe make a rule that you'll only evaluate every other guy. Raise the threshold. Absolutely put yourself out there and make new friends and network and let people know that you're looking for a Someone. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that hard work = rewards, though, because it doesn't, always. Sometimes you work hard and don't get any kind of reward at all. Which is a shitty thing, but that's life for you.

Remember, too, that unlike with actual air, you're not going to die without a relationship. You will survive this, even if you don't meet anyone.

Those things you tried? They're not there just to fill the empty space. They're there to make you more attractive to a potential mate. And maybe help you find that mate along the way. They're not a means to an end. They're part of the journey.

You sound like you have an Anxious attachment type. You might find some comfort in reading the book that outlines the theory.
posted by Solomon at 3:44 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: 21: My first "official" relationship, filled with the giddy insanity I presume you are referring to as "young love." Ended in betrayal and misery.

21 -- 23: Stewing in misery and self-pity.

24 -- 25: Second serious relationship, also giddy/obsessive. It was healthier, and more mature, but I was entering a long period of alcoholism/depression, so there came a point where she threw her hands up and walked. Oh, but not before starting to see someone else.

25 -- 26: Stewing in misery and self-pity (x2).

26 -- 28 (29*): Botched engagement, technically lasted about one-and-a-half to two years, then dragged on for another year of confusion and anguish. Me = chronic drinking problem and increasingly hopeless view of life. She = serious monogamy and drama issues. Ended in betrayal and mutual disgust.

29: Stewing in misery and self-pity (x3).

29: Got far away, got sober.

30 -- 33: Got my shit together. Got my body in better shape. Got a job that didn't make me want to kill other people/myself. Completely avoided dating people -- or even thinking about dating people -- until I could offer them the best version of "me" that I could.

33 -- 36: Dated some cool people. Dated some desperate people. Found a woman who was mostly awesome, and dated her for several years. Parted ways sadly, but amicably.

36: Did not stew in misery or self-pity, not at all. Grieved and moved along, as a normal person might.

36 -- 38: Met another mostly awesome woman, and will be moving in with her soon. It might last a long time. It might not. I'll be a better person, with that much more to offer, regardless.

Point #1: I spent the entire period you're mythologizing both dating people and yet still being profoundly unhappy. The only thing they "completed" for me was some sort of weird "misery + self-pity" circuit.

Point #2: I didn't start having healthy, happy relationships until I got healthier and happier myself, without any guarantee that this effort would pay off. And none of these more recent relationships have "completed" me, either. There's a difference between "complementing" and "completion," and until you figure it out, you'll just be desperately chasing a mirage.

Point #3: I could well end up single again at 40+... This would make me sad. Hell, I might even get a little panicky about it, for a minute. But since I'm not bound up in anyone else "completing" me, and I won't be sending off waves of needy desperation-stink, I'm not too terribly worried.
posted by credible hulk at 3:54 PM on April 11, 2014 [21 favorites]

Best answer: Hello summertimesadness1988, I know exactly how you feel because when I was in my 20s I was in a similar situation, right down to the Master's degree with no decent job in sight, and negative family situation. I will address your question in a way that acknowledges your sadness, frustration, jealousy towards others and insecurities, but will assume you are not depressed because I have no way of knowing or diagnosing that (and in my experience I was not depressed).

Several things helped me. Many had nothing to do with the traditional advice people give when in your situation. Bear with me, I will eventually get to the relationshippy part.

Firstly (at least for my experience) graduate school had a very negative impact on my self-esteem and that coloured my attitude towards non academic endeavors. The endless competition with classmates, comparisons to "better" colleagues, and non-stop criticisms from professors lacking tact on a day to day basis made me feel this was a normal state of being. The weird feelings of never being acceptable transferred into other areas of my life. After being out of graduate school for a few years, spending time with close friends who did not finish highschool yet were extremely smart, and working in a non academic field with intelligent people, I regained so much confidence. And it had an amazing impact on other areas of my life. So my first tip is (if applicable) find ways to distance yourself from the negativities of school. I personally feel graduate school is not designed in a way that is helpful to many groups of people, and it has an enormous impact on how one understands oneself.

