Evidence to support feeling hopeful about finding someone?
July 5, 2008 6:00 AM   Subscribe

I need evidence! I want to change two of my core beliefs about myself: (1) I will not find someone I love as much as the last girl and (2) I will not be truly happy until I find someone else. If you are single and do not believe these things about yourself, what evidence would you say backs up those beliefs for you?

I used to do cognitive behavioural therapy for depression/anxiety, and eventually was able to work my way out of a funk and became significantly happier for awhile. I’m now slipping into a depressive episode after a breakup (due to diverging life paths and locations that couldn’t be reconciled), and I think that this depression was triggered by the fact that a couple of my core beliefs are causing me fundamental vulnerability to events like this. I need to change these or else I will continue to slip into depression at times of adversity when I should merely be sad. By depressed I mean I am picturing the worst possible outcome (I will never again share mutual love with a female that I am mentally and physically attracted to) and I picture that outcome lasting forever, or lasting for so long that I eventually find it intolerable to continue. In any case, the future right now looks very, very bleak to me and I feel like my thoughts about the future are unhealthy. My justification for these beliefs goes like this:

Belief #1 – I will not find someone I love as much as the last girl

1) I’ve only met four girls I’ve felt this way about – two when I was a teen, one at 25, and one at 29 (this last one)
2) I guess I’m picky, but I know what I like, which means I have fewer relationships but the bonds I form are generally stronger – I don’t fall often but when I do I fall hard
3) I have a very hard time meeting girls I click with (see #1)
4) I felt like this girl was a better match for me than any previous, which makes the task seem all the more daunting

Belief #2 – I will not be truly happy until I find someone else

1) I have been somewhat content when not seeing anyone, even experiencing rare moments of joy, but I’m by far happiest when I’m in a relationship
2) I crave physical affection, and intimacy, and I actually feel like I need to have this at least weekly to be happy, and meaningless sex doesn’t do it for me

Some info about me:

I turned 30 recently, which is likely magnifying these feelings. However, I genuinely think I’m a catch: good-looking, professional job that I find pretty interesting, funny, artistic pursuits I am passionate about, plenty of friends (the last girl was the best match they had lined up for me…I may have exhausted that avenue for meeting people for now). I’m living in a smallish, isolated city in Canada (200,000 people), which is another concern because the dating pool is smaller. It’s a college town with an economy that isn’t the best so most intelligent, bright girls leave here for opportunities elsewhere, which was why the last relationship ended. However, I’m here for at least a couple of years pursuing a unique career opportunity and I think it would be a bad idea to move to a bigger city solely because it has a potentially larger dating pool.

So, any evidence that my beliefs are unfounded? Thanks very much.
posted by Ringo to Human Relations (20 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
In any case, the future right now looks very, very bleak to me and I feel like my thoughts about the future are unhealthy.

Perhaps it's time to go back into therapy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:22 AM on July 5, 2008

I’ve only met four girls I’ve felt this way about – two when I was a teen, one at 25, and one at 29 (this last one)

So in your life, you've already proved statement one wrong three times, that would seem to be a pretty good indication that you'll prove it wrong a forth time too.
posted by Static Vagabond at 6:24 AM on July 5, 2008 [4 favorites]

1) People are happy single
2) Don't think of your relationships as an absolute necessity; think of the girls you go after as something that further enriches an already full life - something you want, but don't necessarily need
3) Learn to enjoy your own company.
posted by kldickson at 6:25 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Perhaps it's time to go back into therapy.

Yes, I do plan to do so if I'm not able to get this under control in the next week. But in any case I thought it would be helpful to get some help to brainstorm a list of counter-evidence to those beliefs, and bring this to my therapist for use in the sessions.
posted by Ringo at 6:29 AM on July 5, 2008

If you have the means or opportunity to expand your dating pool then do it. If I had the money I'd head to the UK so I could take advantage of a larger dating pool and experience Europe but I don't so I'm stuck over here and just wandering around aimlessly trying to find that right someone.
posted by Talez at 6:37 AM on July 5, 2008

I think that "evidence" is something concrete, usually tangible, which is not something that can be provided via opinions. When single, I did not worry about whether or not I would be able to connect with someone as I had previously. There are so many people out there, so it would seem logical that one could find another companion. I was patient, and I did find them. Sometimes the best things are found where you least expect them, so maybe being "picky" isn't in your best interest, especially if you are hell-bent on finding 'the one'. Date against your type, I think you might find some interesting people, and find out some things about yourself.

