DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am an 18 year old British female. In July I met a 21 year old Canadian male whilst travelling. He took me on a couple dates and we went to Rome together for four days and nights. We slept together a lot and visited lots things and ate out each night. We continued talking until December when he came to an island in the Indian Ocean where I was working for 5 months and we saw each other a few times each week for a month. He also was keen to meet my parents and we went out with them.
I then left my job and went traveling Madagascar with him for 3 weeks. He flew off to continue his travels when I am now home in England (February). During our travels I asked if I would be his girlfriend if I lived in Canada he said he hadn’t thought about it. When a group of people asked us about our relationship he said it was complicated and casual. When I asked what we were he said a casual relationship. We don’t say we love each other. It’s almost as if he’s not bothered by me he just likes having a temporary girlfriend every now and then when traveling. This would he great if I just wanted that too. Trouble is I would love to be in a serious relationship with him.
We get on so well like best friends who’s are also attracted to each other and sleep with each other. We’ve been through so much together, why doesn’t he want me as a serious long term girlfriend?
DEAR SINGLE-SERVING RELATIONSHIP:You answered your own question there, SSR: you’re a travel buddy. You’re fun to travel with, you get along like a house on fire and the sex is excellent. The problem – at least in as much as there is a problem – is that you want two different things. You want a serious relationship with him and he doesn’t want one with you.
Now as much as this feels like he’s casting judgement on you as a person – you’re good enough to screw but not enough to date – it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like you or value you or care about you. Clearly he does. I also don’t think he’s just using you. I think it’s just that he’s not looking for a serious, committed relationship right now. He’s happy with keeping things casual because that’s what he wants and likely what works with his lifestyle right now.
I also suspect that the fact that you live in different countries has a lot to do with it. Yeah, long-distance relationships – even intercontinental ones – can work, but it’s certainly not for everybody… and it’s almost certainly not for him.
So here’s the crux of your problem: you want different things and it doesn’t seem that he’s going to change his mind any time soon. So it all comes down to you. You like this guy, you like traveling with him, you enjoy his company.Are you able to be satisfied with just having that sort of relationship with him without trying to parlay it into something committed and long-term? Are you able to enjoy it for what it is, or will you always be wanting more? If so, great – enjoy what you have when you have it and let it be what it is. If you can’t, if seeing him is only going to leave you with this all-consuming ache… well, it may be kinder to yourself to stop seeing him.
It’s worth remembering: not every love story is supposed to be an epic to last the ages. Sometimes they’re just a short story. Sometimes they’re a dirty limerick. This doesn’t make them any less important or meaningful or significant in your life – it just means that this what was right for a certain point in your life. And to be perfectly honest: what you have right now is a pretty awesome story, as short as it may be. While it may not feel like it right now, in the years to come, I strongly suspect that this is going to end up being a point in your life that you look back at with fondness and nostalgia.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’ve been single for about two years now and in all honesty -despite a great group of friends surrounding me- I can’t help but feel extremely lonely (and horny too, if I’m being totally honest).
I’m aware this isn’t helpful, how I shouldn’t validate myself based on the actions of others, rather my own validation should be enough. When it comes to just about every other facet of my life, I’ve got this down, I’m doing an MA at university and I have strong faith in my abilities to succeed there. In my looks too, I’ve lost a good amount of weight, going down from a 42 inch waist to a 34 inch- again, I’m incredibly proud of this and it does give me self-validation. The only problem is I can’t apply this self-validation when it comes to romance.
Originally, I was horrendous at talking to women, now I can talk to them, but it still feels like I have a mental timer counting down to when I have to abort and leave. I don’t know why this happens other than the fact my confidence seems shot -which may or may not be related to my ex making me feel like crap emotionally for the last act of our relationship-, so I’ve been reading around/trying to build confidence.
I’ve also been using the site OKcupid (I figured why not?), if face-to-face was an issue, why not talk to people online first? Getting to know them would obviously make face-to-face interactions easier. But nobody on there seems to hit the mark, I talk to some people (more of them ignore me but whatever) and eventually it just becomes boring chit-chat, as if both sides are just trying to drag to conversation along by it’s heels. There are girls on the site that I do think I’d have a bit more of a “spark” with -a lot more shared common interests and the such-, but they live in other cities and I don’t drive, I also don’t have much time for traveling and having already been in a long-distance relationship once prior I know that’s not what I’m wanting this time. At the same time, my female housemate who joined at the same time has had no end of messages, and is currently on her phone non-stop talking to a guy she likes online, I’m happy for her, but her constant messaging on there just acts to constantly remind me how awful my experience has been on there so far.
What I’m saying is, I feel like I can’t get off square one, I really want to meet the right person, but as it stands right now I don’t have a clue as to how to find them, and that sucks major balls. It hurts, it’s frustrating, I sound like a spoiled brat with all this “I want, I want!”, but I just can’t seem to switch this feeling off and any advice whatsoever from you at this point would help I think, I’m stuck.
Stuck in First Gear
DEAR STUCK IN FIRST GEAR: First things first, SiFG: comparing your results to other people’s is a recipe for misery. As I’m always fond of saying: you’re comparing their highlight reel to your raw, unedited footage. I know it’s hard when you watch other people have success with the things you struggle with, but that’s their journey, not yours. You’re living a different life and dealing with different issues. There’s any number of things that influence somebody else’s (apparent) success rate that don’t apply to you and, to be frank, most of the time you’re not seeing the things that they struggle (or struggled) with to get there.
So be happy for your housemate, but don’t use her for a basis for comparison.
Now as for what’s going on: I think your biggest issue is that you’ve improved your body but not your spirit. One of the things that I see happen a lot is that people fix the external under the assumption that this will solve all their problems. But while a better looking exterior can make you feel better, if you haven’t addressed any issues from your core, all you’ve done is given yourself a bright shiny shell to hide in. And in your case, your core is a lack of confidence – you don’t feel like you deserve happiness or that you’re worthy of someone. And while there’re many ways to build your confidence, something tells me that there’s one thing you haven’t done yet: you haven’t taken a hit yet.
Back when I was studying martial arts regularly, one of the things I struggled with was sparring. I was great at doing the kattas and perfecting my form and even things like breaking blocks… but sparring was my nemesis. I was permanently on the defensive, always backing away, passing up on openings to strike… because I was afraid of getting hit. But unless I was willing to risk taking a hit, I was never going to get any strikes in myself. Just as importantly, I’d never actually learn how to take a hit without actually getting hit. So I had to force myself to get in there, risk getting clocked and take my chances. Yeah, I got smacked around… but I learned how to handle it. I learned how to roll with the punches (literally), block the worst and get my own strikes in. That’s what helped build my confidence: facing my fears (getting hit) and surviving them.
You, I suspect, are so afraid of rejection and being hurt (which is totally understandable, especially after your ex abused you emotionally) that you try to avoid taking the hit. This is part of why conversations in online dating tend to dwindle off – nobody’s willing to make the first move and try to take things to the next level. You need to invite getting rejected by putting yourself out there and making a move, even if it doesn’t seem 100% perfect. You have to take some risks and approach people and ask them out. You’ll never find out if they’re right for you without taking those chances. Yes, you’re going to get hurt – rejection hurts! – but not only is it something that you’ll survive, but you’ll realize it’s not as bad as you think it is. You’ll learn how to handle it. And learning how to handle it means you’ll be that much more confident in approaching and asking others out… and that will be what makes it easier to find the people who’re right for you.
You’re most of the way there man. Just push past that initial fear of taking the hit and you’ll start having more success.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com)