My second suggestion is to find a way to move out. For many years I stayed at home, in an extremely abusive household (violent father), due to the golden handcuffs of financial security. I now live on my own, and while I am in debt for the first time, I cannot put a price on freedom and nothing could induce me to go back. It is a scary step (especially if you were not allowed to develop basic skills like learning to drive) but it will also help a great deal with your confidence. At least you will not be surrounded by negative people.

My next suggestion is more mainstream relationship advice. I eventually developed a very rich life in very niche areas because I had nothing to do on weekends when my friends were with their partners. As I had no one to spend my weekends with, I became fascinated by fine dining, wine appreciation, classic horror, various philosophers, medieval history, heavy metal etc. I also developed close ties with my friends and mother - spending time with them on weeknights when they weren't out on dates, since I did not have a partner to be with. After many years of this my passions absorbed so much of my time that when I did date, new relationships did not trump my set commitments to my hobbies, and never trumped my commitments to friends or mother (these of course become more flexible when coupled up, which I'll address shortly). I think to potential partners this signified not only an interesting person but a loyal person. Also, I had become so specialized in interesting things, I had many fascinating insights to share. Now, many were mean about me not running after them desperately after one date. The ones who stuck around proved to be decent and wonderful. My commitments were a good filtering mechanism for those who were wrong for me.

A related point to the above is that some people specifically look for potential dates who, when told to "jump", bring a trampoline and ask "how high?!?". It is very easy to spot insecurity. Even for people who are not insecure, an eager date can be a turn off. As I became more confident, I found myself on first dates with people who were extremely needy (just as I had once been) and I found it frightening because they barely knew me and obviously were in lust with a fantasy and not the real me. For example, I went out with one person who on the first date stated "a kiss is a contract" before we had done more than hold hands, and it was so off putting. It is a learning process to be sure, but even if you are feeling the desire to be together forever think about how you act towards the date so you do not make them feel you want an an imaginary fantasy and not the real, flawed person.

My final suggestion is that relationships are a great deal of hard work, and there are many points to singlehood that go unappreciated until you are a couple. Freedom of choice that you may take for granted now are not as common in relationships, as there is often compromise. Not only where to eat or vacation, but how to save and spend money, treat family and friend boundaries, what is "private" versus "public" and even where to live (which can affect what job you hold). Even in the most loving relationships you will find things that annoy you tremendously about your partner. This point relates to the idea that the grass is not always greener on the other side (and sadly there is no way to know this until you venture into new territory, so it is hard to believe this).
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 3:56 PM on April 11, 2014 [6 favorites]

It seems to me that you have a hole in your heart, and you think the only way you can fix that hole is to have a boyfriend to fill it up. But in my experience, if you feel like you have a huge black hole in your chest, then you can throw absolutely everything into it that you can find (jobs, awards, boyfriends, lovers, hobbies, friends, alcohol) and it still won't ever feel full or fixed. You'll still feel like you're built around an empty space. You're the only one who can fix that hole. And the only way to fix it is to look squarely at your own hurts and try and figure out what you need to do to heal them.

For example, if your doctors say you are depressed, then you need to work on that with them until you reach a better baseline; if you are crying out in desperation because you need someone to comfort you, then you need to learn how to comfort yourself.

That all probably sounds hard and unfair, because it is hard and unfair. It would be so much simpler if someone else could just take care of you. And it will probably take you a lot longer than you would like to heal all of those hurts that you are carrying around inside you. But the older I get, the more convinced I am that the most important thing is to be a good friend to yourself. Start trying to talk to yourself like someone you love instead of like someone you hate. Don't accept all horrible thoughts as true; don't discount all hopeful thoughts as naive wishful thinking. Start there. And then keep going.
posted by colfax at 4:16 PM on April 11, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: My ex thought the way you did, a lot, when he was single. That there was a hole in his heart where someone ought to be. It made him really pro-active about dating and finding a girlfriend.

The only problem was, after he had each of us all nice and happy and fallen for him, and thinking he was the one, that's when he started to realize that that hole...was still there. What he thought that meant was that we weren't the right girl, so he broke up with us and started over.

