Overcoming Singleness Anxiety

Throughout our entire childhood and upbringing, we were taught that we are supposed to look for love and marriage. We were taught that we should get married. We were taught that love and/or marriage would make us happy… or even that love and marriage are needed in order to be happy. This is ingrained in us by our parents, our teachers, the movies, TV shows and everything else most of us were exposed to. This is normal. And at first glance, this doesn’t seem like a problem at all. So what’s the issue?

The big issue with our pursuit of love… it makes us unhappy

If we believe that we need to find love and get married in order to be happy, this naturally makes us believe our life isn’t good enough the way it is. This subtle and often unconscious belief that “life isn’t good enough the way it is” creates a sense of lack, a sense of incompleteness, or a sense that something is missing from our lives. For some of us, this sense is very subtle and can only be noticed through continuous efforting to find someone to love us… but for others, this sense of lack is very apparent and strong.

In addition, once we believe that love and marriage are required to be happy, we naturally believe that we can’t be as happy if we don’t find love and get married. This is automatic. If we believe it is “best” to get married, of course we are going to believe that it would be “worse” if we never get married. Once we believe that it would be “bad” if we never find love and get married, we being to fear that outcome and experience stress and anxiety about it.

As long as you believe that love and marriage can make you happy, you will have this sense of lack and fear that you won’t find love

So, if you would like to feel complete now, if you would like to feel relaxed and anxiety-free now, there is a simple way to do it. Discover that another human being does not have the ability to fulfill you. If you can discover that love and marriage can’t make you happy, then you will no longer feel like you are missing something in your life, and you will no longer fear not getting love and marriage.

Let’s examine whether love and marriage can fulfill you:

All of our unwanted emotions are created by thoughts. To believe that someone else can make you happy, means that you believe another person can eliminate all of your negative thoughts. Of course, we don’t recognize this is what we are believing, but nonetheless, that is the underlying assumption. The only way we can be happy is if we don’t have thoughts that make us unhappy. If we believe that love and marriage will make us happy, we are inherently believing that love and marriage will somehow eliminate all of the different types of negative thoughts that currently create our unwanted emotions and prevent us from feeling fulfilled. But is that true? Let’s look at 7 different types of thoughts that love and marriage can’t eliminate.

1) Do you have any insecurities or judgments about yourself?

Are there parts of your personality or your appearance that you don’t like? Do these thoughts sometimes make you feel ashamed, embarrassed, lacking, or worried about others’ opinions? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

2) Do you have aspects of your life that you think aren’t good enough?

Maybe your job isn’t good enough, your apartment isn’t good enough, or you don’t make enough money. These thoughts make you feeling lacking and insufficient, and create anxiety. Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

3) Are there people in your life which you think aren’t good enough?

Do you judge people that you come across? Do you sometimes get angry at co-workers? Do you have issues with your parents? Do you think your friends don’t always do the right thing? Do you think people should treat you better? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

4) Do you worry about what other people think?

Do you worry about whether you have your parents’ approval? Do you worry about whether your boss will like your work? Do you worry about what others will think of your appearance and clothes? Do you sometimes not do what you want because you are afraid of what other people will think (i.e. dancing etc)? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

5) Do you sometimes feel guilty or ashamed about your actions?

Do you sometimes do things you don’t want to do? Are you sometimes unable to do things that you really want to do? Do you still have habits that you think are bad, but can’t stop them? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

6) Do you sometimes feel restless and bored?

When you are just sitting or lying down and your mind is constantly thinking, this creates the feeling of being restless or bored. Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

7) Do outcomes and events sometimes occur that you don’t like?

When you have negative thoughts about a particular outcome or event, doesn’t this sometimes create sadness or anger? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

Relationships can eliminate a few negative thoughts, but they will almost certainly be replaced by new ones

Getting into a relationship will likely help you get rid of the thought “my life isn’t good enough because I don’t have a partner or someone to love me”. This will likely eliminate part of the sense of lack and shame that you had. But, it is likely to be replaced with new thoughts about how “my relationship isn’t good enough”, “they don’t love me enough”, “they don’t appreciate me enough”, “our relationship isn’t as good as their relationship” and these types of thoughts which will create more lack and shame

If you get married, you will almost certainly lose the thought “it would be if I never get married or find someone to love me”. Since this thought created some anxiety, whatever anxiety it created will likely be gone. That will feel really nice in the beginning. However, this thought is likely to be replaced with a new worries about whether they will stop loving you, worries about whether they still love you, worries about what you need to do to keep their love, worries about whether they will cheat on you, and possibly others. These new thoughts will continue to create anxiety and worry. It makes us fear that we will lose their love and constantly seek reassurances that they love us.

