I'm single. What gives?
November 2, 2005 5:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm scared that I don't know how to start or have a stable, long-term relationship, and will end up living single the rest of my life because of it. I'm pretty comfortable with my bachelorhood, I have a great social life with many different groups, and go out several times a week. From the AxMe Masses: I could use some help troubleshooting myself. Why are all my friends continuously paired off, and I'm still single?

A little more information: I'm 25, live just outside of a decently sized city, and I work a lot. Between athletic leagues, friends that I go to house parties of/with, and friends, I've got a very active social life and I'm extremely well-known. Dating is no problem (and I prefer not to date online, btw), I date a varied group of women regularly ... just not the same ones. On the quiet evenings when I'm at home with a glass of wine and a fire, I wish there was someone there with me. But there isn't, and hasn't been regularly for about five years now. I'm pretty fulfilled as I am, but I have a feeling that developing a closer, longer-term relationship would take me further. I'm cravin' some of that kinda lovin'.

By nature, I'm pragmatic, logical, my sense of humor tends towards the outré, and I'm very gregarious at social events. I like to think I'm a good communicator, especially with women ... I have a *lot* of female friends (most of whom are in long term relationships, and really are just friends) that say I'm a great listener. At the same time, I'm a geek and I'm more than a bit dense -- either I have to be very interested in a woman, or she has to do the polite equivalent of taking a mallet to the back of my head to get my attention. (Had a few show up naked with beer; that works too...) I have pretty firm beliefs, but I'm incredibly flexible in accepting others... most of my beliefs surround not imposing beliefs on others. That gives me troubles with the fiery, passionate women I really enjoy dating, though... they won't convert me to their point of view, and sometimes they can't stand that. My friends say that the women I date tend to be immature, and after the relationship's over, I tend to agree.

I haven't necessarily felt the "fuzzy butterflies" feeling about anyone in the past six months... but I've been hanging out with a group that's 5-10 years older than I am. Most of the women in my crowd aren't single or aren't dateable, and very few of them have friends that they can hook me up with. (Yeah, I asked...) While opportunities have presented themselves, I've been celibate and a bit quieter than usual for said six months. I suppose I've gotten kind of frustrated and a bit jaded, but that's not helping anything, so it needs to stop.

Metafilter, help me find a good woman -- one that's right for me, and who I'm right for -- and develop a good relationship with her! I'm so clueless that I don't even know what questions to ask to help make things more clear for myself and for you. Anyone got a good 12-step program?

Two-way correspondence can happen through relationshipfilter@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Really it sounds to me like you're doing everything right and that you know what you're looking for. Sometimes it just takes awhile. Maybe ask some of your friends to fix you up?

That gives me troubles with the fiery, passionate women I really enjoy dating, though... they won't convert me to their point of view, and sometimes they can't stand that.

That's maybe a touch of a broad brush, if you perceive it as happening frequently. Check your assumptions: maybe they weren't trying to convert you, but rather you were being defensive and overprotective of your beliefs? Could be something to work on there...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:33 PM on November 2, 2005

If you want to be in a relationship, you need to work at it. It sounds like you're waiting for the perfect woman to fall in your lap. It really doesn't work like that. You need to start asking women out and put a little energy into trying to make things work. I say, put yourself 100% into any dating relationship that is working as long as it works, and by the time you're sick of working at relationships that don't make you happy, you'll be content with being alone.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:39 PM on November 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

Yea, and I don't understand the whole "I won't convert to their point of view" thing, either. Is it possible that you're a self-righteous dick? Just checking.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:40 PM on November 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'm 25, too, and 24 and 25 seem to be prime wedding years. My boyfriend (who is 32) and older friends tell me that there's a second spate of weddings in the late 20s/early 30s. So there are a lot of people who don't find someone who's right for them by the time it seems like everyone else is all paired off (they're not).
posted by Airhen at 6:01 PM on November 2, 2005

I don't think anonymous is being a self-righteous dick - I've often been in situations where a GF has approached the idea of a relationship with a full blown fantasy of what it will be, essentially casting me as the rather impotent missing piece in her personal puzzle - ie she is imposing her belief of what a relationship should be. And I have many male friends who are quite happy to be that piece in order to get laid/ avoid loneliness. I don't think you're being self-righteous by asking for what *you* want in a relationship, whether that goes down like a lead balloon or not.
posted by forallmankind at 7:23 PM on November 2, 2005

