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    Old 11-23-2005, 05:17 AM   #1
    stacykgb20
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    dating again and feeling lost/confused

    Hi guys, I'm sorry to have disappeared for awhile...I tried to cope with my chronic pain all on my own for awhile and it didn't go well, to say the least, though I am now back under my doctor's care and much more functional. Anyway, that resulted in a not unwelcome break from dating but now that I'm feeling better and able and wanting to go out again, I could really use any insight or advice that you have to offer. Iím quite confused as to how to proceed with men at this point, which is a pretty unfamiliar feeling, as in the past Iíve always dated a lot and never been single for long. I've tended to go from one long-term, serious relationship to the next intermingled with various flings, and when Iíve been single, Iíve been really happy seeing numerous guys at once. My last (3 year, ultra-serious, living together from day one) relationship ended over six months ago, and I started dating frequently and regularly soon after...Iíd really missed seeing different guys and going out a lot.

    I should probably explain that I donít have much in common with most women when it comes to my approach to datingóIíve always had a very strong sex drive and since I was quite young, I've sexually desired and experienced a wide variety of men. I've always been that way and am very content with this approach to dating and sex, but I know it's unusual and outside the mainstream, especially for women, which makes dealing with men tricky if I'm to be completely honest with myself and indulge my natural instincts and desires. Relationships, commitment, and monogamy donít really appeal to me, though Iíve had a lot of experience with all three because I get on well with men and even though Iíd prefer to stay single and free to date around, I tend to meet great guys just when Iíve resolved to remain unattached and end up sucked into relationships because they push the issue. When I was younger, more selfish, and less considerate, I used to cheat pretty regularly, or at least have considerable overlap between relationships. While Iíve been lucky to have been in love with a number of wonderful guys, being tied down to one is just not at all natural or appealing to me. A lot of people donít understand that or even refuse to believe it, but thatís just the way Iíve been since as far back as I can rememberówhat appeals to me most is the pattern Iíve always followed, more or less, which is to have a number of close male friends, some of whom have been much more than that to me during various periods of our relationships.

    Iím still in my early twenties, but the prospect of marriage and settling down with one guy has never been and never will be something I desireÖthis is causing me a lot of confusion as I try to figure out how to approach dating from now on. For those of you who have followed my dating exploits this year, Patrick and I split in the spring, then I online-dated for awhile until I hooked up with Justin for a few months, then I moved on to playing the field again. That was all well and good until about a month ago, when the chronic pain condition Iíve been fighting won the battle when I decided to detox off the meds I was taking (among the dozens of meds my doctors have prescribed all along) and ended up way too sick and weak to do anything at all, much less date. I ignored all the emails and winks from the dating site Iíve been using until very recently, when I started feeling better after conceding my futile war against relying on meds to function. After doing nothing and feeling so awful for weeks, Iím anxious to get back out and start dating again, but Iím really torn as to how to proceed. I have my hands full coping with my chronic pain, trying to work, get on with my life, and apply to grad school.

    While Iím always happy to be dating a variety of guys and having fun without answering to anyone, I really really donít have the slightest interest in a boyfriend or a relationship anytime in the foreseeable future. But I feel uncomfortable and guilty about dating under these conditions, as what I see both here and in the real world leads me to believe that men must quite reasonably assume that all single woman want to find a boyfriend and settle into a committed relationship. I canít help but think that if a guy posted about wanting to play the field and sleep around with no attachments, people would chastise him if he dated without taking this into account somehowóthe problem is, I donít know how to account for it. I am an honest and upfront, even blunt, person to a fault, but I feel like the world doesnít really believe that there are confident, emotionally healthy women out there who donít want to find Mr. Right and live happily ever after and for whom marriage and commitment hold absolutely no appeal. Iíve been happy with online dating so far and want to continue, but I donít have any idea how to approach it now that Iím more settled in my determined-to-stay-single mindset than ever before, especially since without fail, adopting this mindset has always resulted in a guy coming along to temporarily blind me to this fact and ensnare me in a relationship. I donít want to cheat or lie; I just want to be free and unattached and I donít see that changing anytime soon, so is it even fair for me to be out dating and potentially hurting a number of guys? I really donít know what to do or how to handle thisÖplease help if you have any suggestions for me at all. Thanks in advance everyone!