If you are seeking love and marriage to make yourself feel happy and whole, you are looking for someone to use.

Let me ask you a question: Why do you want to find love and marriage? Really, take a moment to answer that. If you knew with absolute certainty that getting someone to love  you and marry you would make you unhappy, worried, and angry all the time… would you still want to pursue love and marriage? Almost certainly not. Why would you pursue love and marriage if you knew it would make you unhappy?

You likely wouldn’t. If you would want to pursue love and marriage when you believe it would make you happy… and you wouldn’t want to pursue love and marriage if you believe it would make you unhappy… then it makes it pretty clear that you are just pursuing love and marriage because you believe it will make you happy. In other words, you don’t want love and marriage… you want to be happy, and you just happen to think that love and marriage will make you happy. Love and marriage is the means, not the goal.

But, here is the reason why I bring that up. If we are seeking love and approval to be happy, then we are actually seeking someone to make us happy. In other words, if we are seeking someone to make us happy, we are actually looking for someone who we can use to make us happy. This is why we tend to think that receiving love means having someone to fill our needs (or wants).

If we are using someone to make us happy, then we aren’t really loving them. We just love how they help make us feel. That’s fine, there’s no problem with that. It’s just not based on love. If we pursue someone to make us happy, then we will “love” them when they seem to make us feel good and we will hate them when they seem to make us feel “bad”. This type of “love” is completely conditional. The bottom line is that if we don’t truly love someone, then we don’t feel this love or the fulfillment that comes with truly loving… unconditionally and selflessly. By pursuing love to make us happy, we are setting ourselves up for a relationship that’s not actually based on love.

When you discover that love and marriage can’t make you happy, you can be much happier right now

When we believe that love and marriage will make us happy, it creates a whole lot of suffering. And this suffering absolutely doesn’t end when we find someone to love us.

But, if you are able to see that love and approval can’t make you happy and fulfilled, then you can stop feeling like something is missing from your life and stop worrying about whether you will ever get it. Then, you will be left feeling much more free and happy right now.

If you want to feel whole and happy, you need to identify and address the thoughts that make you feel this way

Since other people cannot change all of our negative thoughts to positive ones, we need to question the truth of our negative thoughts if we want to be happy. If we don’t believe the thoughts which make us feel unappreciated, insufficient, or unlovable, then we will be completely happy regardless of whether or not others love us.

In addition, once you are already happy, then you can enter into a relationship without wanting anything from the other person. When you are fulfilled, you can enter into a relationship without an ulterior motive… without using them. Then, any relationship will be much more enjoyable. It will be based on love.

Therefore, somewhat paradoxically, discovering that a relationship can’t make you happy will make it much more likely that you will end up in a happy relationship.

Now, I would like you to ask yourself a few questions:

Can love and marriage eliminate all the thoughts that create my unwanted emotions and make me feeling lacking and unfulfilled?

If love and marriage can’t eliminate all (or even many) of the thoughts that make me unhappy, is it true that love and marriage can give me the happiness, wholeness, and fulfillment I want?

If love and marriage don’t have the ability to fulfill me (or anyone else), then is it true that my life isn’t “good enough” just because I don’t have love and marriage?

If love and marriage can’t fulfill me, am I sure that I would be happiest if I got married?

If all of my unwanted emotions and sense of lack are created by thoughts, then is it true that I need to get love and marriage in order to be happy?

Is it possible for me to feel completely whole, happy, and fulfilled without getting married (by addressing my thoughts)?

If I can be fulfilled without getting love and marriage (by addressing my thoughts)… and love and marriage don’t have the ability to fulfill me… then can I admit that it wouldn’t necessarily be “bad” for my life or my happiness if I never get love and marriage?

via How To Stop Feeling Lacking and Worried About Being Single.

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Top 10 Reasons to Date a Cougar

 

When it comes to dating these days, more and more younger men are going for the older women… or, in modern words: the cougars.   I’m happily married myself, but back in my younger days I fancied myself a bit of a Cougar hunter. Out of this youthful pursuit was born this comprehensive list of reasons to pursue the dangerous-but-rewarding species Cougar Americanis.

