I have had a lot of students say to me, “Dealing with change and handling stress would be so much easier if I had a boyfriend or girlfriend”. True or False? Life is easier if you have someone to depend on and go through it with? My honest opinion is that it depends.
I’ve had people in my counseling office who have had boyfriends and girlfriends or marriage partners that have made their life 100 times harder. There were many times in my single life that I was thankful that I wasn’t in a relationship based on what I saw and heard from others. Being a counselor puts me in a unique position to see behind the walls into what relationships are really like. Many people are in relationships for the wrong reasons and at least from what they tell me in counseling, aren’t finding life any easier or less stressful because they have someone by their side.
However, I do believe that life can be easier if you find a great person to be with. I have to admit I like the fact that my husband takes out the garbage and mows our lawn. I used to hate having to do those things by myself. It is nice to be able to ask him for help instead of doing everything myself. The reason I decided to marry him is because, for the most part, he makes my life easier. We get along and I like that we depend on each other.
A very important lesson I learned while I was single (No, I didn’t get married at age 24, I got married at age 36 so I had a lot of single years) was that I needed to find myself before I could find Mr. Right. I learned to deal with change, stress, owning a house, paying bills, mowing the lawn, fixing a leaking faucet, killing spiders, taking care of two cats, cooking my own meals, and taking care of my car all by myself. That built a lot of character. I would come home at night and not have anyone to share my crazy day with. I would go to church by myself and spend some holidays alone. If something broke, I had to fix it or find a plumber or electrician all by myself. It wasn’t always easy, but I learned how capable I really am. I know now that I don’t NEED my husband, I WANT to be with my husband. If something tragic happened and he was taken from my life it would be devastating, but it wouldn’t be the end of my world. I would be able to cope and be okay again on my own.
Relationships don’t usually fix problems, they create more problems. I learned so much from watching other couples and going through my own bad relationships to know that having someone in my life didn’t necessarily make it better. It really sucks to come home from work and expect to have someone to talk to, but they choose to ignore you or are too busy for you. It feels a lot worse to have someone who isn’t really there for you then to not have someone at all. At least I knew coming home that I only had my cats to talk to. If I came home thinking I had support but then found out that person really didn’t care, to me, that hurts more. Rejection is a little harder for me to take then loneliness.
I also have a lot of students who say that they miss having sex with someone on a regular basis. They don’t want to sleep around when they aren’t in a relationship and miss the affection. I agree, going without affection and sex for a long period of time can be painful. It is hard to not have someone there to give you a hug or get naked with. However, I go back to my counseling experience. I know lots of people in relationships that are also going without regular sex and affection is non-existent. If they are having sex it isn’t fulfilling, and I have a lot of people who complain that their partner only uses them for sex.
I guess my whole point is that a relationship may not give you what you want. You can find ways to take care of your own needs and fulfill yourself outside of a committed relationship. I think I am a lot closer to my friends and family because I had to rely on them more when I was single. It forced me to be more humble and ask people for help because I didn’t have a boyfriend or husband to give me a ride to work if my car broke down. I learned to explore my sexual self on my own and find what I really liked and didn’t like. I didn’t find someone at age 15 and marry them 7 years later and only had that one person for my whole life. I’ve gotten the chance to experience different kinds of relationships and realized that I can be resourceful when I’m not in a relationship.
You can learn to deal with change and stressful situations on your own. You will become more resourceful and independent. It can build confidence and self-assurance, which in the end attracts the kind of person who will be a great partner. We all like to be taken care of, but what I have found from counseling hundreds of people is that most people have no idea how to take care of themselves. I encourage you to learn how to take care of yourself. Then it will be like having a cherry on top of your sundae when you do find someone to be with who will help you take care of you.