     
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    Old 11-23-2005, 05:44 AM   #2
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    I don't see the confusion here?
    If you don't desire long-term relationships or committments, just be honest when putting yourself out there. From the get go tell whom ever you are interested in dating that you are only into "dating" and nothing else. I am sure there are men out there with the same intentions.
    If you are honest in the beginning, it's up to the men whether or not they are into the same type of situation. That way, everyone knows from the start what the boundaries are.

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 06:17 AM   #3
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by susieq0726
    I don't see the confusion here?
    If you don't desire long-term relationships or committments, just be honest when putting yourself out there. From the get go tell whom ever you are interested in dating that you are only into "dating" and nothing else. I am sure there are men out there with the same intentions.
    If you are honest in the beginning, it's up to the men whether or not they are into the same type of situation. That way, everyone knows from the start what the boundaries are.
    Yes, I have to say that I don't really understand the confusion, either, Stacy. If anything, I would think it would be exceedingly easy to find a guy who's looking for exactly the same things as you are, especially in your age group. Most men in their early or mid 20s probably aren't looking for marriage and commitment, either, so I think you would be on the same page with them. They probably wouldn't believe their luck they found a woman who doesn't want to "ensnare" them

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 06:34 AM   #4
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    I guess I'm confused because I've never been quite so clear on what I do and don't want from dating before, and when I have felt this way in the past, which was usually, I wasn't upfront about it. So being honest and clear about my intentions from the start is completely new to me, and I have no idea how and when to discuss it with guys I date. I assume it's not the best thing to explicitly explain right when I meet someone, so at what point should I make my position clear? Should I say something to the effect that I don't want a relationship in my online profile or wait until I meet someone once or go on a few dates? Is it even fair for me to be advertising on a mainstream dating site when I'm not interested in finding a boyfriend? I guess I'm just concerned and confused because I want to be honest and clear, which I'm not too proud to say is something new for me, and I'm not sure how to go about expressing myself. I'm also wondering if I should even be dating when I'm so opposed to developing a relationship because every time I've resolved this in the past, I've ended up in a relationship in spite of my intentions. Maybe some of my concern is because I've been anxious in general lately because of my pain and detoxing from various drugs, but I can't help but feel like I'm being shady somehow. In addition to not knowing when to broach this subject, I don't have the slightest idea how to phrase it and not turn guys off by having them think I'm trying to use reverse psychology or something or that I'm sex-starved...I tried to think about how I'd want a guy to mention the same issue, but I'm at a loss. I'm worried that no one really believes someone when they are so blunt about what they do and don't want from dating, as every guy in the past who I've resolved not to date seriously hasn't taken no for an answer. But now I really mean it, and I just don't know how to proceed...does that help clarify what I'm asking for in terms of advice at all? Maybe I explained it better in my email, Sophia?

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 06:39 AM   #5
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    I must agree with Susie in that honesty from the start will eliminate any potential hurt that may result from your dating style. Just as it is when guys date this way, you must prepare yourself for many who are looking for a monogamous relationship to not be interested and be careful not to take this as a form of rejection but rather as a sense of reality that most people are looking for long term relationships. Most of us assume that this is the dating style of men, when in fact there are just as many men who are not interested in just sex and looking for something monogamous like many women are. I am sure that some of our male posters will hop on board and get into this further since I really can't speak for them. So long as you keep it all in perspective you shouldn't encounter many problems.

    Also, realize that most men like that scenario when not looking for something serious but when the time comes that they are, they will either look for more of a committment on your part or move on to somebody else who is on the same page as them in terms of committment. So long as you look at this all realistically then there should be no problem.

