We get dressed up, go on dates, let ourselves feel vulnerable, because ultimately we’re looking for someone who “gets” us – from our silly jokes and our strange taste in films, to a deeper understanding, like why we worry about our mums. But if you keep on experiencing those stop-start relationships, or you constantly find yourself trying to escape from your relationship, then perhaps you’re just not ready for one yet. There’s nothing wrong with this – it just means you might benefit from time spent preparing yourself to be in a relationship, which can involve anything from improving your self confidence by learning a new skill, to seeking professional help with depression or long-term worries.
Many of us feel insecure for one reason or another. Some of us get round it by being high achievers, or drawing attention to our good points and disguising the not-so-good ones. Sometimes a new outfit can make us feel better, but there are occasions when your insecurity can get in the way of having a good relationship, especially if you’ve been feeling low or having bad luck for a long time.
It can come out in different ways – jealousy is a common one, often due to a belief that you’re not good enough in some way, or because one of your parents was disloyal. A good counsellor can help you overcome this. Some of us find ourselves constantly seeking reassurance, which ends up being self-defeating, because the more you ask for reassurance, the more your partner starts focusing on what might be wrong with you! Asking for reassurance ultimately makes you feel less secure, not more, because even while we feel compelled to ask, we’re still aware, somewhere at the back of our minds, that pestering our partner about whether we look nice is less attractive than confidently rocking our muffin-tops.
Other people simply withdraw once they’re in a relationship – delighted as they are with the person they’re with, they can’t quite believe that their new partner is interested in what they have to say. From the outside, this just looks like they don’t want to be friends, so the partner draws away.
Learning to enjoy your own company
If any of these sound familiar to you, it’s time to spend some time by yourself, learning what makes you happy, instead of trying to find someone to make you feel good about yourself. After all, that’s not what relationships are about; it’s not their job to boost your confidence all the time. Some people talk about “learning to love yourself”, which can sound pretty cheesy, but once you get your confidence back, you’ll notice that people really do respond to you differently when you’re not beating yourself up over every little thing.
When you’re feeling comfortable with yourself, you walk more confidently, dress more imaginatively, laugh more, and relax around people. The moment you stop hanging every chance of happiness on “finding the right relationship”, and start learning to be happy in yourself, you naturally begin to attract people. Once you do, you’ll still need to practise staying happy once you’re going out with them – just take it slowly, don’t make any promises for a year or so, and that’ll give you the chance to see them at their slobbiest, as well as on top form!