He was wrong, thought - the hole wasn't "the space where a partner should be", it was some other kind of weakness of self-esteem and depression. And by not taking a look at himself to heal what was really going on, he never healed - and he dragged me and a bunch if other women into heartbreak as well. And I'm still bitter about that 5 years later.

You may not have clinical, medical depression, but you may have the kind of emotional tough stuff to deal with that a therapist can help with. My ex finally found someone he could stay with and marry after he did that; I just wish he'd have had the courage sooner, so I wouldn't have been hurt as well.

A partner can't fix all your problems, and sometimes expecting them to can end up hurting them too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:36 PM on April 11, 2014 [28 favorites]

Do a better job of living the life you have. Find your interests, join a club, take a class.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:37 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

“Learn to happy alone and love will follow.” What a load of bullshit. I do fun, happy stuff all the time, and I don’t see any relationship working out for me.
That's because you haven't learned to be happy. You've only learned to act like you're happy. Or make yourself happy for some period of time. But you're not happy. As you say in your post, you're sad and lonely.
I also joined a dating site, but clicked with absolutely no guy I met, so going on dates with people I didn't feel a connection with felt like a waste of time and a bigger disappointment.
I did a lot of online dating. The people who I thought I'd click with, I often didn't. And vise versa. My online dating rule was: If he's not creepy, and we might enjoy a date, then I'd be okay with a date. (Also, go for cheap/free things so you can pay, and there are no expectations.)
I wanted to enjoy being in a couple and having fun without the stress of marriage and kids that comes by in your thirties. And now, my twenties are wasting away and I’m alone, living like a nun, never having sex, and never going on fun dates or experiencing romance.
You've just listed a bunch of things that you think "couplehood" is and is not. But what exactly is it that you want? Living with someone? Sex? Going on dates and getting romanced? Consider if there are things you can get without being in a longterm committed monogamous relationship, and go after that.

I know trying too hard is often said as a platitude, but I do feel that you're trying too hard. In a relationship, your partner wants to be with you because of *you*. Yes, finding the partner takes work. But if you have personal problems that you need to work through--unemployment, unhealthy living environment, self-confidence issues, depression, unsupportive parents, etc--and you spend time looking for people to fit your puzzle piece rather than fix yourself, you're putting the cart before the horse and it just won't work.

(And that's not to say that people with problems can't date or can't find other people, but those relationships are rarely both long term and healthy. And when they are, they still often go through painful periods of growth. I have a friend who often gets upset that women "worse" than her are in couplehoods, when she isn't. But then I ask her if she would be willing to date guy, and she has never said yes. So keep that in mind as well.)

So yes, learn to be happy alone. Because people like being with happy people, and you haven't learned to be one yet.

You might see a lot of happy people in healthy relationships, but the happy part came first, before the relationship. A relationship won't make you happy, if you aren't already.
posted by ethidda at 5:16 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I know I’ve posted about this before, but I just can’t shake it off.

So...I don't see any new information in this question that changes anything. If the last 3 nearly identical questions over the past 3 months didn't help, why will the 4th? If this one doesn't help, will a 5th?

Because of that, I don't think this is something that we can help you with. You need to find a better therapist/psych person to talk to - you can still get help even if it does end up being situational rather than clinical depression! It doesn't matter how good their reputation is if they aren't helping you improve. Therapy and even medication philosophies are very very different between different providers, and what works for one person may not work for another. Your current psychiatrist may be great for some people, but she clearly isn't helping you.

You can absolutely get out of this hole, but you need more than our advice and your own bootstrapping, or you would have done it already. This thread has some really excellent insights and advice, but so did your questions in Jan, Feb and March. If you're tempted to post another one of these next month, you might try re-reading those instead.

