I’m Not Sure If I Really Want to Be in A Relationship. But I Do. But I Don’t.

smiling old woman on the beach

Okay, Evan, here goes. I find men and they want to get serious right away, i.e. marriage! I have been divorced for 18 years. I was married for 13. I am alone, my daughter is grown. I love doing my own thing, such as watching a race, rather than doing what HE wants to do. I know it is selfish, but yet I keep them hanging on, hate to let go, and then miss them when they do go!

What is wrong with me? Am I afraid to commit? I don’t want to be alone, but yet I don’t want to do what I don’t want to do. I know, I have to give, and I do. But the way I handle this is by just not answering calls. Caller ID was the best thing that ever could have happened to me! I was engaged 3 times and backed out. I did have one serious relationship for 5 years after my divorce and would have married him, but he left me because I was working for a band and going away on weekends. (I did ask him to go also but he worked a lot). It was too much of an experience for me NOT to do it. Now, I find myself pushing them away when they want to be close and wanting them when they do finally start giving up. HELP.



I know a writer who was aimless in his career. He was a hard worker who had a lot going for him, and after years of toiling away in the wrong jobs, was determined to land the right one. A friend hooked him up with a bigwig in the life insurance biz and he decided to give it a shot. A year later, he quit. Took another job in life insurance. Quit. He continues to look for work in sales and yet I see no indication that anything is going to change.

It’s easy to see that this guy should not be selling life insurance. Yet it’s what he knows; it’s what he thinks he wants. It provides security and comfort and structure. The problem is that it’s ill-fitting. He’s trying fit a square peg in a round hole.

So are you.

Happiness is when your goals and actions are aligned.

Based on what little you shared with me, it seems pretty clear that you think you want a relationship, but you don’t actually want one.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Being single is great — if you want to be single. The problem is that you — and lots of people – spend their lives chasing things they don’t want.

In failing to clarify our goals, we create a cycle of dissatisfaction and resentment. As stated in this blog entry, happiness is when your goals and actions are aligned. And if your goal is to be free to do whatever you want, whenever you want, guess what?

You’re going to be pretty damn miserable as part of a couple.

No matter what you’re creating, it helps to have a plan. … If you want to build a house, you can start hammering, or you can draw up a blueprint. If you want to cook a brilliant meal, you can throw random ingredients into a bowl, or you can follow a recipe.

The fact is, Barb, you don’t know what you want. And if you don’t know what you want, you can’t get what you want.

If you don’t know what you want, you can’t get what you want.

But it seems to me that if Caller ID is your best friend, and you’ve been engaged three times, and you’ve been pushing people away for 18 years, you know what you want.

You want to be alone. And that’s okay.

Just don’t complain because you refuse to compromise.

Related entry: How Do I Avoid Desperate and Clingy Men?

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  1. 1

    btw way evan, where’s the post on shallow men you promised us? 😉

  2. 2

    Sorry Evan, I am calling bs on this woman. She is not confused about what she wants; she loves the attention and is stringing men along knowing full well that she does reciprocate their feelings. You should have read her the Riot Act instead of playing along with the ‘damsel-with-so-many-suitors-my-pretty-head-is-spinning-oh-and-maybe-I’m-just-afraid-to-commit’ schtick. Engaged a bunch of times and then weaseling out with Caller ID? Completely selfish behavior all around. So she wants to be alone? Guess what–she’s well on her way there.

    1. 2.1

      Disagree im exactly the same I want a relationship but wen im with someone there’s no feeling there at all. I wanna feel in love again I was seein someone for almost a year wen I split from my husband he was kind lovely adored me and my children I really wanted to love him but I just couldnt so I ended it. I want a relationship but scared I won’t fall in love again.

      1. 2.1.1

        Louise you need to see a therapist. If you can’t love anyone, that’s a problem with you, not them. You need to fix yourself first. Then, you’ll be able to find love.

      2. 2.1.2

        why do you feel that you not falling in love is your standard too high what are your standards but would you give the same as what you are appearing?

  3. 3

    WGMB, seems that Evan is projecting a non-committal guy’s point of view onto this woman. Doesn’t mean she’s doing the right thing…but lots of guys do the same thing that this woman is doing. I agree with you, she’s selfish, and so are a lot of guys who act the way she does.

  4. 4

    I have to agree with Wanna–it sounds like she enjoys whining about how hard it is for her to commit. I think she’d do well to find a guy who has the same attitude as she does and they can be alone together and be just fine.

  5. 5
    just saying..

    …and on that point, I dated a guy once who had the exact same attitude. Kept whining about how lonely he was, ho much he wanted to get married to a nice normal girl, but every time he did he managed to sabotoge the opportunity.

