As a therapist who works frequently with individuals and couples, sometimes clients will ask me, “Do I really want to be in a relationship?”
Our culture teaches us from childhood that the norm is to find a partner, get married, buy a house, settle down and start a family – that’s considered the gold standard.
And if you are single, you feel the pressures from culture, religion and society that something must be wrong with you because you haven’t found a partner, or you’ve chosen to be single.
Some people are attached to the idea that they must be in a relationship and if they are not in one, they will feel alone and lonely.
It’s like the grass is always greener theory … you think people in a relationship have it “better” than you do. But do they? You don’t know the answer.
Before determining if you really want to be in a relationship, ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I want to be in a relationship?
- What am I looking for in a relationship?
- Does my lifestyle support a relationship?
- Do I have the time, energy, space and real interest for a relationship?
- Are my behaviors and lifestyle in line with wanting a full relationship?
Dating can be brutal at any age. You face rejection, you can be ghosted, and your antenna is up all of the time because you already have this preconceived idea that something is wrong with you because you are single. If the person doesn’t like you, then something is wrong with you.
In reality, you don’t fit the template that person is looking for. When we are looking for the “right” person, we probably have a fixed type we want to meet. Mine was the bad boy. For someone else, it might be the good wife. You decide this is the only person you can be with, and you look for that person.
Don’t change yourself to be in a relationship. You can modify who you are, grow, heal, but do it for you, not the other person.
Be in touch with you and your own life and what you need to make single better. Let yourself be vulnerable. Of course, there are many more growth opportunities when you are in a relationship because you often deal with many conflicts. And conflict promotes growth within us. When you are single and faced with a conflict, you can just remove yourself from the situation and walk away. If you are serious about growing, put yourself in situations where you are uncomfortable so you can learn from them.
Remember, the first three to six months of a relationship are considered the honeymoon phase. People tell us who they are during the first one to two months, but we tend to paint the red flags white because we still are on the honeymoon. When you are in love, you think you can deal with those things that bother you. But, once you pass the honeymoon, the next phase of your relationship is the power struggle – this is when the conflicts – and growth – begins.
Make single being fun. Make it a challenge. Take a chance. And remember: it is OK to decide you do not want to be in a relationship and be OK with this decision.
Joe Kort, PhD, LMSW, founding director of The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health, has been in practice for more than 30 years. He is a certified Imago Relationship therapist, a modality designed for couples to enhance their relationship, and for singles to learn relationship skills.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kort, or any of the therapists at The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health, call 248.399.7447 or arrange an appointment online at www.crsh.com. Teletherapy appointments are available.