    Personally, when I see someone dating in this manner (and there was a period in my life that I played the field ) it is from my experience that the person is doing so from deep hurt and disappointment in a previous realtionship. I dated many guys at the same time after coming from my abusive relationship. I can't help but wonder if you are doing the same thing after suffering great loss after being with Patrick for 3 years in a monogamous relationship. It's almost a protective defensive mechanism (at least it was for me) after coming from a painful relationship when you feel somewhat out of control and wish to be in total control of how your heart is going to handle dating again. And that's perfectly okay so long as you realize that it is a temporary thing until you are able to trust in love again and meet the right one who will allow you to love again and put your trust in being monogamous once again. Being open & honest with the other party is vital....because without doing so you will feel as if it all is against your nature and guilt will set in. I was honest with each of the guys I was seeing and for the most part they were okay because sometimes that's just the way people date. Just some food for thought that may help you understand what you may be going through at this time.

    I am glad to see that you are back on your feet again. As your cybermom I have had my share of worries when it comes to you, Stacy I have posted on another thread of yours and perhaps you can address my concerns more over there.

    Big (((HUGS))) and love ~ Goody

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Stacykgb20
    I assume it's not the best thing to explicitly explain right when I meet someone, so at what point should I make my position clear?
    I think the time to do so is before you become intimate....that's when I would have liked to know and I think men deserve the same courtesy.

    Last edited by goody2shuz; 11-23-2005 at 06:42 AM.

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 06:41 AM   #6
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    If you are involved in on-line dating, I would be honest and put that in your bio. Something to the effect of "Twenty something woman looking for fun times with no strings" Maybe not those exact words, but you get the picture.
    If you meet a man somewhere other than on-line, there will be a time when you talk about your life and what you are wanting at the moment. That's when you tell them what you are looking for.

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 06:51 AM   #7
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    I agree with the others. I think you are very clear about what you want and as long as you are honest, to the men you are seeing, no one can say they weren't warned. I'd say the same thing to any man posting the same. One thing though, your post was all about strength and responsibility for your actions until the part about men "ensnaring" you. As an independent and very strong women, you know the decision to care for the men in your life, is one YOU make. Men don't trap you into caring for them, you CHOOSE to. If you are not looking for a long term relationship with a man you are seeing, then YOU must take whatever steps you need, to prevent that. If you don't, well then, the results are as much from your actions as his.

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 06:54 AM   #8
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    There's nothing wrong with the way you feel. I can totally RELATE. I have felt that way most of my life. Marriage has never really appealed to me. I guess that's why I always pick men who don't really want commitment. Yet, at the same time, I am very much attracted to the concept of intimacy and relationships. Relationships can take all kinds of different forms, be it marriage or a "fling". What counts is the quality of each relationship and what we learn about ourselves from that relationship.

    Just be yourself and don't worry what the world may say. The most important thing you can do is love yourself.

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 06:56 AM   #9
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    Thanks guys! I agree that it makes the most sense to explain where I'm coming from in my profile and definitely before anything physical takes place. Susie, do you think the wording you suggested connotes that I'm only interested in sex? While to be honest with myself, that is mainly the case, I'd also like to date different guys casually without getting exclusively committed to anyone. I wouldn't be that concerned about making this clear if it was a temporary thing, but I think my relationships have been the exceptions rather than the rule of my approach to men and dating. Patrick was the only boyfriend of about a dozen who I didn't cheat on, and I was tempted on numerous occasions by a variety of male friends and acquaintances. I'm just not sure if I ever see that changing...I want to have kids, but because of my values and financial situation, I've never viewed marriage as even remotely desirable. The concept of finding one guy and never again being with someone else is frightening and repugnant to me and always has been--since I can remember feeling desire, it's always been for a variety of guys, and I much prefer the model I've followed of having unorthodox friendships/relationships with more than one guy to monogamy. I've always viewed marriage as the embodiment of everything I dislike and don't want-- religion and oppression and sexism and women being property and having to give up half of everything they own. Yet from being around other women and reading what so many want here, I feel like the only woman in the world who is repulsed by the idea of being tied down to one man even temporarily, let alone the only one who finds marriage an outdated, unnatural, and repressive concept...I can't help but worry about the effect this will have on my dating interactions with guys especially as I get older. Obviously I haven't done a good job of sticking to the kinds of relationships I want thus far and need to make some significant changes to my approach...I'm worried that I'll end up falling into the same patterns as always if I don't. Then again, maybe I'm worrying too much; I really just don't know which is why I am blabbering on and repeating myself and feeling desperate for advice.