While you're looking for a new psychiatrist/etc, I would really strongly recommend taking a purposeful temporary break from dating, either for a predefined time period or something more vague like "until my therapist says I'm improving with the depression". Two reasons. One, miserable people repel potential partners, and if not, tend to stay miserable and form unhealthy relationships that make both people even more miserable in the end. It might not feel like it now, but unhealthy relationships make you so.much.more. unhappy than being single. Two, it can actually be really freeing to take a break from the longing, stress and rejections of "actively looking" - you'll have a lot more time and energy to put towards your own happiness and self-improvement when you aren't distracted worrying about the latest guy who isn't calling you back. I am speaking 100% from experience here, as someone a few years older who prefers relationships but has still been very happily single for a few years now, bouncing every so often between "actively looking" and taking a break from it.
posted by randomnity at 5:36 PM on April 11, 2014 [10 favorites]

Single for 2 years?! That's nothing. Don't pity yourself over that. Actually, even if 2 years turns into 5 years, don't pity yourself then either. "Getting a boyfriend" isn't an accomplishment, so if you don't happen to meet someone you are compatible with, someone you are 100% into, that doesn't mean you're a failure, it just means you haven't met a guy like that yet. But whatever you do, don't alienate your friends just because they have boyfriends and it makes you feel lonely. Staying away from friends will make you even more depressed in the long run. And who knows, maybe your friends will meet a guy they want to set you up with. In the meantime continue dating. I went on DOZENS of bad and so-so and "eh" dates before I met my current fiancé. You know how I met him? We were friends at work and nothing more at first, and part of the reason we bonded was because I would share all my bad dating stories with him, and we would laugh about them and talk about what we actually wanted from a partner. Turns out we wanted each other. Good thing I had lots of bad dates and funny/bizarre stories to share with him!
posted by at 7:36 PM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think someone alluded to this poem above. Came across it recently and I liked it, thought you might appreciate it:

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth…

And you learn and learn…

With every good-bye you learn.

~Jorge Louis Borges
posted by thesnowyslaps at 9:41 PM on April 11, 2014 [15 favorites]

Best answer: I was dealing with depression and attributed a lot of it to a bad break-up/being miserable as a single person.

I found a writing exercise online that said something like "Picture your life in 10 years as a partnered person. Picture your life in 10 years as a single person."

The pictures were essentially the same, except that some of the things I shared with a partner. Not even all of the things, or a majority of things. That surprised me, as I always thought I was a "joined-at-the-hip" type of person.

So, I started going out and doing stuff I liked. Accepted being a single person, and started building a life that I could be happy in as a single person. Friends, hobbies, activities. It was great.

Then, I met a guy. No, this is not the moral of the story. This is not a "do stuff and find love" story.

But, I met a guy. He is wonderful. We are madly in love. Like, head-over-heels, grossing out all of our friends in love.

Six months into the relationship--a great relationship, by all standards, mind you--I was starting to feel that creeping crud of depression again. I was still in love, sure, still had a great partner, but I found myself longing and missing for someone else: myself. I missed doing stuff I liked, by myself, or just me and my friends. I missed having an identity outside of the partnership.

It was the same feeling I had before, when I was single. It was never about having a partner. It was about feeling unfulfilled in general.

So, go fulfill yourself in ways that only YOU can. Your friends, a boyfriend, your family can't fulfill you in every way. There is stuff you have to go and do for you. I am not saying do this and love will follow. I am saying, "Do this, because you want to love your life no matter who is in it, and do this, because you love yourself."

Also: find a new doctor. That is ridiculous.
posted by tippy at 10:35 PM on April 11, 2014 [15 favorites]

Best answer: Did you know that you can love people even if they don't love you? Have you ever tried loving every person you meet in the span of a day? We know love by doing it, not by receiving it.
posted by macinchik at 11:17 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I second the suggestion that you find a way to move out as a first step. Apply to jobs on the other side if the country. Travel. Do whatever you have to do. Just get out of your parents' house. Your living arrangement is surely contributing to the perception that your life is stalled.
posted by deathpanels at 6:12 AM on April 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Her exact words: "I think the day you meet the guy of your dreams, your negative feelings would melt away."

So, I occasionally have depression problems and have ongoing trouble with anxiety, ADD, and sensory processing/integration problems. I have found generally pretty good ways of dealing with these things and I'm managing all right. I have seen a lot of psychiatrists and psychologists over the course of my life, and here's things I've actually heard come out of their mouths:

At age 11 or 12, that I would feel fine if I just did everything my mother told me to do and that it was only my disobedience that made me unhappy.
That it doesn't count as an eating disorder if your BMI isn't under 18.5 yet.
That everybody who takes benzos for anxiety gets addicted to them.
That I ought to stay on an ADD medication that made me horribly sick to my stomach because I was losing weight and that was a "good sign".
That you can't have ADD/ADHD if you're capable of getting a college degree.
That all my problems would be better if I just found a "better" church.