I really don't agree with, "I won't be happy until I find someone else". I don't think that one's happiness should hinge solely on the presence of another. When you come down to it, you should be able to make your own happiness, and having a significant other to share this happiness with should be an added bonus, IMO. Life is about loss, and depending on another person for happiness will just lead to unhappiness in the end. I think that a partner should be a complement to one's personal happy world, not the center of it. There are lots of happy single people.

You don't mention how long ago you broke up, which may or may not be significant information. If it was yesterday, I guess you have the right to be depressed. 2 months...well...

Also, if you don't mind saying why, why did the breakup with this seemingly perfect match occur? This might also be helpful info.

If you still think that you 'need someone to make your life complete' (a statement that makes me cringe, but at 9:30 a.m. I am unable to articulate my thoughts on this coherently), then go on eHarmony or something (sorry to those that I offended, but I happen to know more than a handful of people that have used their service and were very happy with the result. This is the only experience I have with such things).

Best of luck.
posted by bolognius maximus at 6:41 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

I sound like the female version of you with one exception - I'm perfectly happy being single. Although I love the (few, like yourself) past relationships I've had where I've felt everything you love about a relationship), I don't feel as though I can't be truly happy without a partner, so yep, that's kind of proof. When I'm single I don't have to compromise on other parts of my life that make me happy, and choices I make. Yes I miss things like physical intimacy and waking up next to someone (but on the other hand do not miss being woken up by snoring or accidental kickage by a bedpartner!)

I can count experiences of true love on one hand as well, I also am very picky and find it hard to meet new partners, but I've got to a point where it just doesn't bother me. I'm not actively searching for a partner, but at the same time would not say no to a new relationship if a potential soulmate entered the scene. It does sound like you should revisit CBT as you've said you might, and think about focusing on what parts of yourself your past relationships have not satisfied, why they have ended, and what parts of being single you love. Being able to consider a future without a partner and it not feeling like the worst possible outcome.
posted by nunoidia at 6:50 AM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

It's okay to grieve a relationship. You think all sorts of crazy things when you're grieving, and then it passes. So, let yourself be sad and pessimistic for a bit. It's your body's way of dealing with the end of your relationship. You just turned 30 and went through a break-up. These sorts of things take a while to adjust to. It is normal. It takes time.

If your town has any type of social dancing (e.g. swing dancing), that could help to sate your need for physical touch without going into the "meaningless sex" territory. Or touch your friends! Hug them! Yes, we all need sex, and yes it will suck not having it, but it doesn't mean that you can't have any physical affection in your life.

Throw yourself into that job you love, pursue your art, hang out with your many friends, find a way to fit healthy physical affection into your life. Distract yourself with things that make you happy. Realise that you are happy, even though you are single and don't want to be.

Are you in Prince George? Maybe stick to a plan of moving in a couple of years, dude.
posted by heatherann at 6:50 AM on July 5, 2008

Learn to enjoy your own company.

This is important. You need to realize that it's impossible to be sure that you will fall in love again. Maybe you won't. Probably you will, but it has been known to happen that people simply never do. Stop and think: what then? What if I never find a girl that I love that much again? What will I do to make sure that my life is warm, full of affection and full of important bonds?

I have thought about this a lot, because it has been a long time since I was last in love, and I'm a solitary person by nature. In the words of Joseph Conrad, "we live as we dream -- alone." So build a good home for your own mind, and then you will be happy to share it with someone else.

