August 19, 2016 at 11:17 PM #1303
I’m a 23 year old woman who’s never had a significant other in my life. For the most, every other area in my life is going well except for my relationship status.
I cry about this and worry that I won’t be in a relationship. It sounds silly I guess, but I’m worried because I’m almost in my mid-twenties without any long term dating experience and fear being a late bloomer in this realm will mean I don’t get married or have kids someday. So far I’ve only had first dates that go nowhere and a month-long fling that wasn’t what I wanted.
Has anyone spoken to a therapist about how to manage the negative aspects of single life. Some days it doesn’t bother me. But other I feel like life isn’t worth living being always by myself.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.August 20, 2016 at 1:17 AM #1304
God Bless your heart. Thank you for asking. From personal experience, I would suggest going to someone that you feel is compatible with you and who you feel good about. From my experience, I live in the States so can only attest to my experiences here, I found that I felt most comfortable with practitioners who had experienced what I was experiencing… longtime singledom. Otherwise, I found that there was always a fix-it solution to this “problem” and usually I was the cause of it. Seeking a practitioner became overwhelming, expensive and never-ending and I still felt resentful because it didn’t seem like anyone really understood me. Sara Eckel offers coaching. Perhaps if you wanted, you could look into her. Things can change so fast for you too. Life is worth living and yes, sharing it with someone is a natural longing that is important to acknowledge.August 20, 2016 at 4:31 AM #1309
Lurilene93, I’m sorry you’re feeling that way and I’m glad you reached out with your question. I think a lot of us here can really relate. I’m in my 30’s now but I remember having similar feelings when I was 23. At the time I felt so alone with my lack of relationship experience, but since then I have heard so many stories of people who found love for the first time in their late 20’s, 30’s and beyond. You’re still very young, and it just takes one person. Like ZoeLove said, things can change in an instant, so don’t lose hope.
In terms of therapy, ZoeLove’s experience has been similar to mine. I did some coaching with Sara earlier this year and she was wonderful – so kind and supportive, and she helped me sort through my thoughts and feelings and figure out some good next steps. I would wholeheartedly recommend her if you’re looking for someone to talk to. I agree with ZoeLove that it’s important to find a therapist who understands our experience. Sara is married now but was also single for a number of years, and I really like that she can offer an understanding of both perspectives (being single and being in a long-term relationship).
My only other experience with therapy was about a year before my session with Sara, and it wasn’t the most positive experience. I only did one session and to be fair, I was seeking help primarily for another reason (coping with a parent’s cancer diagnosis), but my single status came up during the conversation (it was a period of time when I was feeling very sorry for myself, dealing with loneliness and a difficult family situation while watching many of my friends get married and start their families). She wasn’t very supportive and didn’t seem to understand where I was coming from or why I couldn’t just fix it if I really wanted to. I think it can be difficult for people who found love more easily to appreciate that it doesn’t happen like that for everyone, and I left that session feeling empty and misunderstood.
I think therapy can be really valuable, but it’s important to find the right person, and sometimes it can take time to find a good fit. As someone who didn’t really start talking about this stuff until my 30’s, I wish I had done so sooner, for whatever that’s worth (I don’t know if it would have changed the outcome but I think it would have helped me to feel better about myself at least). Sending you a big hug and lots of support.August 20, 2016 at 9:20 AM #1310
Thank you for your feedback. I’m going to consider doing some coaching with Sara.
I had written a dating advice columnist on this topic a few weeks back and like you two mentioned, her first response was “Something’s wrong with you.” Luckily I had read Sara Eckel’s book so I just rolled my eyes at her statement. Before I would’ve been really upset about it.
Hopefully our unique experiences with dating and relationships gets reflected in cultural discourse someday. I know people who get into relationships almost at the drop of a hat, but I know many who take years to find the right person. This needs to be talked about more often.August 20, 2016 at 10:22 PM #1311
Lurline93 – please don’t feel bad about your age and lack of relationship history. I had a guy friend of mine get married for the first time at 41, and aside from his wife, I think he’d had one other girlfriend in college. By 23, I had only had one boyfriend in high school. I totally consider myself a late bloomer.
If you feel as though seeing a therapist may help you – go for it. I’m a huge advocate for therapy. If you attend a place of worship, that is a great place to start in looking for references. Also, your primary care physician, or possibly, someone from human resources at work can point you in a good direction.
