You really would like to be in relationship and feel sad and lonely without one. But getting into one – or staying in one – is difficult for you. When you look for explanations, you can see your lack of follow through, or your avoidance of others when they try to connect. You can see that your desires and your actions don’t seem to line up, but you don’t understand why. So, you get confused and frustrated with yourself.
Though your harsh self-criticism clearly expresses your frustration, it won’t help you get to the bottom of your dilemma. If you attend to what’s going on inside before your self-judgment kicks in, you may gain some insight that tells a different story.
You might find that you fear rejection. If you portray yourself authentically to someone else, then you leave yourself open to being rejected. So, rather than allow yourself to be that vulnerable, you might automatically distance yourself by physically avoiding the person or keeping an emotional distance. The message you are sending is that you don’t care, which keeps you safe from rejection; but perpetuates your loneliness.
You might also fear hurting the other person. People who feel badly about themselves or their ability to communicate often withdraw when someone else is upset or has some kind of emotional need. They fear that they might say the wrong thing, causing the other person further pain, and possibly prompting that person to leave them.
Another common issue is the belief that personal needs in relationships are a like a zero-sum game. This implies that only one person’s needs can be met at a time. If you get what you want or need, then your partner will be upset. But if you meet your partner’s needs, then you must give up on yourself. With this way of thinking, there is no good outcome. In fact, healthy relationships involve partners supporting each other’s wants and needs – and talking through the situation to find a mutually agreeable solution when those clash.
Finally, a little self-exploration may lead you to the realization that you are not ready for commitment, even though you truly do eventually want a committed relationship. Sometimes people legitimately need time to focus on personal growth. If you realize that this is what’s going on for you, then being straightforward with the other person is the right thing to do. They can then decide whether they can truly accept your limited emotional availability
When you are compassionately self-aware and willing to communicate with the other person, you’ll move closer to becoming the person you want to be and building the relationships you desire.