10. Are They Experienced? … Is a cowgirl reversible? What’s there not to like about a woman who knows how things work? I mean this in reference to the bedroom and to life. The older ladies have earned their stripes as the wise ones. They know everything. By everything, I don’t just mean that they’re women so they [think] they know everything… I mean what I mean. Really. Think about it… they’re sharp.

9. Cougars Aren’t Too Tech Savvy … As a preliminary disclaimer, I would like to note that I do not mean this in a negative way. Why would this be on my list if this was a negative thing? Negativity is for people named Nancy who spell it with an “ie” instead of a “y.” This technological brain-malfunction is a plus for you, buddy. How many girlfriends have you had that took the liberty of going through your text messages to see if Julia from the office sent you any texts between now and the last hour she checked? If you’re with an older woman, chances are she’s not even sure how to get to the inbox on your phone, let alone how to send a text message. Alas, hoorah!

8 Patience is a Virtue … Actually, it’s a noun, but my lousy sense of humor and B-S aside, patience is a virtue. Younger girls are impatient. Seriously. They can take forever applying lip gloss, causing you to be late for a movie, but heaven forbid you need to finish-up on the pot, the whole world comes to an end. I feel as though an older woman would be far more understanding in pressing times like those. Bowel movements happen; older women get this.

7. Cougars Have a Job or a Monthly Pension … It’s not common, but it’s also not rare to let one of those “give me those, buy me that, pay for me” girls slip between the cracks and surface into your life. Now, I’m not a man of particularly high income, and I certainly never minded indulging the girl I was dating in a few little or big luxuries every now-and-then. But lets be reasonable, here. I will never put myself in the position to pay for someone’s cable bill ever again. That’s why, I’ve realized, these older women are not only patient, experienced and beautiful creatures, but they’re also independent. I like that.

6. Cougars are Cookers … Going out gets old (… no pun intended). Staying in and cooking can sometimes be just as fun (if not more fun) than dining out. The only problem is that many girls I’ve dated don’t even own a cookbook. The biggest victory in their kitchen conquest was either pancakes or instant mac and cheese. I won’t lie; I love both of those things, however, imagine a woman with a recipe book who has the ability to make things with no additives, and the experience of various Thanksgiving dinners under her belt. Now that’s what I call a seasoned veteran (…again, no pun intended).

5. Cougars Still Think Twitter Is Something Birds Do at Sundown … For the same reasons you don’t like your girlfriend going through your phone, you also don’t want her going through your computer. To a cougar, the internet is a strange and unexplored world… a world that most prefer not to venture into in this lifetime. I’m okay with that. Have you ever Googled yourself? I have. Traces of my former sleazebag-self are accessible to everybody and the general public can (if they so choose) bask in the embarrassment of what I like to refer to as my “slutting-around MySpace” days. Shameful.

4. Cougars Have Wheels … Now, I’m not saying that I’m the type of guy who’d like to have his girlfriend or wife drive him around all the time. I don’t; in fact I hate it. Girl drivers are frightening and plain bad. That’s all I can say about that. On the other hand, it’s always a plus when the older lady you’re seeing insists on driving her full-size minivan to the ballgame you’ve invited her to. Her selling-point: “I can fit everything you want to bring into the back!” What she really means is “I can fit all the crap you want to bring with you [that is completely unnecessary and embarrassing] into the back of my mom-mobile.” I don’t mind this. Once I thought minivans: lame. Now I think: minivans: luxury.

3. Cougars Know What They Like … I think most men are in agreement when it comes to how annoying it is when your girlfriend doesn’t know what she wants. She doesn’t know what she wants to eat, wear or do. I’ve lost many hours of my life going back and forth to the “where-should-we-eat, well-you-pick, no-you-pick” bicker. Cougars eliminate this problem. They’ve lived enough of life to know what they like to eat, where they like to eat, what they want to wear, and what they like to go. This is great news.

2. A Cougar Won’t Drag You to See ‘Twilight’ – If I need to explain the glory of this point further, then forget everything you’ve read thus far—you deserve to be with a younger woman.