    1. 5.1

      Maybe he needed to be taught

  6. 6

    Sometimes the confusion we feel is based on the pressure that we have to conform to what our society dictates us to do.

    1. 6.1

      Amen.   I am a 28-year-old woman who has not wanted to be in a relationship since I was 18, but feel like I have ended up in relationships ever since then because every single person thinks I’m crazy when I say I don’t want to date.   I can’t even sum up the kind of pressure I’ve felt and the messages I’ve received.   Never ONE that says, “Okay, be single.”
      Guys kind of ignore what I’m saying or think I don’t mean it, and I am too passive (I admit it!) so I go along with it.   I keep waiting for this magical “I WANT to be married and fit society’s ideal!” wand to hit me, and it doesn’t.
      Sad to say, I am in a relationship now with an incredible man, but feel scared shitless because I just don’t reciprocate his feelings AS MUCH.   It makes me feel pretty damn evil, but I’ve been open with him and then he freaks out and I think, “Well, maybe it’ll grow.”   Meanwhile I am moving to another country next year and wonder if I’ll ever have enough guts to cut the cord…or grow a connection.   

      1. 6.1.1


        It’s okay to be single.   Having said that, I need to follow my own advice.   Somehow, I have found myself in a marriage with a man who is uniquely fabulous.   I told him from day one that after raising my kids I wanted to focus on building my career, which incidentally would take me overseas.   Yet, I find my career talking the backseat to his and I am having to find odd jobs to eek out a living and reliant on his income.   The person he represented himself to be is no more and feel like I’m left with a shriveling career and a man I barely know anymore.   I wish more than anything that I could be happy with this, but I don’t seem to be able to fain satisfaction.   Life is never as simple as we would like it to be and there are more shades of gray than what most are comfortable with…. not sure what to do – either way, I either am selfish or leading him on.

    2. 6.2
      Julio Franco

      You’re so right I’m struggling with this right now


  7. 7

    I disagree.
    I know how this woman feels.
    Society says if you are single especially as a woman you are a misfit. However, for me I dont really want to be alone, but the thought of settling down fills me with dread. I got engaged a couple of years ago and when I thought about getting married, I’d wake up in the middle of the night unable to breathe overcome with fear. Ive been proposed to three times since. I meet guys but then do dumb stuff to push them away while at the same time I dont want to be single forever.

    1. 7.1
      Alex Zim

      I feel you 100%

  8. 8

    Hi all I can say is that at 43 I’ve been in relationships and out of them, at the moment out of one and desperate to be in one. but it it always the grass is greener. in a relationship you think the opportunities and possibilities are there, somethings really good could come along. But in a relationship that is not there but there are things that the relationship give you like comfort, companionship and shared history that is important. Do you really want to star a relationship with a man who has no connection with your kids. how complicated is that going to be? At my age it isn’t as simple as we
    when we were young. nothing is perfect no man will ever be perfect but can you live with it or not. that is what you have to ask yourself because I hate to tell you but dreams do not mostly exist sorry to be such a cynic but that is how I feel.

  9. 9

    I can completely relate to this. As I get older (just turned 40) I really like my life, the flexibility, the freedom, and yes sometimes the autonomy. That being said – I would also love to find a special someone to share it with, someone who makes it better than it already is by being part of my life.

    1. 9.1


  10. 10
    Internet Dating Tips

    Greener pasture? Maybe. Not knowing what she wants? I don’t think so. I think what this woman wants is the attention from men in a form of marriage proposal. It’s like self-validation for her. She wants to feel desireable. I don’t think she was really interested in any of those men. Perhaps those men were not even remotely attractive to her, yet she enjoys the conquest. Can a woman be what we call a “player” in a relationship? Absolutely! I have noted that a long time ago and even wrote an article about it http://internet-dating-guru.blogspot.com/2008/03/who-plays-games-guys-or-girls.html

  11. 11

    I can relate to this to.
    I was in a long term relationship, after 7 years we got married, after 2 years I divorced him, turned out to be someone I didn't know.  Now I want to have someone in my life, yet I am afraid, afraid not to totally know the person, or I will get hurt, or able to trust myself, as I made the mistake the first time. I've been divorce 1 year 6 months.  I feel I'm ready to have a relationship again, and still I'm scared.

  12. 12

    Today, I went to the beach front with my kids. I found a
    sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the
    shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely
    off topic but I had to tell someone!