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 07:06 AM   #10
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    Well I have never dated on-line, but had a good friend that did and we used to look at profiles together when she was trying to find men to date. The wording ranged from wanting a committed relationship to just wanting fun and good time, and some you KNEW were just for sex.
    I guess you need to be honest with yourself as well as potential daters. ARE you just looking for sex?????? Be honest. There's nothing wrong with having a strong sex drive and just wanting sex. If so, word your ad "seductively"
    If you are looking for someone to just spend some time with having fun, word you ad accordingly.
    I will add this though: BE CAREFUL. On-line dating can attract some weirdos You don't want some freaky guy responding to you that is into some weird stuff (if you know what I mean,,,,unless of course you are into weird stuff yourself!!! )

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 07:27 AM   #11
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    LOL!! Thanks Susie...that is great advice, and you are quite right about the, um, variety of guys to be found dating online. I've been fairly lucky so far, but none of us can escape all the oddballs out there! Then again, you might just be on to something about me being an oddball too, so I best not judge anyone . I am going to take a good look at my profile and will probably be back beseeching more help. I don't know how you guys do it, but you always manage to provide EXACTLY the right advice...I honestly have no idea how I navigated the world of men before I found you all.

    GE, it means a great deal to me to read your comments, and I must admit I was really hoping you would chime in and understand where Iím coming from! I think we take a very similar view toward dating, and you are one of an admirable minority of women I know who seems genuinely happy and content with her lifeÖsince the vast majority of these strong and independent women who I know arenít married, that only makes me more leery of the institution. Outside of Goody and a few other women, Iím hard-pressed to think of many woman who seem gratified and happy within marriage, while nearly all the unmarried women I know personally are fulfilled and content with their independent lives and freedom, free of financial dependence or having to deal with feeling trapped or being mistreated/neglected/cheated on. But at the same time, as you said, love is very important to me, and Iíve been deeply in love numerous times with several men who I still love and who I know still love me, regardless of whether Iím in a relationship at any given time. I just feel like itís time to grow up and face up to how I am and what I want rather than trying (largely unsuccessfully) to conform to the typical societal pattern of romantic relationships.

    And Evy, you hit the nail on the headÖmy central and biggest fear about dating from here on out is that Iím nervous about going so drastically against the grain and against peopleís expectations of how women act and what they want as they mature. Iíve never been able to avoid relationships in the past once I meet a man I fall head over heels for, even while deep down Iíve known that I wasnít cut out to love one and only one man. How am I supposed to proceed if I do fall hard for someone and want to spend a lot of time together, yet still not desire a committed and monogamous relationship? I donít want to handle that as I have in the past as I really think I need to grow up, be honest and forthright, and take responsibility for my actionsÖitís one thing to be a party girl and not take relationships seriously as a teenager and college student, but I donít want to go on like that anymore. I know this isn't exactly an earth-shattering problem, and that I've been lucky in love and am fortunate enough to know myself and what makes me happy better than many people (and to be happy on my own), and maybe I'm making a big deal and getting all anxious over nothing...it's hard for me to tell these days considering all the chemicals I'm trying to purge from my body. But I do feel more clear-headed than I have in awhile and certain that I need to grow up and be as honest with everyone else as I am with myself...not that there's anything wrong with chemicals, but as I said, I'm getting a bit old to be a party girl, especially now that I'll probably need to rely on drugs to function with my medical issues for the forseeable future. Anyway, thanks so much everyone--you guys are the best, always honest and insightful and wonderfully supportive friends .


