Don't want to run away from love anymore
Hello, I'm a 19 year old female college student, and I've never had a real relationship with another man (I have only held a three week relationship with a boy two years younger than me). I've become very lonely, and I am very afraid of expressing this to others. I'm not sure what I'm afraid of. I think that I am afraid of rejection and getting my feelings hurt. I have low self-esteem and I know that most men are not attracted to pessimistic women. I know that I am hurting myself by avoiding intimate relationships, but I don't know what to do to change.
Recently I have gone to chat rooms and found that I feel confident and happy talking to the men there. I feel free, probably because I know that they cannot see me and judge me - all they know are the words I type about myself. It was in one of these chat rooms where I met Jonathan. I am infatuated with him. I think that I have developed a crush on this man because I know that our relationship can never be, thus avoiding a real relationship. This is what I do - I avoid love. I am very depressed because I feel that I can't be loved. I feel nervous and inferior around my college peers, and I know that if I don't change something soon, it will be very hard for me later on.
What can I do to get rid of this fear that makes me run away from relationships and love, even though they are what I want? Please help me!
Loneliness is one of the worst feelings in the world. In fact, sometimes I think it is the worst feeling in the world. Most other bad feelings are not as terrible as they could be when we have someone to share them with. I can't tell from what you've written whether you are just lonely for a relationship with a man or whether it is all relationships. It would be easier to help if I knew which one was the case. I also wish I knew more about your relationships with your family and whether going to college has taken you away from home.
Since I'm sort of in the dark about some pretty important things, I'm going to answer your question in two different ways. If you have had good relationships in the past with relatives, friends or whomever, then my advice is to think about the fact that all relationships are essentially the same, at least in some very important aspects. For a relationship to work, the two people in it have to have regard for and interest in each other. This is true for business relationships, committed long term romantic relationships, and all relationship in between. You seem to have an understanding of this because you are able to create online relationships. If you have a history to build on, then my advice is to stop "working on" or even thinking a lot about how a relationship will come about. Just go about doing what you do and one day you'll just find out that you're in one.
If you have no experience with any kind of close relationship "in person", then it's a lot more difficult. You seem to imply that you're creating a "fantasized you" or an "ideal you" when you go online. Are you? If you are, you won't be able to learn much from that experience. If, on the other hand, you are honestly yourself when you are online, you can learn a lot about how to build a relationship. After all, you'll only build an online relationship with someone in whom you have an interest and for whom you have regard, the two essentials of a relationship that I talked about in the last paragraph.
There's nothing wrong with building an online relationship per se, but you have to remain constantly aware that the other person may be dishonest; presenting themselves as someone they are not. I think, also, that you can only take a relationship so far online, (especially a romantic relationship), and eventually you've got to meet in person. Even if you were both being honest, you'll have to go through the whole process of getting to know each other just as you would have if you had met in some way other than the internet. Virtual reality is not reality. Beginning online, however, is a way of getting around the fear of rejection. Even if you're being honest, it isn't the real you who's invested. It's sort of a depersonalized "typed" you.
In the end, you've got to feel comfortable with yourself whether you're looking for a relationship online or in the real world. Would it be a good thing for someone to have you as a friend? Can you think of at least one person or hypothetical person who would? Don't look for all the reasons why it would not; just think about the whole package that is you. Include all the good things that you may think people aren't aware of and answer the question from that standpoint. You can only answer yes or no..no buts. If your answer is yes, and I'd be very surprised if it were not, then you'll be able to stop letting the fear of rejection paralyze you. If someone rejects you, then they just weren't the right person and you can remain open to the next possibility because you'll know that for someone, you'll be right.
In the meantime, if you're less concerned about finding and being found, you'll be risking less by talking to those around you in a casual way because you won't be on a mission. If you're not on a mission (not desperate) you can relax and, surprisingly, that will make you more approachable.
I hope this will be of help to you. Good Luck!
This question was answered by Jerry Button. Jerry is a psychotherapist, personal development trainer, workshop presenter and relationship coach practicing in Delray Beach, Florida. He believes that the key to quality of life lies in relationships. His approach to interpersonal and emotional problems is relational and psychodynamic. Jerry is experienced working with individuals, children and families and welcomes challenging opportunities.For more information visit: http://www.dynamicrelationships.net/