New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.
After that relationship ended, I was single for four years. Then I met someone online. We talked and “dated” online for about a year, then decided to meet. He flew out to my state and we spent a week together. I only saw him once after he returned home when I drove to his state and stayed a couple days. Unfortunately, he was not the person I thought he was, and I ended the relationship. I’ve been alone ever since.
I’m self-conscious about my weight, how I look, scars I got from surgery, and the fact that I’m disabled. People judge me when I tell them I can’t work, and they pity me when I tell them I’m a chronic pain sufferer, neither of which I can stand.
Anyway, in a couple weeks I’ll be going to an event in another state, and it will be attended by people from all over the country. I was thinking that maybe I could (try to) meet someone there — not necessarily for a long-term relationship, but maybe just some temporary companionship. The trouble is I tend not to respect people who pick up a guy (or girl) in a bar, take them home for sex, then never see them again. I don’t sleep around, and I don’t want to be someone who does.
I’ve never had casual sex. I can’t do it. My two boyfriends are the only sexual partners I’ve ever had. I have to trust someone in order to be with him. I’m terrified of diseases even though I use condoms (I don’t want to make out with someone and end up with cold sores for the rest of my life. Gross). I’m scared someone will hurt or kill me or make a blackmail video. But I’m in constant pain, and not just physically but emotionally too.
I’m miserable to my core. I’m so lonely, and I want to feel good for a little while. For goodness’ sake I haven’t had sex in four years, one month, and one day! I would like to have an orgasm some time this year. But mostly I want someone to want me.
I don’t know if that’ll even happen. I thought I was good at hiding my depression until someone said my pain is written all over my face, which made me even more self-conscious. I can stuff all 192 lbs. of me into some Spanx and a dress, but I can’t make myself attractive, and I don’t know if someone will be interested in me. And if by some miracle that happens, I don’t know if I could go through with it, and if I did, I’m not sure how I would live with myself afterward.
I don’t drink alcohol. I never had “wild college years” and I never could understand how some people could be so promiscuous. But I’m not really talking about becoming promiscuity. I just want to be with someone who wants to be with me, even if it’s for a little while. And I’m hoping that, since it’s in another state, I might never have to see the person again so I don’t have to feel so guilty, or have the people from my home state judge me.
Am I being too uptight? Too judgmental? Is this something I should do? Should I “let loose” and be with someone at the convention if I get the opportunity? Or should I stick to my morals and resign myself to spinsterhood and eventual frigidity? — Miserable to My Core
Forget about what you look like for a minute — the scars, the 192 lbs. (which isn’t really that much, anyway. I’ve known plenty of women who weigh more than that and are gorgeous), and whatever else you think makes you unattractive. Forget what you look like and think about what you SOUND like. In nine paragraphs you go on and on and on about what a miserable person you are and how much contempt you have for anyone who doesn’t share your moral superiority, which I can assure you does little to endear you to potential friends (platonic or otherwise).
But even if you had friends — even if you hooked up with someone at your convention to momentarily ease the crippling loneliness you live beneath, you’d never stop feeling lonely. Not even for the minutes you felt desired. Because no relationship — sexual, romantic, platonic — will relieve your loneliness, even momentarily, because it’s not so much a lack of company making you feel lonely, it’s your own company. Until you learn to appreciate your own presence, you’ll never feel comfortable, let alone happy, with anyone else.
There are a few things you can do to feel better about yourself. First, get yourself to therapy (duh). You have some deep, deep issues that I can’t begin to help you with. You need the support of a qualified, compassionate therapist who can guide you to a healing place. I cannot underscore this need enough. If you’ve tried therapy and didn’t like it, try it with someone else. If you’re in therapy currently, consider trying it with someone else.
Second, make use of your time. You don’t work and that seems to cause you great anxiety and shame. So, do something that will make you feel of benefit to society. Volunteer somewhere! Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to relieve your pain. Why mope about feeling totally useless when you could be visiting with seniors in a nursing home or playing with attention-deprived animals in a shelter or reading to low-income children in a neighborhood library or cooking meals in a soup kitchen or doing something — anything — for someone other than yourself?
Third, smile more. It sounds corny, but it’s true: the more you smile, the happier you’ll feel. You’ll also look a thousand times better. Start walking around with a smile on your face and notice how people respond to you differently.
Four, good God, get a vibrator already. Why have you waited four years to have an orgasm? No wonder you’re so unhappy.
Five, meet more people in your own town. Quit long distance internet dating or fantasizing about hooking up with some random person at a convention. Neither of those things will bring any lasting fulfillment, and I’d say that they carry the risk of bringing you even more unhappiness if they don’t live up to your expectations — and they won’t since what you expect is to be relieved of your loneliness. But friends who can become a real part of your day-to-day life have the potential of making a difference — of creating a web of social support that it doesn’t seem you have.
You can’t escape yourself. No relationship is going to pull you away from your own company. The only way you’ll ever be happy is when you learn to be happy with who you are. And there’s no advice I — or anyone — can give you that will change that or give you a shortcut to personal fulfillment. You’ve got to say, “Enough! Enough with being miserable! I’m tired of just existing. I want to live!” And then you have to roll up your sleeves and get to work, because living isn’t always easy. Creating a happy life takes effort, particularly if you have a mental illness, clinical depression, or physical limitations. But you CAN do it. You just have to be willing to ask for help, face some of your demons, step outside your comfort zone, and risk rejection. There’s no shortcut. You can’t skip any of the steps. And while there’s no guarantee that if you do A, B, C, and D, you’ll find happiness, I can guarantee that if you don’t — if continue doing nothing, you won’t find happiness. You’ll just keep on being miserable. And at 32, you’ve likely got a lot of life left to stay miserable forever.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at email@example.com.