There are two factors that can leave a sour taste in my mouth when it comes to relationships. First is consciously or unconsciously using someone to make yourself feel good. Second is the belief that you’re on this planet to get into a romantic relationship.
When anyone uses you to make themselves feel good, it hurts. But relationships are really just mirrors. If someone is using you, check with yourself. Did you get with this person because the ennui of not being spooned on a rainy night hurt? Did you get with this person because you just wanted to be wrapped in a blanket of love and then subsequently sexed to sleep? Did you get with this person because you want to escape a loneliness that has been around so long that it feels normal?
If the answer is yes, fair enough. I get that. But have you ever seen someone take someone else into their life in this way and it solves problems? Maybe for a while, but eventually, it turns to crap and causes more problems. Why? Because you technically were putting yourself first and you shacked up with someone who was guilty of the same thing.
You attract what you are.
Therefore, an easy way and possibly the only way I’ve found to avoid this is to look for someone you want to serve. That miraculously weeds out the charlatans and incompatible folk. It is frighteningly good and you start to observe life in a way that serves you. If you’ve never done it, try it for yourself. If you’ve done it, but you fell off, get back on it.
This leads perfectly into the next point. The notion that you are alive to match with someone and live happily ever after is something everybody in the world knows is a fairytale, but it doesn’t stop us from reaching for it.
Be real. Despite the heartache, you’re still searching for someone. You’re holding out hope. In this chronic case of protagonist syndrome, you’re waiting for the author to drop the muse, hero, goddess, saviour, paladin (?) to give you the love you’ve been waiting for.
But a serious inspection of this would indicate a gaping hole in this line of thinking. If you’re hoping someone comes along and the guy/girl you could be with is hoping someone comes along, because the entire world is under the delusion that they should be hoping someone comes along, then no one who can actually serve you will ever show up. You’ll bump into people like you who are focused on themselves and then depart, complaining that the other person was selfish.
What’s the solution here? Serve people, but you cannot do this in order to get a relationship. You simply and indiscriminately serve everyone, because that is why you’re on this planet.
When I was a teenager and still hadn’t had my first relationship, the frustration got to me. It got to the point that I made a plan on how I was going to get my first girlfriend and who I was going to be in order to get whoever this girl was because I had zero prospects — I struck out the year before several times.
Hilariously, my new plan didn’t even get off the ground and I felt really crummy for putting in all that effort and nothing went according to plan. I was Christian at the time and I said, forget my selfish wants. I’ll just do what God wants. If he wants a relationship for me, great. But that’s none of my business. I’m just here to serve him.
Wouldn’t you know it? Got into a relationship is less than a week later.
I’m not saying that you have to convert to Christianity. What I’m saying is that you need to take the attention off of yourself and onto serving others. Anytime I’ve done this in my life, I’ve never been left heartbroken. Things didn’t work out but there was no ill will, no hard feelings, no suffering. I considered myself lucky to have had the experience, not sad that I lost something. I didn’t lose anything. The respect is still intact.
For the relationships or maybeships where I didn’t do this, there’s still respect because I was focused on connecting with the person, but unfortunately that isn’t enough if you’re still focusing on edifying yourself.
Everyone wants love but hates the responsibility that comes with it. They think that if they get the love, then they’ll give their love in return. They’re happy to do it! But again, if the other person is thinking in the same way (and they are), there will always be a stalemate at best.
This is the solution, but it isn’t necessarily easy. If we weren’t loved enough growing up, we tend to try to find that love whether it be in the arms of someone else or fame or power or whatever. But like love, it’s pretty hard to be respected when you don’t serve people, when you don’t give love first.
While you are it, give some love to yourself. The self-deprecating thing can be funny if you’re just joking around, but if not, you’re just damaging yourself. And when you do that, you’ll start to think the most erroneous thought that no one wants the unique gifts and talents that you have to offer the world.