In the nicest possible way - you do come over as a little self-obsessed, I'm not sure there's anything you can do about that though, and I'm sure you'll meet someone great anyway. FWIW, I'm 25 and married, and the only person my age I know who is. People we know think we're odd, most people I know seem to be still kind of recovering from college (like, adjusting to post college social structures).
posted by crabintheocean at 7:39 PM on November 2, 2005

From my e-mail:

I reread your post, and I see where people are coming from when they say it sounds arrogant. Statements like 'they won't convert me to their point of view, and sometimes they can't stand that'.... how can you consider yourself a good communicator and incredibly accepting of others if you state that others won't convert you to their point of view? True acceptance permits the possibility of change (opinion only, of course) and good communicators have a knack for getting inside other peoples' points of view. Anything else is playing at acceptance. Is there a reason you date immature women? Do mature women do things that you find untenable? The fiery, passionate women you claim to enjoy dating may want more than a man who needs a mallet to the head or a geek who doesn't want to change his mind. A real relationship is life-changing in any way I can think of. You can't have the smart, fiery woman on the couch with you without having her in your ideology and crawling around your neurons at night.
posted by rebirtha at 8:03 PM on November 2, 2005

(From the anonymous poster, reposted with permission:)

Feel free to repost this whole message to AskMe, since I can't.

I've dated a lot of vegetarians. I'm a meat eater. I don't mind; I've helped open a vegetarian restaurant, and did a bunch of the recipe development. I eat vegetarian a decent percent of the time. (Just made spinach lasagna. Yum.) But I don't feel well when I've not had some animal protein in my diet. Once, my girlfriend was over for dinner, and I made the same meal... but added chicken into mine when they were all done so that I could have my protein. She wasn't happy at all, even though her food had never touched animal. She eventually broke up with me, saying she wanted to date a guy who's truly vegetarian ... "or maybe," she says dreamily, "a vegan".
I had no such issues. Is it wrong to say no to that kind of change?

Another example: I'm catholic, but not too serious about it. A wonderful woman who is part of a Foursquare Christian (very charismatic style of worship) and I fell for each other hard. But I prefer the pomp and circumstance and centuries of tradition and significance that is behind Catholic ceremonies to the charismatic style of worship that she preferred. I was fine going to our separate churches on Sunday. We eventually broke up because of it, though. I never even asked her to come to a Catholic ceremony; she tried to convert me into her church. I went to a few of her ceremonies and youth ministry sessions and I read and understood the differences between the King James and her version of the bible, but I didn't like the ... well, for lack of a better word, the christian rock concert that made up their sundays. We talked about it, and I decided to start going back to Catholic ceremonies. She broke up with me a week or two later.

I don't really want to be changed like that. I always thought that real change came from within, not from the pressure of your significant other. I'll admit to a certain degree of passive-aggressiveness, but I also try hard to see other points of view. That doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to accept them as truth. And I'll agree that there's many things that DID change during the relationships. I dress a whole lot better after dating that christian girl, for instance. ;) I had only camped once in my life before dating the vegetarian girl mentioned above... now I go out into the woods regularly. There were lots of things that I've shared. It's just that none have lasted, seemingly due to things that I've not been willing to change ... even though I was perfectly willing to compromise.

Did that make sense?
posted by rebirtha at 8:44 PM on November 2, 2005

I can see what people mean with the self-obsession. This thread reminds me of what it's like to be 25 and drunkenly rich in every single one of life's treasures. But don't overlook the fact that this question is being asked. If it's not enough to live free and date a variety of women, then perhaps a soul glimmers in there somewhere after all.

Anon, it just sounds like you're growing out of the self you've been content with up until now. It's good that you're looking around even though you're basically happy with where you are. It's good to keep growing. One word of caution is not to get TOO hung up on what your friends are doing. From 25 onward you experience wave after wave of friends getting married/pregnant/mortgaged and it doesn't have to imply anything about you and your life. Take it as you will, but don't lose faith in yourself because of your friends. Basic caution. Keep it in mind.

All that said, there is a pretty big leap in responsibility between being a healthy, relatively happy young man who dates lots of women to having a single, long-term committed relationship. After having "the best of both worlds" by some standards you will have an adjustment in learning to accept one person with all her faults, being accessible and accountable to her 24 hours a day, and being completely exposed to her in all of your faults, however subtle and easy to hide from more casual friends.

