Sunday, 17 January 2016

Further thoughts about relationship struggles .. and tips from what I've learnt about myself and life

One thing that us guys never seem to talk about much is the kind of challenges men face in the dating and relationships department .. and guys can also find it difficult to look within as to what is causing their issues.

When you have certain personality characteristics, and are picky as to what you want, and the rules of relationships appear, on the surface, to be a certain way, it can be very tempting just to give up and resolve to be single and happy. But something still pulls at you that says 'Don't give up.' 

This is kind of my experience. When you're a guy that is introverted, still quite shy at times (although not so much now), and finds it difficult to take the initiative in anything that involves other people, that puts you at a big disadvantage when it comes to romance. Tradition has always said that men should make the first move - and, even though things are starting to change, it is definitely harder to find a relationship when you're wired this way if you're a man, than if you're a woman. 

I am more or less coming to terms with 'whatever will be, will be', and trusting that I'm in the right place at the right time, and will meet the right people at the right time. That doesn't mean to say I don't have my moments. I honestly wouldn't wish my struggles in relationships (or the lack of them) on anyone - but I am slowly coming to see that, perhaps, this is one of the ways in which my soul has chosen its life plan. 

I totally get that women find it difficult to help initiate relationships considering how things have been, and there are men that believe that it's 'manly' to take the initiative. I'm not for one moment suggesting that the tables should be turned and women should always take the initiative, but I honestly think that a lot of men would appreciate it if we got a little more help. It might also mean that women stand a bit more of a chance of finding a decent guy - because the 'bad' guys possibly find it a bit easier to approach a woman. It can be slightly soul destroying to send messages on dating sites and never get any replies - although you have to stay as detached to outcomes as possible. And I reckon there are probably more guys than you'd think that struggle with finding a suitable partner, and there is a sad lack of resources to help in these situations.

Here are some (hopefully) helpful pointers for people who struggle in romance.



1) It's not the situation itself, but your emotions about the situation that are the problem. 
No matter how much you meditate or pray, this situation isn't going to magically disappear. You can make lots and lots of effort in trying to solve this issue - and, years later, little seems to have changed. It absolutely sucks, but it is what it is. Sooner or later, you have to accept that you find relationships difficult, and it doesn't really help to try and over analyse your genetics or childhood issues. It doesn't make you a worse person. Being resentful and sad isn't going to solve anything - that said, even though it may sound paradoxical, it's perfectly ok to feel sad, so long as you can accept the sadness, without judgement. Acceptance of reality, whatever it is, is absolutely vital here. This also goes for women who find relationships challenging. Mentally labelling the situation 'bad' and saying 'why, why, why' or 'what did I do to deserve this' is not going to make things any better. Comparing yourself to others is a futile exercise, and can be dangerous. Fuck what society thinks. You are not a loser just because you struggle in relationships (or any other area of life).

2) Don't 'try to solve' your issues
Often, when we realise we have a struggle in a particular area, we can invest a lot of energy in trying to resolve the problem. Really, this is another form of resistance to reality. Our issues are not asking to be resolved or gotten rid of, they are asking to be accepted. This does not mean giving up and it doesn't mean you don't still have a preference of how you would like things to be - but working with, rather than against the things that trouble you, is vitally important. Having an attitude of 'okay, what is this thing trying to show me and what is the bigger picture' rather than 'this has got to change, it has fucked my life up' is kind of what I'm getting at.
Annemarie Postma, in her excellent book The Power of Acceptance, puts it like this: 'Acceptance is not wanting to change anything, but wanting what is, without the secret desire or hope that once you do this, a reward is waiting for you. Your reward is relaxing into your reality. Nothing more.'

3) It's (mostly) about you - treat the causes, not the symptoms
It would be naive to say that outside events are just 'all about you' - this is just another form of groundless New Age thinking. There are some people who are more at risk of losing their jobs, for example, which is totally out of their control. And the dating scene of today does put some people at a disadvantage. But again, this is something that just has to be accepted for what it is.
But it is far more fruitless to focus solely on external situations. Whilst, as I mentioned, it doesn't help to have a 'solve this problem' mentality - it is still important to try and get to the root cause of an issue - and also to face your fears. I have discovered a few fears that I didn't know about beforehand. Sometimes we think that our struggles are for a particular reason - but when we resolve to go deeper, we may discover that there are other factors that are holding us back. You may well discover that you have a lot of fear about intimacy and being in a relationship - I certainly have. This is a topic which I could do a whole blog post on, so I'm not going to go into too much detail here. What I really mean to say is that going within, asking yourself what are the real fears that are holding me back, and trusting that the answers will be revealed in their own time, is far better than solely blaming outside circumstances or other people.

4) It's not easy
In regard to relationships, I can often wonder how the majority of people seem to find it so easy compared to myself. Sometimes I wonder whether I was born with a faulty gene. One thing that people with long standing issues similar to myself will know, is that it's not easy to deal with them and that progress is slow. Being on a spiritual journey doesn't make the situation get easier either, although it probably does make it a little easier to deal with. You can meditate and pray and surrender as much as you like - it doesn't mean that your dating challenges get solved. Sensitive guys can get it programmed into them that women don't 'like' guys such as ourselves (and it's easy to have issues with women because of this) - and when you've felt unlovable your whole life, these thought patterns don't dissolve overnight, no matter how much other people might say how good you are. It can take years of self reflection or therapy to deal with them.

5) Self-love is important - as much as you are able
You can't, in most cases, magically wake up and love yourself when, like many you've more or less hated yourself for most or all of your life. Acceptance is the first step. I have had to accept that I find the dating and relationships scene more difficult than most, and that I'm on my own journey. No matter even what seemingly wise spiritual teachers might say, I might have more internal issues to deal with than the average person in order to meet the woman of my dreams. So, I've more or less had to get to the place of being happy in myself - and it is perhaps easier to do this in my situation, because many people look to relationships to make them happy or fulfil them, without facing their own internal sources of unhappiness. I don't want to be in an unhappy or certainly not an abusive relationship, and I am unlikely to be able to get the kind of relationship I would like, until I become more fulfilled in myself.
Self-love comes by realising who you are at the deepest level. You are not your struggles, your flows, your weaknesses. At your core essence, you are a beautiful human being who has come to experience life on earth for what it is - not always easy, but rewarding if you keep going. Even if you never meet your true 'soul mate' or whatever the term is, it is still possible to like yourself and eventually love yourself.

6) Know what you want and don't settle for less
It's very apparent that people will often settle for 'better than nothing' relationships because they don't want to be alone. Even if you haven't been in a relationship for a long time, it's important to still be clear on what you want and not settle for someone that does not meet those requirements. People say 'don't be too picky' but I think it's better to be picky than unclear. For example, I don't want children, so it's important for me to meet someone who feels the same way. Better to regret not having children than to regret having them, in my book. Spend some time on your own if you've had lots of unhappy relationships, and don't rush back into the dating scene after a breakup. Ultimately, a relationship won't be the source of your happiness, and the wrong relationship could end up making you feel miserable.

Have fun whilst you can and live your life .. 
7) Do the things you love 
Don't put your life on hold just because you haven't met 'The One'. Don't postpone plans just because you think it will mean there's less chance of meeting that special someone. Ultimately, it's important to put yourself first. If you want to travel and have the resources to do so, do it. Write that book. Spend time with your friends and get to truly appreciate the friends you do have. Meditate, go for walks, listen to music. Once you get to truly appreciate life, you will attract more people on your wavelength. You may meet that special someone, but don't make it your ultimate goal.


Hope this helps some people. As always, if you have any comments or insights, leave them below ..

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