Struggling with "Common Humanity"

It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single Forums Welcome Struggling with "Common Humanity"

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    Hello forum,

    I’ve lurked here for a long time, but I’m finally going to make my first post.

    I noticed on an earlier thread that you guys were discussing self-compassion. I read Kristin Neff’s book a few years ago based on Sara’s recommendation in It’s Not You. I was so interested in how to cultivate self-compassion that I took a course on that topic offered at a local university (and met a guy…who was, of course, not interested…but that’s another story for another time).

    In Kristin’s book, she mentions that the three components of self-compassion are self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. To be honest, I struggle with all three…but for some reason, common humanity is especially difficult for me when it comes to dating. I know that I am not the only one hurting from loneliness and dating drudgery; this forum helps me to see that. However, instead of feeling relief from realizing I’m not alone, I start to feel even more afraid. I have thoughts like, “Well, if I’m not the only one with this problem, is my problem even important at all?” or “What if this is a global man-shortage? What if it’s all a result of the lousy economy like in Moira Weigel’s book (which I honestly haven’t read yet because I’m afraid of it)? If I’m not the only one with this problem, that must mean that there’s no solution!”

    I feel a little embarrassed to admit that this is a problem for me; I realize it could sound self-centered, especially the part about “My problem does not matter if it isn’t unique.” I just don’t know how to move past it. Can anyone relate? Does anyone else have as hard as time as I do with self-compassion? Does anyone else get anxious about the capitalistic nature of dating (ie, there are more women than men, so they get to be more choosey…and if I haven’t been chosen, that must mean I’m low value…)?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.



    Hi AgarrateCatalina, thanks for your post, and welcome!

    I haven’t read either of the books you mentioned (although both are on my list that I never seem to get through!) but I’ve definitely struggled with some of the same things you wrote about. Self-compassion doesn’t come easily for me either, but it’s something I’m slowly getting better at.

    Your question about whether a problem matters if it isn’t unique is an interesting one, and I don’t think it’s a self-centred at all. Sometimes when I’m struggling with something, I try to think of how it might apply to other situations to see if what I’m thinking still holds up. And so I started to think about other problems that impact big groups of people – things like being diagnosed with cancer or living through a natural disaster. These are problems faced by millions of people, but I don’t think anyone would say they are unimportant or that they don’t really matter. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own perceptions of things, and I know for me at least, its been good to try to identify and question some of the assumptions I have that mimght not actually hold true. You said in your post that you’re struggling to get past this, and I guess what I’m wondering is what would be different for you if you felt like your problem was more unique? Would you think or do anything differently?

    As for the capatalistic nature of dating, I can definitely relate to feeling anxious about that. “If I haven’t been chosen, I must be low value.” I have felt this to my core, and if there is a single negative thought that has defined my life it is probably this one. It’s been a long process but I have come to realize that this can’t really be true. Partly because I’ve learned to define my self-worth in a broader way, but also because it leaves out something pretty significant – the fact that I’m also doing the choosing (and I am trying to choose well and choose carefully). When I fall into that negative pattern of thinking I again try to question my own assumptions, which helps me realize that I’m only really focusing on part of the picture. I know it often doesn’t feel like it, but I really think finding love is mostly just the perfect mix of luck and circumstance.

    For me, knowing I’m not the only one with this problem has been comforting. I spent a long time feeling very alone with this and I found that to be incredibly hard. Knowing that there are others out there who have struggled in similar ways but eventually did find a partner gives me hope. And it’s also helped me realize that there’s more than one path to happiness, and that maybe the solution is just to embrace my life as it is and to be open to wherever it takes me. I don’t know if that helps, but for me at least, it’s made the journey easier.



    Hi, AgarrateCatalina! I just wanted to say I can relate on some levels. I do take comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who feels perpetually single, BUT when I hear about someone with “real” problems (chronic illness, death of a loved one, that sort of thing), it makes me feel stupid for wanting a boyfriend. Like, who cares?! Compared to other problems, it just seems silly. However, when I’m feeling that way, I try to show myself a little kindness. I try to remember that even though there are people with bigger problems, there is also room for my feelings. It’s okay to feel lonely and want a partner.

    The capitalistic nature of dating–what an interesting topic! I hadn’t really thought about it. Although I do think about the logistics of dating and how it really does seem tougher the older I get (I’m 36. My last and only relationship ended 5 years ago). There’s a part of me that feels like, ‘Hey, I’ll meet him when I meet him. I’m not in a rush!” But there’s another part of me that’s like, “Shit. Is it going to be even harder to meet someone after I turn 40?” There is a little bit of a ticking clock and I hate that.



    I listened to Self-Compassion recently and think it has a lot of great advice, especially for those of us who have a hard time with self-worth issues based on the fact that we weren’t “chosen”.
    The common humanity part is a little tricky for me because I don’t have many friends in my specific situation and in fact most of my friends are either married or divorced. When I am surrounded by friends with *seemingly* good marriages, I feel sad because I’m all by myself and haven’t experienced even half of what they have, have to do everything myself, etc. When I am around the divorced friends, I feel grateful and blessed that I didn’t have to go through such a heartbreak. Some friends are the ones who were left by their husbands while others have made the choice to leave. One friend is struggling because her husband doesn’t want to give in but wants to convince her to stay. Another friend thinks she wants to leave but doesn’t know how to. Other friends have been divorced for years, most have not remarried while some of their exes have.

    But even the divorcees or the other single folks have someone…best friends (who are also single/divorced) in the same town, family, roommates, etc.

    But even if I were to look at the common humanity aspect, it does kinda depress me because I see it’s not just hard to find a man, but a GOOD man that you’ll actually want to live with. It brings up a lot of mistrust, fear and dread that it’s almost impossible to be happily married.

    So, yeah, I feel you. Only thing I do is hope, pray and believe that nothing is impossible and miracles can happen to any and all of us. <3

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