Keep your chin up…you’re not the only one who struggles. :)August 23, 2016 at 1:19 AM #1317
First, kudos for you for reaching out and good for you for your willingness to seek help.
Only YOU know what has or hasn’t happened in your life and only YOU may have insight into the reason for your lack of relationship history at this point. 23 isn’t very old and others are right that there are many people for whom it did eventually happen. And if it’s a minor issue where you just need some pointers or suggestions, that’s one thing.
HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER … if you have ANY … I repeat ANY suspicion that it could be due to either a hangup, any kinds of fears (especially deep-seated ones), childhood experiences or the way you were raised, or any other “non-simple” issues … I would urge you to seek out a good therapist … and it takes a LOT of work to find someone that you click with. Actually, if this is the case, you are much better off seeing someone who is past this point of singledom and who has been through all the experiences of relationships and who can use those experiences to help you … but who at the same time treats people in the dating world.
I know that Sara is a wonderful person … I can tell from her readings. But coaching … is not therapy. Coaching is appropriate for people who need suggestions, who need “tweaking” in their approach, maybe someone who needs suggestions on where to go to meet people, how to behave on dates, how to dress, whether to see someone again, when to have sex, etc.
And I wouldn’t waste any time getting started because depending upon the issue, it can take a few months, a few years, or many years. I tell you this because while I was normal in every aspect of my life, I also went many years without any serious dating or relationship experience. But it wasn’t just simple adjustments that were needed – I had hangups that took me years and years to work through. And I DID start with therapy early-on. Yet still, I didn’t start dating in earnest till I was in my 30s and I’m embarrassed to say when my first relationship was. And as a result, I have completely missed out on ever being able to have a family and at this point, possibly even being married or finding someone.
The dating world is very cruel. Late bloomers (depending upon how late, of course) are looked upon in a very taboo way. I have approached divorcee after divorcee only to find that they want nothing to do with late bloomers (I have 3 single friends in their 40s/50s who have had the same issue). And there just aren’t that many single never married people left who truly want to be in a relationship.
So … if you’re certain that all you need are some adjustments and someone to talk to, Sara or a dating coach will be fine. But if you suspect any kind of emotional issue, I recommend a good therapist asap.
Good luck!August 23, 2016 at 1:38 AM #1318
Lurline93, good for you for not letting that ridiculous response get to you! I hate that so many so-called “relationship experts” give such awful advice. I completely agree that our experience needs to be better reflected in mainstream culture, and it seems like that’s finally starting to happen thanks to writers like Sara Eckel, Sasha Cagen, Melanie Notkin and others. I know we still have a long way to go, but it’s a start, and I’m so grateful to them for telling their stories and sparking discussions and connections that will lead to positive change.August 23, 2016 at 3:20 AM #1319
Thanks for sharing your experiences, eldogg. I agree that coaching and therapy are not the same thing, and that there are definitely situations where therapy is probably the better choice. But as someone who has had some coaching with Sara, I just wanted to say that my experience with her was very different from what you described in your post. Yes, she gave me some suggestions for how to meet people and how to handle the question about my lack of relationship experience when it comes up on dates (because I had asked for them), but beyond that we didn’t talk at all about how to behave on a date, what to wear, how to get a second date, etc. In fact, a lot of what we talked about didn’t have much to do with dating at all. Our discussion mostly centred around helping me deal with negative emotions and thinking patterns in a more positive way, coping with a difficult family situation (unrelated to dating, although it was impacting my dating experience to some degree), and practicing mindfulness. I think there is a place for dating coaches and a place for traditional therapy, but I would describe what Sara does as falling somehwere in the middle. She has knowledge, experience, and access to resources in a wide variety of areas, with the added benefit of being someone who understands what it’s like to be single for a long time and can offer advice through that lens.
Sara may or may not be the right fit for Lurline93, but I just thought it was important to accurately reflect what it’s like to work with her. That way she (and anyone else who might be reading these posts) can make an informed decision for themselves and what would be best for their own unique situation.August 23, 2016 at 9:17 AM #1320
Thanks for the feedback mariposa and eldogg!
My life hasn’t always been easy of course, but one thing I have worked on is my social skills over the past few years with the help of a mentor.
Mariposa you mentioned that Sara helped you with negative thinking. I think that’s my biggest problem. I’m confident in most other areas of my life except for dating due to my experiences. So I think a blend of coaching and therapy would be best.
As for hangups, my parents have had a pretty bad marriage for all of my life, yet they still stayed together.
