Dear Wendy: “I Don’t Want To End Up Alone”

I’m a 21-year-old girl who can’t seem to find happiness. Don’t get me wrong; I love hanging out with my friends and having an active social life, but I just can’t seem to find someone who wants to be with me. I feel as if I’m worthless because any guy I’m remotely interested in would rather just be a friend, or wants to be with one of my friends. I have never had a boyfriend in my life, only close guy friends. I’m not the most physically fit, but I feel as though I have an amazing personality due to the fact that I have a big social network, and people usually love my company. I know it’s something that shouldn’t be rushed, but I’m getting to the point where giving up is my only option. I try to put myself out there but, but I feel as if because of my looks nobody wants to actually love me. My biggest fear is that I will end up alone for the rest of my life, and let down my family. I’m tired of being cupid, and only wish that somebody would realize I need a cupid too. — Lonely

First of all, it can not be overstated: being with someone does not equal happiness. If you think finding someone who “wants to be with you” is going to solve your problems, you’re in for a very rude awakening. Sweetie, you’ve got to make yourself happy. You need the foundation of self-love and self-acceptance before you can build a relationship with someone else. You can’t count on a relationship to save you from the loneliness of your own company or to pull you out of despair. Just read some of my past columns to see how lonely people can still be when they’re in relationships. Having a boyfriend can be fantastic, but it doesn’t guarantee a life without sadness and loneliness. Not by any means.

But, about that boyfriend. Why is it that you think your only options when it comes to finding him is to wait around or “give up”? Come on, now. That’s pitiful. You said yourself you’re not very physically fit and you worry your looks are turning potential suitors off, so why not work on your appearance? That’s an obvious third option you seem to be overlooking, If nothing else, turning some attention to your appearance will help boost your self-confidence while you continue “putting yourself out there.” A great personality is wonderful, but if you aren’t working on how you package that fantastic personality, your cutting your odds of attracting a mate in half and then in half again. And maybe in half one more time. I don’t think you need me to tell you we are a visual society, and looks play and huge part in dating and attraction.

Luckily, there’s a lot people can do to make themselves look better. They can exercise and eat well so their bodies are toned and fit; they can get their hair professionally styled and their eyebrows waxed and shaped; they can dress in stylish, figure-flattering clothes and put on a little makeup. If you aren’t doing any of these things and you’re complaining that your looks are working against you, you kind of have no one to blame but yourself. You certainly can’t say your only options are to continue waiting around or to give up. Finding someone who loves us for who we are on the inside is what everyone hopes for, but there’s nothing wrong with polishing your outside a little so people have more incentive to discover who you are. Attract ‘em with your outside so they can fall in love with the inside.

For awhile, my best friend and I were dating a pair of best friends, but she broke up with her boyfriend a month ago. Since then, her ex-boyfriend has come to me for support. I never got to have any sort of friendly relationship with him before because my best friend is a jealous type, but since their breakup, she’s grown more and more distant from me, and he and I have been talking more than ever. We both share long-time struggles with chronic depression, and the outlet we’ve found in each other has helped us both immensely. Unfortunately, my boyfriend has taken issue with this new-found friendship. His friend has offered to back off so that my boyfriend won’t get upset, but I really someone to talk to. My boyfriend has trouble talking about emotions, so he can’t talk to me the way his friend can. I am in no way interested in his friend sexually, and I can guarantee his friend is not interested in me either (since he is still very much in love with my best friend), but I know my boyfriend is upset over our closeness, and I don’t want to make him jealous. At the same time, I just don’t think I can afford to end the conversations I have with his best friend for both our sakes; I’m willing to talk to a therapist about my problems, but though he has said he does not need therapy, I have been told that before he talked to me he would be a bit of a shut-in and would rarely hang out, whereas now he likes having friends over even if it’s just to watch TV. I like being able to discuss my problems with a friend, but I know I cannot let it go on if my upsets my boyfriend. How can I handle this in a way that will not upset anyone involved? — Depressed and Unsure

Whoa, sister, you are playing with fire! First of all, do you not think it’s the teeniest bit dangerous that you’ve so quickly befriended your best friend’s ex a month after their breakup? Talk about mixed up loyalties! I get that he’s your boyfriend’s best friend so it’s not like you can avoid him — nor should you — but, come on. If your best friend’s so jealous you didn’t dare befriend her ex when they were together, why would you risk a friendship with him now that they’ve broken up? You don’t think that will piss her off? Add to that your boyfriend’s issue and possible jealousy with the budding friendship, and it just seems like a dumb move to get so close to this guy. And frankly, it’s a bit shady on his part that he’s taken such a huge interest in his ex’s best friend/ the girlfriend of his BFF. You say you can “guarantee” he’s not sexually interested in you, but you really can’t. Whether he’s still in love with his ex or not doesn’t really have anything to do with his sexual attraction to other women. Guys can love one chick and still want to screw every other girls. It’s called being alive. And did it ever occur to you that he might actually be using you to make his ex jealous? I don’t know the details of their breakup, but it’s not unheard of for lovers scorned to seek revenge and this may be his way of doing just that.

But, look, I’m not saying you don’t offer each other something real and meaningful. The talk therapy and emotional support you’ve given each other may very well be helping you both, but that doesn’t mean your relationship is appropriate or that it should continue. For your part, you need to learn to open up to your boyfriend more. If he has trouble “talking about emotions,” teach him to be better. Tell him what you need from him. If it’s to be a better listener, tell him that. If it’s to ask questions about how you’re feeling, tell him that. And if it’s to open up about how he feels, let him know. It isn’t fair to simply say you don’t get your needs met by him if you haven’t articulated to him what those needs are. And if he still can’t meet those needs, don’t rely on another man — his best friend, no less! — if he’s told you he’s uncomfortable with that. Find a girlfriend to talk to — or better yet, a therapist.

As for your boyfriend’s best friend, he needs to figure out his problems without you. There’s too much dramatic entanglement to avoid a messy ending. You’re risking not only your relationship with your boyfriend, but his relationship with his best friend and your relationship with your best friend. And for what? Because this guy won’t go to therapy? Because you think you can be some kind of savior for him? You can’t. Not when a friendship with you could potentially make so many other problems. So, back off. Let him figure out his issues without your help while you give your attention back to your boyfriend and find a good therapist to fill in the gaps.

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