    1. 12.1


    2. 12.2

      That was too funny   🙂

  13. 13

    Try “he’s scared, she’s scared” by Steven Carter. Fear of commitment plays out in many ways and you may identify with the scenarios in the book.The solution is set out in another of his books, Getting to Commitment, which he was only able to write when he was able to commit.   That second book walked me through my fears when I first started seeing my boyfriend and I still turn to it when I get panicky.
    I think you don’t want to be alone as you’re attracting attention, giving out your phone no. and getting as far as garnering proposals. But you don’t want a relationship either or you would be in one.
    At the time of my life   when I genuinely wanted to be alone I didn’t have a single date in over six years. I got very happy so I don’t knock singledom at all, and I think it can work very well for women, who are good at setting up circles of friends and taking care of themselves.
    But if you do want a relationship you have to face up to your fears, which I think every reasonable person has.   Fear of boredom, stagnation, how you will age as a couple, being hurt, inflicting hurt, being vulnerable, who will die first, who will get sick, financial issues, compromise and sacrifice,  etc. The fears don’t go away, I think they are part of being human but they needn’t stop you from loving and being loved if that’s what you want.
    I loved your story! Sometimes you gotta take a risk…

  14. 14

    There is nothing wrong with you. I feel I am very similar to you. I tried to be in a relationship with a woman that wanted to get married and I didn’t. I started to feel like I was going to be alone since I don’t seem to commit.
    Well guess what. I didn’t marry her. I decided what I had was good and I don’t have to get anybody’s permission. so I don’t want to marry and I have lots of friends. Most of my married friend are now divorced,
    I decided to fall in love with myself first! since then I have done so much and find that more and more want to be with me. I cant seem to get enough time for myself now and I have been with lots of friends. I mean it when I say friends. it is working out the way I want and I have to put myself first rather that the traditional marriage thing. why be unhappy?

  15. 15

    K this article freaked me out, this is MY life! same thing!   and I do like the way Evan put it into perspective.   It’s very much the way I’ve been thinking lately.   I DO most DEFINITELY think it has something to do with society thinking we “should” be with someone and that you are a misfit if single or why wouldn’t you want love etc etc.   well the truth is is that I find a lot of men are more mixed up than I am and really I just don’t someone messing with my head or my heart or my finances or my life really.   Pretty happy on my own, keep myself occupied all the time, never bored EVER! have a ton of hobbies and interests and  yes I know how to make friends very easily and if I feel like going out on a date I have no problem getting one.   I see a ton of friends in very unhappy relationships or knocking themselves out to stay in one or find one or keep one and I just think it’s not for me, but I have felt very pressured to be in a relationship AT ALL COSTS to my mental, physical, financial health and I’m telling you I just don’t think it’s worth it.   to be honest I think I was dating more to just meet new people, I find people fascinating and I really do like to get to know them, I just feel the need to get married or have kids and this seems to be a thing that men actually very much do want.   anyway, it’s not a very popular view and I do hate being called selfish because I really don’t think that’s what it’s about at all…  
    anyway, I loved Evans advice here and his take on it… makes a lot of sense.  

  16. 16

    oops I meant to say I DO NOT feel the need to get married or have kids re post above!  

  17. 17

    Im not sure Im the exact same as a lot of people posting her but I certain can relate to Barb. Since I was dating age I have been in a relationship. I dated my highschool sweet heart for 7 years, thought he was the one but he became very withdrawn and we begain to grow apart and ended up breaking up. I felt alot of pressure and loneliness. I feel for the first man I went on a date with, things moved really quick, we moved in together, got a dog and bought a house and got engaged all in 2 years. I have been engaged for over a year now and still cant seem to commit, I love him and am very blessed with the life he has provided me. I thought I always wanted to get married and have kids but now that the oppurtinity is here im having second thoughts. I have a hard time connecting with people and feel that if I dont start making wedding plans soon my fiance will leave me as he very much wants to start our life together. Im worried that I would not be able to find someone else I can connect with and I feel like I will feel very isolated as I have a heard time opening up and making good friends.

  18. 18

    “Happiness is when your goals and actions are aligned”

    This was so beautiful and true a statement,   that I just posted it on my IG acct.

    Thank you.

  19. 19

    Many women nowadays like dating all different kinds of men which they can’t handle just being with only one man.

  20. 20
    Lisa 3

    Well I’m one of those ladies that want a relationship, but I don’t want to get hurt, I’m use to doing my own thing, I’m 50 these 30 year olds keep crossing my path they turn into hit and quits, so I just work and it is what it is, I guess one of these days my Mr. Wonderful will surface.

    1. 20.1

      Men from 18 to 80 are walking away from women. This topic is a prime example of the confusion that both women and men deal with as a whole. Men don’t want to chase women, we’re lazy. When we decide to chase, we play the game. Once in a relationship, then the Women don’t want to be in it. They get bored.

    2. 20.2

      Yea I’m all about that life. Hit and Quit It is a better than a relationship

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