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Author Topic: Relationships: To participate or not to participate?
Atonement
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 42492

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So, I think it’s been long enough since I’ve attempted to involve myself with any particular guy that I can discuss this concept objectively, and it’s something that I really think needs talking about. And I sort of intend this to be an “open discussion about the topic” thing rather than a “I need an answer so I can take an X or Y approach to it” kind of thing.

The thing is, I’m nearly 24 and I only really feel that I’ve loved one person romantically, from the ages to 13-15-ish. It was unrequited, with a friend that really didn’t treat me that well. Overall, it was a pretty unhealthy ordeal, but it was still the only relationship that I’ve had those sort of feelings in. I never fell in love with my boyfriend of 2 years that I had from 18-20, and haven’t had any real relationship since then.

The thing is, I still have letters from that one guy and diary entries that I wrote at the time. I was obsessive, unhealthy, and thought my whole life revolved around him. I feel that me 10 years ago was understandably naïve, and am overall much better off as the person I am now

All of my home and family issues are already posted on Scarleteen, so I’m not going to go heavily into that other than that I’ve been through a lot. I am also currently dealing with the issue of having had to let go of a lot of professional dreams and aspirations, and going from having a seemingly promising future to a highly uncertain one.

In a lot of ways, I am very proud of my independence, and see it as a good thing. The thing is, I’m not sure that the adult, independent, and realist-thinking me can ever be in a position where I’m capable of romantic love again. Despite the insistence of my friends and family that I “get out there”, I have come to terms with the fact that I HATE the world of traditional American dating. But still, there’s the question of whether I could have some sort of less formal, more relaxed sort of relationship if such a thing came along in the future.

I mean, I love my mom, my siblings, my best friend and my cat, but I honestly don’t think I’m capable of romantic love at the moment. And to be completely honest, I’m not really sure if I should be working on “fixing” myself and attempting to become that sort of person, or If I should fully embrace who I am as is, and go forward not anticipating any romantic relationships in the future.

I feel like proceeding forward as is s a lot safer with a lot less opportunity for disappointment. But everything from the stories I love to my friends and family all seem to think that there’s no greater tragedy in the world than closing yourself off to love.

To top it off, I’m sort of disappointed in my mom, who despite having been through everything I’ve been through and then some, is taking an entirely different approach. Since reentering the “dating world” about 7 months ago, she has seen more guys than I can even keep track of, and loves every minute of it. She loves everything that I hate about the dating world. She even admitted that she needs attention from men to “feel like a woman”, and though she doesn’t criticize it she sees my not caring about validation from men “very modern”. I try really hard not to be judgmental, but sometimes I feel like her attitudes and behavior are ignorant and childish.

I know I am in no shape to begin any sort of relationship in the near future. Even if I do decide that is something I want again someday, I’ve got a lot of personal issues to work through first. Ever since my academic disappointments, I seem to have some self-esteem issues. The idea of being around an educated, intellectual guy makes me feel inadequate because even though I still sort of think of myself that way, my academic history does not back it up. But I feel like to be with anyone who isn’t would be settling, which sounds incredibly snobby. I’d like to think I’ll feel better about myself when these issues get resolved and I get into a nursing program, but I may NOT get in, and I fear that they could get a lot worse then…

I realize I should work on my self-esteem regardless of which option I choose, but that’s only a part of the whole deal.

So, I know only I can make this decision, but what do you guys think? Should I channel my energies into being happy on my own, or should I work on opening myself up? What are you’re experiences, particularly with the older members on board who may have been where I’m at now?

Posts: 444 | From: United States | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I hear you, and have for a while, being pretty clear on what you feel you want here. Not on what you feel you SHOULD do or want, or what friends think you should be doing, but on what you want.

Why not lead with that? You are the expert on you, after all, not your friends or us. [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68235 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Atonement
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 42492

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Well, I guess things are a little muddy. As little as a year ago, I absolutely wanted romantic relationships.

I guess there's a part of me that always may. I don't know if that's biological, culturally ingrained, or both. There absolutely are aspects of relationships that sound great, but I'm not sure if they outweigh the aspects that sound not so great.

Even though I largely feel that the risks outweigh the benefits at least for right now, it's still like I'm consciously suppressing the part of me that does want it. And I just kind of want to make sure that that's a thoroughly healthy thing to do.

A part of me wants to sort of leave it up to fate, and trust that if the right opportunity presents itself, I'll make the right decision. But I'm really not sure I believe in that whole "everything happens for a reason" deal, and I'm a little concerned that 1, 5 or 20 years from now I might come across something awesome and not allow it to happen because I've shut that part of me down.

Then, on the other hand, looking backwards looks a lot different than looking forwards. Looking forwards, you imagine a pretty one-dimensional outline, but when it actually happens there are so many other things going on that you never would have anticipated, and a lot of them are wonderful. So maybe I should stop trying to have such a clear cut idea of what I'm going to do long term, focus on me now, and take everything as it comes.

But then, there's a huge part of me that wants to prepare for any possible scenario.

I know that regardless of whether I ever have a relationship or not, I really need to work on my self-esteem. I always put so much emphasis on academic success that its really hard for me not to view myself as a failure despite the fact that I know I'm the same person I was 2 years ago, before this mess all happened.

[ 04-06-2014, 09:41 PM: Message edited by: Atonement ]

Posts: 444 | From: United States | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

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I think one thing that might be missing for you in this is that a decision you make for now, and the foreseeable future, is not a decision for ever. How you feel now and can imagine feeling is absolutely open to change at any point in the future, even if you can't imagine that.

You said
quote:
I honestly don’t think I’m capable of romantic love at the moment
and
quote:
I HATE the world of traditional American dating
and
quote:
I know I am in no shape to begin any sort of relationship in the near future
and
quote:
I’m not sure that the adult, independent, and realist-thinking me can ever be in a position where I’m capable of romantic love again
You're being really clear about where you're at at the moment, and I wanted to put it there so you, too, can see how clear you're being.

It is absolutely ok for you to be in that place at the moment. If you feel closed off to romantic relationships at the moment, or if you deliberately close yourself off from them at the moment because you know it's just not what you need right now, that in no way means that you will be closed off forever.

Relationships require some degree of emotional investment. At some points in all our lives, we just don't have any spare emotional or psychological stuff for that: we need it for other things. It sounds like you might be in that kind of space. Maybe you're feeling like you've been in that kind of space for quite some time - that's possible, and unsurprising for anyone with a challenging childhood or adolescence. It can really take some time to work through the impact. You do have that time - what you write suggests that there are many people around you who are already coupled up or trying plenty of relationships, but truly, people 23-24 are still in the earlier stages of developing self and life.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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