Author: Emiliya Tsaneva
It doesn’t matter how old you are, when a relationship doesn’t work out, it hurts deeply. If the same thing happens with your relationships over and over again, despite all the self-improvement work you’ve done, all the workshops and books, you slowly start asking yourself: “What’s wrong with me?!”. And then self-pity begins.
Society makes you believe that having a family at a certain age is a must. Not long ago it was a huge shame for a woman to be an “old maid”, because being a wife and a mother were the most important roles for women. Starting a family was necessary in order for the individual and its bloodline to survive. And no matter that today the term “old maid” is used rarely and a person can pretty well not only survive without a partner, but even flourish, you can still feel the tremendous social pressure to be part of a couple. So you automatically jump to the conclusion that something must be wrong with you, because nobody wants you. Some people still think that if a woman doesn’t have a husband and children, this means she is not fulfilled and is not worthy. It’s not okay to be over 30 (for the more tolerant ones over 35) and not to be in a committed relationship. And even though society is a bit more tolerant towards single men, they still seem suspicious – there is something fishy there. How come a successful man does not have a wife and a family? What’s wrong with him?
This social pressure gets nicely combined with the peer pressure – most of your friends are already married and have children and you tend to feel left out. Then your failed attempts at building a lasting relationship add further pressure on you and the end result often is depression. There is this vicious cycle – your wish for a relationship turns into a fixed idea and you invest everything you have in its pursuit. You find someone you like, but you are so obsessed with the idea of having a relationship and not failing again, that you actually grab onto the other person with despair. At the end things don’t work out, so you feel empty inside and fall into depression. You don’t feel like doing anything, you don’t want to see people, you feel like just sitting at home and feeling sorry for yourself. After a while you slowly start feeling some joy from life again and you feel like you would like to have a partner. Suddenly this becomes a fixed idea yet again and nothing else in your life matters that much anymore. And of course it happens again – you meet someone and you hope things will be different this time. However, things do go wrong again. So again you find yourself in the embrace of depression, however, this time your condition is heavier than the last one and it’s way more difficult to get out of there. With so many failed attempts at finding a partner, some people even start thinking about suicide – “I just don’t want to exist anymore!”, “I can’t take this pain anymore!”, “Obviously I don’t deserve to be loved…”.
Depression is a serious matter. Simply thinking positive doesn’t help. Even finding the desired partner won’t help you with your depression long-term. The lack of a partner and your failed relationships are just the trigger that starts depression. However, the cause for it is the belief that something is wrong with you. That you are not good enough, that you are not worth it. The lack of partner simply affirms this belief and rubs more salt into the wound, but this wound was already there. Being in a relationship is not a measure of attractiveness, worth or character. There are attractive people who stay single year after year. And there are overweight people, for example, who many won’t find that attractive, but who are in a happy relationship. There are people with difficult character, who have a partner who adores them. And there are single people who feel happy and satisfied with life, as well as people in a relationship, who can’t wait to get out of it. Being in a relationship or not does not measure your worth as a human being. So don’t use the lack of a partner as a way to ruin your self-worth and your confidence.
If you are in a depressive state and feel sorry for yourself yet again, because you don’t have a partner, maybe it is time to roll up your sleeves and finally start treating yourself well and giving yourself the support you need. Depression is a signal that it is time for you to change something. This doesn’t mean – find yourself a partner right now, at all cost, otherwise you will never be happy. No, this means – have a look at how to develop a gentle and supportive attitude towards yourself. How can you nourish your feeling of self-worth, so that you stop focusing so much on whether you have a partner or not. Having a partner will not cure your emotional wounds and the bad attitude towards yourself. When you have suffered so much sorrow and pain that inside of you it bleeds, your most urgent need is to take care of yourself. It is not to say “yes” to the first person out there who says they want you, just to prove to yourself that you are worth something. It is time to reverse the vicious cycle – fixed idea to be in a relationship – failed attempt – depression.
The relationship with a partner can be something very beautiful, that is true. However, it simply complements the happiness that is already in your life, it doesn’t create it from scratch. Often if you are unhappy single, you will most probably be unhappy in a relationship as well. The cause of this unhappiness is your attitude towards yourself.
So if you currently feel depressed, because your relationships haven’t worked out for you yet, you can support yourself the following way:
- Write down all the negative thoughts you have about yourself – too overweight, too short, too tall, not attractive enough, not stylish enough, not successful enough… All the nasty things you say to yourself. Simply write all of them down on the paper, so that you have clarity on what you have to deal with. Now imagine that these demeaning comments were written about someone else – a person who you really really love. What would you reply to this severe critic of the person you love? Write your reply down.
- Plan something nice for yourself each week and make sure you stick to it regularly. Just something that feels good for your soul and your body and gives you energy – a walk in the park, swimming, playing with a dog, massage, going to the cinema – whatever it is that makes you feel joy. Give this to yourself, even if at the moment you can’t really enjoy it fully. Joy gets accumulated drop by drop. At some point you will start feeling the reward from taking care of yourself.
- Accept that at the moment things are as they are and start thinking practically how to make use of the current situation the best way possible. When you are not in a relationship, you have time for other important aspects of your life and projects that you are totally enthusiastic about. Have a look at what brings out the passion in you and take your time for it.
Remember – you are worth it and you are allowed to enjoy life, no matter if you are in a relationship or single.