I am 35 and think of myself as chronically single. I’ve never had a relationship that lasted more than about three months. I have a job I really like and lots of friends so my life isn’t all moping and fretting about getting a date, but I do worry that I’m doing something wrong. My last boyfriend broke up with me after nearly four months saying I was ‘too needy’. He went for days at a time without answering texts or communicating with me. I found this hard as I had abandonment issues as a child, but even though I told him this, he didn’t change. Is wanting to hear from him more than every three days really ‘too needy’? I am beginning to think I am destined to be alone all my life. – Jane, Dulwich
First things first: Meeting a partner you love and who loves you can and does happen at any age so time is not running out, it is just passing. Secondly, I think it is important to point out that you are repeatedly single not chronically. Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, I think it is way too early to think of yourself as what used to termed ‘on the shelf’.
It doesn’t sound to me as if you being single again now is something that is particularly (and certainly not entirely) your fault. So I don’t think there is any reason to think this state of affairs is permanent. That said, abandonment issues in your childhood can lead to insecurity, and perhaps it would be a good time for you to address these now. If you look around for examples of people with happy, lasting partnerships, you will notice that maturity (of character not years) is a major feature.
You asked your last boyfriend to be in touch more frequently than he might normally because of these issues. This sounds a little like deflection, as if you were asking him to compensate for something that actually you may need to sort out yourself. You don’t seem to have any trouble attracting people or starting relationships, just maintaining the relationships with them. This might be something to do with your trying to hang on to them due to your past experiences of losing people. If you can learn to shift focus and be more secure in yourself, and perhaps do some work with a therapist on addressing those abandonment issues from your past, there’s every reason to think you could be in a lasting, loving relationship.
Some quick ideas on how you could start to do this are:
- try to enter your next relationship with a truly open heart and mind your eyes fixed on the future not on his or your current behaviour
- don’t set him rules to make things feel all right, work on how to build confidence in yourself and trust in others
- build your own confidence and self esteem by thinking of the positive qualities you have and achievements, etc
- expand your horizons
- take yourself out of your comfort zone in as many ways, small and large, as you can all the time
- don’t even think about writing yourself off