Here's a mental exercise: do you know anyone right now that you could consider giving the rest of your life to? If not, then perhaps you're not ready for a serious commitment. Waiting around for someone to show up who fits all your fantasies without requiring any compromise whatsoever is the mark of the immature. The great thing and the crappy thing about real relationships is that they don't fit perfectly and force you to grow and adapt yourself.

If you're ready for radical change in your life, you may be ready for what you seek. But if you think of a partner as someone to sit next to you on the couch on weekends (and aren't considering any of the rest of it) then perhaps what you want is a cat. They are excellent at that, and keep to themselves the rest of the time.
posted by scarabic at 8:52 PM on November 2, 2005

Have you considered the possibility that you're not straight?
posted by angry modem at 3:17 AM on November 3, 2005

modem doing AskMe drivebys with the blunt one liners! *uttered to the tune of Rob Schneider's "Stevarooni! SteveO! Stefanmeister!" character*

That actually cracked me up.

Good luck, Anonymous. You're a young guy and you don't have to step things up just yet. Let it happen organically. If you're 40 and still in a similar similar situation, you can start panicking and joining eHarmony or something.

I have to get out of here before AskMe turns me into Dear Abby.
posted by Devils Slide at 3:53 AM on November 3, 2005

You rolled the dice of life, and it looks like most things are working out, so keep the faith and it will happen!


But if it doesn't don't blame me... blame Jesus!
posted by Blip at 5:51 AM on November 3, 2005

First off, congrats to anon for setting up the e-mail and allowing rebirtha to post his response; it makes things much clearer.

I have to admit the original post did make you sound like a bit of a dick, but the e-mail makes it sound like you just haven't met the right woman yet. (I met a couple of sort-of-right women in my 20s and 30s, but didn't meet the really right one until I was well into my 40s; don't despair!) There's no reason in the world you should convert to veganism or Foursquare Christianity because of a girlfriend (I fell madly in love with a Mormon girl in Taiwan, and she was pretty annoyed that I wouldn't convert, or even take the Book of Mormon seriously). It does sound, though, that you may have fallen into a pattern of dating women who are likely to try to force such things on you, and you should probably cast your net wider. The main thing, though, is not to put pressure on yourself and feel like you've got to settle down now! Good luck to you.
posted by languagehat at 8:03 AM on November 3, 2005

With the chruch example.... I have a thought or two.

Going to her church instead of your own doesn't necessarily constitute "being changed." If you choose to do it, then it is a "compromise." Now, church can be a personal thing. So I wouldn't suggest going to a church you don't like for someone else. However, if it's simply a question of liking both but prefering one, then perhaps you could have done more to compromise. If the esthetic difference between one service and another so important that you're happy to go to church separately, then perhaps you don't really want a serious relationship. Sharing your worship with your special person should be pretty important if you do. It seems to have been important to her. I'm not assigning blame. Maybe she should have started going to your church instead. But you never asked her, I guess.

It's all well and good to go through life determined not to be a fake and not to let people change you falsely. That's fine. But don't become one of those people who has to have everything his way, exactly his way, or nothing. That will spell doom for relationships. If you'd gone the extra mile to eay the vegetarian meal without chicken, it would have been a sweet gesture. There's nothing wrong with going dutch and having your dinner and her dinner (I think she overreacted) but you can't go Dutch with absolutely everything forever.

Consider whether little preferences are actually important, or if it's simply important to have the control required to ensure you get them satisfied. You have all the control you want right now. One way or the other you have to give some up.
posted by scarabic at 8:29 AM on November 3, 2005

With regard to the women you mentioned -- the vegetarian and the church-goer -- it sounds like they are the ones being uncompromising, not you. It could be that they haven't fully grown up yet, and they aren't ready for a relationship with compromises, while you are. In time, the girls around you will grow up, and in doing so will either find their perfect men, or learn that they can't change others and need to accept people as they are. Then they will flock to you.

I have learned this fact, not by growing up and seeing relationships mature, but by dating older women. ;)
posted by purple_frogs at 3:12 PM on November 3, 2005

When I was a certain age, I wanted a committed, loving relationship more than anything. I dated a lot, hoping it would happen. When I finally fell head over heels, he broke up with me after a short whirlwind romance, saying he heard "I go through guys like water." (I was still a virgin, which was important to him. He didn't believe me. People nowadays forget it's possible to date without fucking.)

You might have a reputation as a player. That's a quick way to turn off any woman wanting a relationship. One idea: spread the word around you want to settle down with one person.
posted by Sorcia at 8:36 AM on November 4, 2005

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