Also -- it isn't necessarily a bad idea to move for the sake of a dating pool. More social opportunities may equal more chances to build a happy, stable life for yourself. But I don't know anything about your town or your family's location, so.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:56 AM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: bolognius maximus: Thanks, it ended due to her moving permanently far away for her career and she didn't want to do long distance, it was pretty early in the relationship (2 months)

heatherann: Thanks, I will do my best with your suggestions. And I'm hoping this doesn't out me in any way, but I'm in Halifax.
posted by Ringo at 6:57 AM on July 5, 2008

You either don't know or, within your funk, are forgetting a fundamental, critical truth: you, today, are not the you of tomorrow. You will move through this phase and be a different Ringo on the other side. And that person will attract and be attracted to a new energy. Falling in love four times by the time you are 30, each one progressively more "right"? That's not about them, that's about you. You are on a journey that does not end -- becoming -- and it sounds to me like you have, so far, had great good fortune. Without meaning to sound trite? Before you put your feet on the floor every morning, lie there for five minutes and count your blessings, even if it's just, I have the good health to get up and go to work. You will find love again. Good luck!!
posted by thinkpiece at 7:10 AM on July 5, 2008 [3 favorites]

The counter evidence is as simple as the fact that you, I, and most people both of us know don't have just one solid relationship in their entire lives. Almost all of us have two, three, or fifteen relationships, each imperfect but generally quite nice. Some people bounce quickly from person to person; others, like you, move much more deliberately. But moving deliberately isn't the same as not moving -- the evidence from your past is that you do it, but it takes you a few years.

So yeah, that's the counter evidence. But I doubt that you read that paragraph and TA-DAH! the sun came out and birds started singing and the lightbulb above your head lit up. It's not as simple as seeing some rational reasons not to worry and instantly stopping worrying.

You need to get back with a good therapist, and take this seriously as a long-term issue to work on, not something that you will snap your fingers and resolve on the spot. Rationally, it's easy to say "no problem, you've done it before and you'll do it again" but since your problem is based on irrational thinking, that assertion doesn't get at the fundamental issues involved.

So yeah, therapy.
posted by Forktine at 7:12 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

If they're core beliefs, as you say, then there's nothing the hive mind can do to change them. We're just words on a screen. Well meaning, but still just words.

Therapy is a good option. They're trained in changing core beliefs.
posted by Gular at 7:36 AM on July 5, 2008

I felt like this girl was a better match for me than any previous, which makes the task seem all the more daunting

No, it should make the task seem less daunting because it shows you're improving your ability to find a good match.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:38 AM on July 5, 2008 [3 favorites]

I will not find someone I love as much as the last girl

This is irrational.

If you'd said "I MIGHT not find someone," you'd make sense. But "I WILL not..."? So do you have magic powers that allow you to read the future?

I didn't have a meaningful relationship until I was almost 30. So you've done much better than me. You've had four in fifteen years? You think that's too few? I'd say that's way better than average. Sure, there are plenty of people who have many more relationships than you in fifteen years, but meaningful ones that involved love? I doubt it.

You also seem to be speeding up. You had two good relationships in your teens. Then a long dry spell until you were 25. Then another one just four years later. That makes sense. You're more mature now; the girls are more mature now. Many more people in their 30s are looking to settle down than people in their 20s or teens.

Think about how many girls you've met between the ages of fifteen and thirty -- not girls that are amazing, just girls that you got to know well enough to judge whether or not you wanted to date: let's say 5 girls a year. 5 x 15 = 75.

Now: how many girls are there in North America? What are the chances that, out of the 75 you've gotten to know (double or quadruple that if you're really gregarious), you've met ALL the ones you might possible get along with.

You're living in the best time in history to meet women. All sorts of courtship rules have relaxed; the Internet opens up new avenues.

Keep these two things in mind:

1) You invest a huge amount of emotional energy in relationships and basically imprint on whomever you're with. So when such a relationship ends, it SEEMS like that girl is the only girl in the world for you.

It's not true that no girl could be as awesome as she was. It IS true that no girl could be her except her. Mourn for the loss of her. Don't mourn for the loss of all girls.

In other words, if you lose a finger, that's worth getting upset about. But don't catastrophize that into the loss of an arm.

Your loneliness may feel operatic, but it's not. You're lonely for her. You're not the last man on Earth. Don't romanticize your pain.