One of the hardest things about seeking health care, including mental health care, is that you're trusting these people to be experts, but getting through a PhD program or medical school does not actually guarantee that they will be right. You have to approach it all with a certain open-minded skepticism.

Medication doesn't fix everything, but saying something like that is huge alarm bells territory and a sign you need to speak to a different doctor. Not because they described this as "situational depression", but because competent professionals do not treat romantic relationships as cure-alls. You need a doctor who's going to help you cope with your life as it is, not just encourage you to wallow until some external factor completely outside your control changes. It's not that you specifically need to find someone who wants to medicate you, you just need to specifically find someone who's going to help you actually tackle your life head-on, and this person is clearly not it.
posted by Sequence at 6:57 AM on April 12, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: There are masses of good advice in here. I just wanted to point something out:

“Learn to happy alone and love will follow.” What a load of bullshit. I do fun, happy stuff all the time, and I don’t see any relationship working out for me.

Doing 'fun things' doesn't mean you're happy. Doing happy things doesn't automatically give you a happy pass that stamps you as 'happy' and everyone knows it and you feel it. Happiness is a feeling, it's not a series of actions. That's not what 'being happy alone' means. You can be happy alone and not do very much at all. You can, on the other hand, fill your week with a myriad of activities and still be miserable doing ALL of them-- as you know.

The real lesson in that statement is not needing the thing you most want, in order to help you find not only it, but a kind of inner peace. Nothing can really help you with that except reflection and therapy possibly. It can't be half-assed with yoga and dancing, no amount of 'happy' things will fill your happy meter, if your tank is broken.

I'm a hetero female, but, I'm going to say it. If I was a guy, your desperation and attitude would be a complete turn off. I'm hoping you don't come across this way in real life, but, I'm not sure. I will say that it's kind of hindering your search. It's extremely 'woe is me' and while I get it your point of view-- I kinda share it sometimes-- I will say, I have actually had it much much worse than you. I'm a bit older than you and an extremely late bloomer with body image issues. I've only had two partners almost a decade ago, and it's been crickets since then. I haven't had the fairytale youth love, I have kind of forgotten what it's like to be with someone actually. I too would love to be loved; I'm not. It sucks. Oh well. Dating is hard. That's the thing. It's hard to find with everybody-- it's the hardest thing to find in the world, probably. That's why there's SO much advice on it. That's why 50% of couples divorce. It's not easy, even when people are coupled. Remember the friends you envy? You only see the cute lovey parts-- and they are in abundance when couples around you are young, as your friends are. It's never all roses and sunshine. Especially as couples move out of that youth love.

I'm looking, and you know-- if it happens it happens, and if not, not. I picked a couple of duds in the past, and, I never want to get with someone wrong for me. I see it in the unhappiness of my coupled friends and I'd rather be alone forever than with the wrong person. I've made peace with this: I decided I want to be one of those awesome old ladies that travels ALL the time. That would be awesome. Also, it's never too late to find love -- if it happens at 60, well, awesome. I've made peace with this.

The dudes that left and shacked up with "someone gorgeous" -- I'm picking up on crappy self esteem here. Why aren't you 'someone gorgeous' ? Why don't you think that about yourself? Also, think that these dudes kind of did you a favor. It wouldn't have lasted with anyone that has left; you didn't miss out on anything and there's nothing wrong with you. They are not living the fairytale with whoever they're with; they're probably annoying each other in kind because that's what humans are. Kinda annoying and stinky.

Also, love isn't going to solve your problems. It's not going to help your job search or your weight gain or that gaping hole. I think the biggest thing society sells us is that that hole can be filled with things outside ourselves; but this is the real bullshit. It never can. And once you 'fill it' with what you most want, I think you will realize it won't be enough. I think on some internal level you know it won't, it's just that you lack the tools to fill it that hole yourself somehow, even with therapy and such, so you latch onto this concept of this other person. I also think you should maybe change therapists. IANAT but I don't think, 'you're right, a guy will fix things,' is good advice.