I don’t think being in a relationship would make me happier or make my problems disappear since life has its ups and downs for all of us. I don’t think I’ll have “made it” either when I have a significant other; it’s just a life experience like any other. I just want to develop a sense of optimism that I’ll meet someone compatible and who we can share mutual interest since that has not happened at all yet. It’s so simple yet so complicated at times.August 23, 2016 at 12:35 PM #1322
Lurline93, I am coming in late to the conversation, and I agree with what’s been said. Having been involved in both coaching and therapy (as a recipient of coaching, not a coach, and as both a therapist and therapy recipient) it is very true that they are different. What I find in therapy is that the discussion can become about larger issues, that may not be as appropriate if you’re generally happy, well adjusted, and simply want to tweak how you relate to others via dating. It also may not be covered under health insurance if you do not have a diagnosable condition (and a therapist should not diagnose you simply for billing purposes). Dating and relationship coaches know about dating, interactions, and where people commonly go wrong. I have learned things from coaching that weren’t made clear in therapy, and the information was more easily applicable (if that makes sense!).
Your family of origin sounds like mine…parents stayed together despite being in a very contentious relationship. This really effected the lens in which I relate to men in relationships. Therapy can really help with some of those more complex topics, but if that’s not what you want to spend your time and energy exploring, factor that into your decision making!August 23, 2016 at 2:09 PM #1326
Mariposa, I’m glad to hear that Sara was able to step outside being a coach. I don’t know what her qualifications are or if she has any training at all, I’m merely saying that if something is a major issue it may require a more therapeutic approach. If coaching works, great. And I’m not sure all coaches would have that ability to step beyond being a coach. You have to be very careful … anyone can claim to be a coach these days and put up a shingle, you don’t have to be accredited.
I would be interested if Sara cares to post her thoughts on how to handle lack of relationship experience with a new person actually. That has been an issue for me in the past.August 23, 2016 at 3:27 PM #1327
Dear Lurline, you are so young !But I still relate to everything you have said, when I was your age I had almost the same issues you have and I still have them now. While I agree with eldogg about getting some help sooner rather than later, I also advise you to be careful whom you choose as your therapist/coach/mentor etc. and how deep you go into this self-development thing. As someone who went into therapy for two years due to a tragic event I went through at a certain point in my life, I can tell you that psychology and psychologists can do you good but also a lot of harm. While in the beginning you may find that therapy is changing you into a better, more profound person (and indeed it does), as the time passes it may leave you with some scars, such as a grimmer outlook on life, constant rumination, helplessness in the face of the harsh world we live in, inability to relate to more mundane issues etc. This is something that happened to me and I have seen it in other people around me as well, so I don’t think it was just my case. In fact, there are books and blogs written by ex-patients and ex-therapists who explain the negative effects that therapy had on them ( either bad therapist or bad therapy or staying too long in therapy). Watch out for the manipulative types of doctors! For those who tend to impose their side of the truth, for those who tend to solve their own issues at your expense. That being said, I would advise you to seek help, if you feel like doing it, but with caution and if you feel something is not right, have the power to give up therapy and seek help elsewhere.August 23, 2016 at 3:38 PM #1328
Good points Alexandra. And the other problem I had with several therapists was that it is very easy to get caught up in this kind of “patient subserviant” relationship because you are the one who is vulnerable and they are the ones who are “in command” and are the “scholars” and have the experience … so to speak. That type of relationship can cause one to be more patient than you should be and itis very unmotivating to search for another one because they are so hard to find.
What you learn is that they are also imperfect, they are human beings.
The moral here is if you don’t find yourself making reasonable progress within 6 or 12 months, it’s time to move on. I stayed with therapists for years because I was told that it’s normal for deep-seated issues to take a long time to resolve. I regret having listened to them.August 28, 2016 at 1:10 PM #1340
I can relate to that idea of going to a therapist and them not quite getting it as well. I tried going and really only wanted to be heard and justified (or simply reminded that nothing was actually wrong with me). I spent a long time searching and then became a therapist myself. Since I am unable to know every person’s story from personal experience, I do not share my experiences with clients (as I cannot profess I completely understand their own experience). However, my being single and never having married allows me to be a much more emphatic and hopefully understanding therapist. Being single for a long time offers it’s own challenges and ultimately forces us into learning a whole lot more than if we had another person sharing in it.
I do offer online therapy as well in case this is helpful Lurline93.
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