2) Okay, you live in a small town. I don't think it's necessarily true that there's no girl there for you. But for the sake of argument, lets say it is. Then what's the worst thing that will happen? You won't have a girlfriend while you're living in that town.

(This happened to me. I spent three years living in a tiny college town. I was single to whole time. I catastrophized it into "forever" and went into therapy. My therapist tried to get me to see that my time in that town didn't symbolize my whole life. I didn't really accept that, but I did wind up leaving that town. In the next place I lived, I met my wife. I've been with her for 14 years.)

"While you're living in that town" is NOT "the rest of your life." Unless you want it to be. Given that you're so happy in relationships and so unhappy out of them, why would you choose to live in such a town for the rest of your life? Get what you need out of that town and them move somewhere better.

I'm like you. I'm happy in a relationship and not so happy out of one. I know that about myself. I'm comfortable with that. I realize that happiness is more important than career opportunities or money. So if I was single, I would move somewhere with a reasonable dating pool. I'm pretty sure you can find somewhere like that where you can also have a good career.

But again, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO CATASTROPHIZE. "The next few years" is not the rest of your life. "The girls in that town" are not all the girls in the world. Your problem -- painful as it is -- is mundane, not special. Don't give it special status. It wasn't written by Puccini.
posted by grumblebee at 7:50 AM on July 5, 2008 [8 favorites]

it was pretty early in the relationship (2 months)

At the two month mark, nearly anyone can seem better than anyone you've ever dated ever ever. That's the initial wave of lust, curiosity, and optimism. If you'd been able to date for a year or three, I guarantee you would have discovered issues that would make you laugh at your former naivete.

The girl you were with at 25, how long did that last? Do you think it's possible you're idealizing these women, unconsciously giving yourself an excuse to pass up lots of available women when the real problem is that you're too insecure to go out and experiment and seek out new experiences?

Your "Beliefs"seem tailor-made to keep you feeling pessimistic about your odds and emotionally/physically isolated. They are more than unrealistic; in the light of your depression/anxiety problems, they are downright self-destructive-- and that's the REAL reason you need to ditch them.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 7:56 AM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

First, I'll assume that meeting people occurs by random chance and is a function of the size of your town and your general outgoing-ness, both of which are likely to stay the same. By "teen," I'll assume you mean ages 15-19. At that rate, you've fallen for one person every 3.75 years. Assuming that rate stays constant, you'll meet another person before you're 33.

Second, I'll assume that "clicking" is a function of your maturity, and your self-knowledge and -acceptance. This explains why the last person was the best match for you yet, and it means that the next person will be better still, particularly if you continue to do your CBT work. Your future is bright! Better get to work! :)

Third, you "eventually [were] able to work [your] way out of a funk and became significantly happier for awhile." Did that happen while you were in a relationship? If not, it proves that you can be happy when not in a relationship.
posted by salvia at 9:53 AM on July 5, 2008

You're asking the wrong questions and asking us to speculate without data.

You may indeed never find anyone again. Given that your relationship with this past woman is irrevocably over (at least for now), what will make you most happy?

Moving back in time is not an option, though that seems to be what you most want. What are you other options now? Well, finding someone else or learning to be happy single. If you think you'd rather try to find someone else, the standard "meeting people" advice (hobbies, social groups, etc.) applies. If you'd rather try being happy single, well, pretty much the same advice: hobbies, social groups, etc.

Even if this is all a wasted effort, and you'll never be happy again, I'd wager that the pursuit of happiness will at least take up plenty of time that you would otherwise spend feeling miserable, and thus be a net benefit.
posted by klangklangston at 2:57 PM on July 5, 2008

You're 30 and you've fallen in love four times? I'd say you're doing pretty well.
posted by desjardins at 10:30 AM on July 6, 2008

I used to live in a college town of about 15,000 people, and saw many people meet someone there. Surely you can meet someone in a town of 200,000. Aren´t women coming there to go to grad school, work as professors, etc., even if some women leave the area?
posted by yohko at 2:13 PM on July 6, 2008

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