Can I ask you to step outside yourself and your needs? Like, volunteer or something? Really give your time to someone/something else-- without seeing what you can get out of that activity and what it can yield for you? Shift your perspective. You shouldn't dance because you will seem fun and happy and maybe guys are there. You should dance because you wanna dance.

I think stopping the navel gazing and such and really connecting with other people who are in need may benefit you. I mean, one thing is for sure-- you may or may not find a guy, but sitting here griping about it isn't doing yourself any favors.

Lastly, don't give up. It's not easy in general, and it really often just is a numbers game. Just remind yourself that a connection is worth waiting for-- you know that on some level. And you are not 'missing out' by not having it now. Youth isn't some awesome period where everything is amplified and made to be more awesome because you're 26. I mean, it's sold that way-- and a lot of people think it is that way, but it doesn't have to be. You can be happy and giddy and crazy in love at 30, or 50 or 80. You can take shore trips and have fun together and whatnot. It really is a mindset.
posted by Dimes at 10:16 AM on April 12, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: If none of your friends had boyfriends right now, and were all in the same boat as you, would you still feel unhappy? The feeling I get from your post is that you are not just depressed, but angry at how unfair it is that they have boyfriends and you don't. Angry that God/Life/Fate "owes" you a boyfriend by a certain age and hasn't delivered.

I hate to sound like a schoolmarm, but as the saying goes, life isn't fair. It isn't fair that some people meet "the one" at 18 and others are still dating at 40. It isn't fair that some people get high-paying jobs through family connections and take an early retirement, while others work all their life. It isn't fair that some people can afford master's degrees and have parents who still let you live with them, while others are kicked out of the house at 18 and/or can't afford any higher education. (And I include myself there, as someone who lived with her parents during and after graduate school.)

I get that you wanted young love, and maybe it will still happen, but maybe it won't. Will that be the end of the world? Will the rest of your life (family, education, job) be worthless if you don't get this one thing? Because if you believe that your life is worthless without a boyfriend, then it will be. Would you rather spend your life thinking about how miserable you are or spend it trying to make other areas of your life meaningful?

I never dated in high school. A school guidance counselor started a discussion group for students with low self-esteem and I joined. One of the girls in the group was a classmate whom I knew had a boyfriend (and she mentioned him in discussions a few times). I was incredulous. How could she have low self-esteem if she had a boyfriend? And yet, she did. If you hinge your entire happiness on a relationship, you may be in for a world of disappointment if you get a boyfriend and your life doesn't become instantly perfect.

Don't do "fun happy stuff" just for the purpose of getting a boyfriend. Do it for yourself. That way, if the boyfriend never materializes, you still have the fun, happy stuff.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 1:38 PM on April 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

By the way, you may want to read this very short essay: Welcome to Holland.

It's not about dating, but I think the gist of it still applies to you. It's about a mother learning that her child has a disability, and all the disappointment that her life as a mother is never going to be what she had originally planned. But despite the disappointment, and the fact that she has to hear about her friends and their "normal" children, she learns to appreciate the different turn her life has taken.

But…if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things…about Holland.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 1:46 PM on April 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

Sumertimesadness, I noticed just now that you pretty much asked this same question about a month ago - and a very similar question a month before that. I now have two questions for you -

1. Is there a reason why the advice people gave you a month ago no longer applies?

2. Have you noticed whether you always tend to get about this emotional at the same time every month?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:51 PM on April 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

2. Have you noticed whether you always tend to get about this emotional at the same time every month?....


Also: are you on a hormonal form of birth control? I've been on some types that made me straight up suicidal once a month-- critically: not in the "PMS" week or the week of placebos, but at the START of a pack so I dismissed any possible hormone involvement---and the minute I switched, I magically no longer felt out of control and hopeless for a solid week every month.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:15 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you knew, through some magical means, that you would meet the man of your dreams on your 32nd birthday and spend a blissful lifetime of married happiness with him, how would you spend the next six years? That is what I would suggest you try to do now.
posted by prefpara at 10:38 AM on April 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

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