    PS--And to the world's best mom (in a tie with my own mom)--you are so incredibly kind and sweet to worry about me, and in an attempt to stay on topic, I replied on my other thread about my medical condition. I have been thinking of you often and wishing you all the best, particularly with regard to your pain, so I hope all is well in the Goody clan and I can't tell you how much I appreciate all your love and support

    Last edited by stacykgb20; 11-23-2005 at 08:16 AM.

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 01:09 PM   #12
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stacykgb20
    How am I supposed to proceed if I do fall hard for someone and want to spend a lot of time together, yet still not desire a committed and monogamous relationship?:
    But how can you fall 'hard' for someone and still want to have sex with other people? I guess I am not capable of understanding this statement. Does being crazy in love with a man not make you somewhat oblivious to others? I was under the impression you just don't fall in love with any of these guys, which would make sense, but you're saying you are capable of falling deeply in love with one or more at the same time, yet would not want a relationship with them? I'm just curious. It's very interesting.

    As for wording your profile to reflect that you're not looking for anything long-term, I don't think it should be too difficult. You could just say you're just looking to meet new people, go out, and have a good time at this point. I think most of these guys, especially the ones your age, are not looking for anything serious, either, so it almost doesn't matter what you write. Just go out and have fun, don't worry so much about explaining yourself.

    Last edited by SophiaM; 11-23-2005 at 01:12 PM.

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 01:25 PM   #13
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    [QUOTE=stacykgb20]LOL!!

    Iíve never been able to avoid relationships in the past once I meet a man I fall head over heels for, even while deep down Iíve known that I wasnít cut out to love one and only one man. How am I supposed to proceed if I do fall hard for someone and want to spend a lot of time together, yet still not desire a committed and monogamous relationship?


    Stacy, you're looking at this as too "black or white". You don't have to make up your mind right now for the rest of your life! Just because right now you don't want to be married or in a serious relationship, doesn't mean you're eliminating that possibility from your future options! You always have choices. When you find someone you fall for, you don't have to avoid a relationship just because you're not ready for marriage! Just tell him you like him a lot and want to spend a lot of time with him, but you're not ready for marriage right now or a serious relationship! And keep an open mind to the possibility of that changing!
    I think once you find a guy you fall for, like Sophia said, it's not going to be hard to give up sex with other men! And if it does become a war between wanting to be serious with someone and wanting to see other men, then you are going to have to make a decision! No big deal, people make choices all the time. Yes, someone may get hurt, but that is a gamble we all take when we embark on the search for love! Don't worry so much about things that aren't even factors yet. You will stress yourself out and go crazy!
    Enjoy dating casually for now! And yes, I'm sure plenty of guys would enjoy that type of relationship! You can go out for drinks with one guy on a Friday night, have a great time, then never see him again! Nothing wrong with that, as long as he knows what to expect!

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 03:41 PM   #14
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    I agree with Rose's comment that you don't have to make up your mind now for the rest of your life.

    If you're not looking for anything serious now, fine. Put in your profile that you're looking to date and have fun. You're an intelligent and well spoken woman and you definitely know what you want and don't want at this time, but you're still very young. People grow and change A LOT between 20-30. You're adamantly against marriage now, but in 10 years you may WANT to get married. Just have fun and keep an open mind.

