Running from love


Running from love


your avatar   Danny, 18-year-old man

I am a Chinese high school student who recently got admitted into UCLA, majoring in Electrical Engineering. I am a super rational man and always think things through before carrying them out. I have been focusing on my career, which is my studies and extracurricular activities, and I do think that I am the type of person who tends to focus more on a career than a personal life.

I think my mother is a misogynist, and she always poured her radical thoughts about women on me for as long as I can remember. From her I get pure materialism - the idea that a powerful man can get any woman he wants, and I think this is one of the reasons why I am a career type. My parent's marriage is not going so smooth, but at least they have the same values and no affairs.

I have serious problem with long-term relationships; that is, I always run away from relationships at the very beginning. Whenever my relationship starts, I can always talk myself out of it. Since the woman I know about the most is my mother, I'd like to use her as an example to demonstrate my first reason to talk myself out of it:

She is an educated professional and used to be one of those super cool moms who gave their children a lot of space. However, when she reached 45, she became very suspicious, irritable, and worst of all, unreasonable. When we disagree with each other, she always tries to "win", even using ridiculous reasons. And whenever I do something wrong, she knows exactly how to push my buttons. She won't even hear me out first. My biggest fear is that a woman so cool like my mother, who majored in Philosophy in college, can become what she is today. What will average women who perhaps failed philosophy in high school be when they reach 45? (I love my mother and everything, but...). As we all know, long-term relationships are the path to marriage, but having seen what marriage provides, I don't think that a manipulative and unreasonable wife is what I want.

And here comes my personal experience with peers. There was this girl I really liked back in middle school, and fortunately, the feeling was mutual. We had a very long time of "good friends", but we both knew what was going on. However, right after we made it official, she became very clingy, and always needed me to apologize for any little thing. At first it was fine, but as time went by, I became tired and a bit angry with this behavior and eventually backed out. I broke her heart and felt really bad about that, but to my surprise, I was kind of "un-hurtable" in my last two bad break-ups, which really bugs me. I want to feel the pain but I can't, since I can always convince myself that there will be other girls.

And now I met this girl who is really fun, warm and optimistic, and I feel great just to be around her. But I can't make my move because there is always this voice in my head saying that even if by some miracle she agrees to go out with me, I will still run away because the word "forever" really terrifies me. I like this girl and everything, but forever? What if she isn't the one (and judging by my experience, that is highly likely)? I will leave her again and break her heart. I can't bond deeply with a girl because I am afraid that everything I say will eventually be used against me. And what if I hypothetically maintained a relationship with her for years and then found out that she is not the one and break up with her? She will be devastated. I don't think it is fair for her or any girl to lose years of their youth on me because of my personal emotional flaw.

The reasons I mentioned above always work for me as ways to talk myself out of a relationship. I am pretty sure that unlike others on this website who can't commit because they are afraid of being hurt, I can't commit because I fear hurting others who genuinely care for me, and seeing what "forever" provides, I am even more terrified. However, some of my best buddies do have long-term relationships, some even last for years, and they have experienced way more terrible and catastrophic marriages. I really envy them.

I am not fond of the bachelor lifestyle and I do long for love. Sometimes I watch romantic films wondering how the hell they do it. Does "happily ever after" or even "warmly ever after with occasional friction" really exist? If the answer is yes, how the heck am I supposed to find it?

I am looking for help of any kind.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Danny,

I think the main problem is not in your relationships with girls, but in what you expect from a relationship. You have fallen for the "romantic myth," which is that there is a perfect partner out there for each person, and that if only you find her, things will go without problems forever. And so, if you should commit yourself to a girl and some problems arise, then you will eventually break off with her and hurt her, which is something you don't want to do.

In fact, this is a myth, and causes much unhappiness. There are ALWAYS problems between any two people. And of course there are problems with having no one, being alone. So, the first step for long term contentment is to accept imperfection. It is life.

I recommend that you read two books: "The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work" by John Gottman, and "Love is Never Enough" by Aaron Beck.

You will find all the answers you need in these books.

Have a good life,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


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