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


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. 21

    I have children involved so it makes my decision to be single so much harder. I guess I want to relationship for my children so they have a home with both parents. I would be considered selfish if I broke things off between us and didn’t think about how it would affect the boys. This socks, cause in the mean time I’m so over it.

    1. 21.1


      The  road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I’m afraid you’re on it. Now, It would be nice for your kids to have a two-parent home, but ask yourself, would it be so nice to have a two parent-home where you “are so over” the man in that home? Sooner or later, those kids are going to be living with two very unhappy parents. Better a happy single parent, than that. There’s more what about the man involved? You think it’s fair to him, to marry him, knowing that you don’t love him? Well, is it? How do you think he’s going to feel when he figures that out (and he will)? Finally, there’s you. You do this, and you’ll be cheating yourself, too. You know that. Look there’s nothing wrong with wanting what’s best for others, but if you don’t take care of you first, if you don’t make Terri happy, you won’t have much to give anyone else (yes, including your kids). That’s not selfish; that’s healthy self-love and self-acceptance. So never mind what society thinks, what your friends think, or what your family thinks. Your kids will be far better off growing up with a mom who loves them, and has the energy to be a great mom, because she isn’t wasting that energy trying to fit something into her life, that, at least for now, doesn’t belong there. Maybe it will someday, but for now, just know it’s not cheating your kids to be a single mom; just be the best single mom you can be.

      1. 21.1.1

        If Terri is married or in a long-term relationship with kids, there’s more to it than “What makes mom happy?” and guess what? There are plenty of women that destroy families and leave marriages thinking that will make them happier, only to find out their issues are within and no external force will “make” them happy. I think some deeper soul searching is needed before just ripping a family apart because Mom’s not happy.


        Relationships can get in a rut. When kids are involved, it’s easier for them to become completely unraveled, resentments to form, and at least one person questioning the entire relationship, blaming the other and thinking things would be so much better without their partner.


        This book provides some insight to the breakdown of relationships and how to repair them.

        Good luck to you in whatever choice you make.

  2. 22

    I do sympathize with the writer, because I am a woman and I have the same experience.   It’s not that I’m so gorgeous or wonderful.   I think it’s because I’m pretty enough, cheerful, fun, and have my life together.   I’m also a pretty strong person (not bossy or dominant, just basically goal-oriented).   What I’ve concluded is that people who are needy or rudderless are very attracted to a person who seems nice and not needy.   For them, it’s sort of like a life preserver.   But for me, I feel like, I’m not looking for a ‘dependent’.   I already had children (now grown, and terrific kids), and basically would like a man who is pretty independent.   I am divorced, but the issues of neediness or non-neediness were not part of the issue.       When I like someone, I show appropriate interest, but don’t go overboard.   Well, what can I say, I guess dating is just tough sometimes !

  3. 23

    I totally feel this. In my case I was married thirteen years to a person who 8 years in decided to become someone else. I feel like I have ptsd. I make it clear to every man I befriend that I’m not into relationships of any kind emotional or physical I just want friends I can trust. God is it hard to find girls to befriend. Every time I do make friends with a guy he expects he owns me. My friendship. My life. My future love life is his as far as he is concerned. This is every time. Men aren’t what they used to be. I don’t want a vagina who won’t get on a roller coaster or work as hard as I do to build something together but every guy I meet are asshats. I’m open to the possibility of love but no one is up to par. I wonder if I’m just too picky and realize I am not even a little. They really are just all terrible.

  4. 24

    I think Barb is perfectly normal for wanting both a relationship AND wanting to be single. There are ways to  have a loving relationship that do not involve giving up all your freedom, getting married, or buying a house together. Barb is clearly capable of loving and being loved. It’s also wonderful to be out in the world able to direct where you will go.

    I agree with Evan that making a plan is important. I don’t agree that Barb doesn’t know what she wants. She wants both. Barb could make a plan in which she has adequate time to be on her own, to be ‘single’. The plan could also include spending time with her loved one. As long as she is clear with her partner/boyfriend about what she wants, and as long as they are on the same page, it is possible for that kind of arrangement to work. Barb, read Isabelle’s treatise  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/isabelle-teissier/i-to-be-single-but-with-you_b_7818158.html  I want to be single with you. Not wanting to move in with someone is not the same as being afraid of commitment or unable to love. I admire that you so clearly relish your independence and know so clearly what you like to do. You sound like a great person to be around, and you have every right to say when you want to alone too!

  5. 25

    Most of the women nowadays do have real commitment issues since it is very difficult for them just to commit to only one man since they like sleeping around with different men all the time.   And yet there are a lot of us men that just can be very happy with only one woman since many of us us really do know how to commit.   It is very unfortunate that we live in a very bad time now when years ago love came very easy especially if you were really looking for a good honest relationship since the men in those days were very lucky at that time which it did really work out for them too.   Today a whole different story which is why many of us good innocent men are still single today when we really should’ve never been at all since it does take two too tango today.

  6. 26

    I happened on this blog because I was looking for articles regarding how I’m feeling in my life right now. I’m a man in his middle 50’s who has been both married, and in long term relationships, and dated. A lot…I find it unfortunate that our genders are constantly playing the blame game against one another. We’re different. We think differently, act differently, and feel differently. Not always, and not in all things. Isn’t that what both attracts us, and also frustrates us? Whether man or woman, we just need to be honest with the other person and communicate how we feel. If you want to be single, have the courage to say so, and accept whatever the outcome is. Grow a set. If you really want to be in a relationship, then reciprocation and compromise is crucial. You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes, you get what you need. Why is it difficult to say “I just need some space for myself today”?? People shouldn’t have to be tied at the hip to be happy. Stringing someone along because YOU don’t have a grasp on what you really want, and are afraid to lose the pieces you want from that other person IS selfish. No one should have to accept crumbs when they should be able to have the whole cake. Be brave!!! Relationships are like taxi cabs…there’ll be another one along soon enough…if THAT’S what you want. If you want to be single, be comfortable enough in your own skin and honest enough not to lead the other gender to believe that you want what you really don’t.

  7. 27
    Tessa Rae

    I relate to this article as well!

    Here’s the thing; the guys she’s been with honestly DON’T sound worth it. Societally we’ve been conditioned into thinking that the epitome of happiness for a woman is to be in a relationship. Literally every disney movie from my childhood centers around this theme. This has not only programmed women to think and behave in this way, but also men. Men subconsciously will think that women really want the stability and security (no matter how fanciful it can be) that comes with being in a relationship.

    But what happens when you’re a girl who does have, daresay, things that bring her joy outside of a relationship?

    A lot of men will experience MASSIVE cognitive dissionance and ultimately feel threatened by the fact that a woman does not see relationships as being unanimous with happiness. With such a woman as in this article, they will feel threatened by things such as her working with a band on the weekend and tell her to stop doing things like that that bring her joy. (As soon as I read that, I was like, wow, that’s toxic). It puts into question literally almost everything about our programming to see women become free of desire for a relationship.

    Also for men, relationships are one of the only ways most men have emotional closeness in their life, so the concept of women not needing something nearly as much as they need it would be a bit threatening.

    I can see why so many rude commenters think that this woman is just along for the chase; but honestly, that’s not the feeling I get upon reading this. She seems to have a balanced idea of what she wants. No, she doesn’t want ‘a relationship’. She wants the *right* relationship. So when a good thing comes along, she’s not going to hold onto it desperately like some people do when they have a good relationship. Nor is she going to push it out of her life. She’s just going to keep doing her thing, and one day she might find that someone has been jogging alongside her for a while.

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