     
    Old 11-23-2005, 09:36 PM   #15
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    Re: dating again and feeling lost/confused

    Thanks again for the great advice, Sophia, Rose, and HIT. What you said about how to proceed with online dating and not to worry too much about the future really rings true and has definitely helped quell my recent anxiety about this stuff (which is probably not completely separate from the anxiety I've been having while detoxing from meds and experiencing increased pain). I know intellectually that it doesn't do any good to worry about this stuff and that everything has a way of working out for the best in time. I do like being in love and am looking forward to future romances, though I strongly doubt that one love and particularly one lover will satisfy me for the rest of my life once I find him, no matter who he is. I've loved probably half a dozen guys, maybe a few more as friends, and of those I've been absolutely obsessively, head over heels, crazy in love with three. Even if it wasn't real or true love with the first two guys (each love affair lasted several years), and I know both relationships were built on unusually passionate and deep love, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the love I shared with Patrick was rare and amazing, the kind of closeness and intimacy and understanding that few people ever experience even once. There was something very special about the way we treasured each other, which is in part because we are both capable of loving and being loved on an unusually deep level, and in a lot of ways I think we loved each other too much to sustain a lasting relationship in the real world. If we could have spent our lives in our little nest together and shut everyone else out, I truly think our love would still be intensifying each and every day, but it was too intense and made us too vulnerable to deal with the most difficult obstacles the outside world placed in our path.

    Anyway, Iím sorry to ramble on like that, Iím just trying to convey that I think the way I feel about love, especially my ability and tendency to love more than one partner, wasnít shaped by not having found someone who swept me off my feet and made me fall so hard that I finally became like other people who find the prospect of loving one person enough to sustain a lifelong monogamous relationship not only appealing but also feasible. I figure that having loved as passionately, as much, and as often as I have in my first decade of dating, Iím very unlikely to limit myself to just one great love over the rest of my life. To answer your question, Sophia, to a large extent I do understand what itís like to be so crazy in love with someone so as to all but lose interest in other potential partners, because I certainly loved Patrick that way, loving him as wholeheartedly and passionately as I did, but only to a certain extent. There were still other men who I came to know who I found intensely attractive, with whom I experienced explosive mutual chemistry, and with whom I would have gleefully made love if not for loving Patrick too much to hurt such a gentle, loving, and trusting man so horribly. So while I think what Rose and Sophia said about it not being tough to give up wanting and caring for other men when one finds someone they truly love holds true for a great many people, especially women, but I know for a fact it isnít true for me. And that more than anything is what really worries meóthat the rest of the world, including all the men Iíve loved so far, have wanted a monogamous, serious relationship, and Iím concerned that Iíll never be happy in that situation and that it will require either sublimating and repressing my own feelings and desires for other men or result in me betraying and wounding a man I must have loved very much if I agreed to commit to him.

    So the bottom line is that no matter how much I love one man, I donít think there is much chance at all that Iíll lose my longing for all others, nor be prevented from loving more than one man very genuinely and deeply at one time (which I have done throughout most of my dating years). While this doesnít necessarily preclude me from serial monogamy, which is essentially what Iíve always experienced with the men Iíve loved so far, it seems to preclude any possibility of a happy and fulfilling lifelong partnership with one man. Knowing this as I start dating again (particularly with the memory that it has never taken me long after getting back on the market to fall for a great guy and enter into a loving, serious relationship) is really freaking me out, though I do realize that Iím fortunate to have been consistently lucky in love rather than face the opposite predicament of yearning for lasting love without finding any suitable partners. Iíve never been quite this honest or blunt with myself before, let alone with others (even wise and trusted friends like you guys), and I am really scared of falling back into the kind of all-consuming love I felt for Patrick when because of my very nature, such a relationship seems doomed from its inception. Nonetheless, all the advice that you have offered as to how I should proceed with dating makes a ton of sense and helps me feel much calmer, more optimistic, and less apprehensive. Just having the chance to get this all out and explain myself and what Iíve been worrying about has been very therapeutic and helped assuage my fears and doubts to a significant extent. Part of me has always felt very distant and different from people, especially in their approach to relationships, which is why it is so comforting to me that kind and non-judgmental friends like you have taken the time to try and understand where I am coming from and provide me with such helpful and accurate advice. Thank you so much, and Iíd be extremely grateful if anyone has any further insight, suggestions, or feedback to offer.

     
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