1. Cougars Cop The Senior Citizen Discount Y’All! … I am not judgmental, and for some, the older: the better. Therefore, I felt the need to see light from the other side of the spectrum. So, seniors… they get movie ticket discounts, restaurant discounts, and other various kinds of discounts that I’m not even aware of because, well, I’m not there yet. But the fact of the matter is: everybody likes a discount. Rock on!

via Date a Cougar – Top 10 Reasons to Cozy Up With a Cougar | Goodbye Dysfunction!.

I Do?

I Do?

A Buddhist struggles with impermanence vs. marriage

BY: Susan Piver

This past summer, I went to a meditation center to practice for several weeks together with my community. At dinner on the first evening, I struck up a conversation with the guy sitting next to me. He looked to be in his early sixties and I found out he was a longtime student of Buddhism. We told each other a bit about ourselves, including what we did for work, whether we were married, had a family, etc. He was wondering about moving in with his new girlfriend—much younger than he, more enthusiastic about living together than he—hoping, he feared, for what we all eventually discover is impossible—to stabilize a relationship. He was also concerned about giving up his solitude and really didn’t know how long he would want the relationship to continue. Given all this, should they live together, could this work? he asked.

I was totally ready with “I have no idea,” when a voice popped into my head and said, “Of course it can work. As long as you don’t expect it to make you happy.” So I reported these words and we had a moment. We were kind of embarrassed—yes, Buddhists are supposed to know that craving creates suffering, but I guess we still secretly hoped that a relationship could make us happy, if only we could get the circumstances just right.

My new pal and I talked about this, about how relationships can blind us to the dharma quicker than anything. As we said goodbye and I watched him walk away, I wanted to call out, “Don’t be afraid to tell yourself the truth about relationships.” And then I wondered, well, what is the truth, exactly? Do I really believe they’re not supposed to make you happy? And when we long for a lasting relationship (as most people I know do), what happens to the second noble truth? Why do we forget that craving creates suffering?

When my husband and I first started to talk about getting married, we covered lots of topics: who would marry us, who to invite, what to wear, whether or not we would be able to convince our favorite Cajun band to learn “Hava Nagila.” (We were. Shout out to Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys.)

Then the most important question came up: what would we say to each other to mark this commitment? What were our intentions and which words expressed them best?

We spent time reading various liturgies, Buddhist and otherwise, and talking about what we liked and disliked about other people’s weddings. As we read the words that other couples had spoken to each other, I became increasingly uncomfortable. Most of them ended with “I do.” I do…what? 

Marriage is a commitment to share love, have sex, and try to stay together with this one person, right? Well maybe, but I couldn’t promise to do these things. I knew I couldn’t say, “I do” to love—feelings change, and keep changing. I also knew I couldn’t say yes to wanting to have sex with him for the rest of my life—desire is unpredictable. And ask him to commit to me? Which me? I couldn’t commit to remaining the same me. So if you can’t say yes to love, sex, or remaining the one each fell in love with, what are you agreeing to when you commit to a relationship?

It’s just now, eight years later, that I’m finding out what, apparently, I said yes to. 

I said yes to the unfolding, impenetrable arc of uncertainty. I guess I thought that finding love was an endpoint, that some kind of search was over and I would find home. We would leap over the threshold together into whatever we imagined our ideal cottage to be. But really we stepped through a crazy looking glass. No matter how hard we tried, how madly in love we were, or how skillfully we planned our life together, there was complete uncertainty about what the connection would feel like from day to day. I could give all the love I had (with great joy) and get back a blank stare. I could wake up as my crankiest, most sullen and narcissistic self, roll over, and greet the face of unconditional acceptance. Or not. It’s like the weather: you can try to read the signs and guess about atmospheric conditions, but really there’s no telling.

As far as I can see, the relationship never stabilizes, ever. In which case you can’t actually promise each other anything. This is how it works. I have no idea why. But like when I’m listening to a meteorologist explain why it’s going to rain, I think, “Who cares why? I’m just trying to figure out what outfit to wear today.”

It seems that I committed to a lifetime of delight and sadness, inseparable from each other. Every time I look into my dear one’s eyes and feel how deeply we’re connected, the moment disappears before I can actually hold it—and I have to watch that happen. It’s excruciating. It’s much easier to do this with your thoughts when you’re meditating than with the feeling you get from his breath on your shoulder as you fall asleep. But now I get that I have to repeat this until the end of my life, and that somehow this is love’s road.

I wish I had known that when you live with someone for a long time, there is continuous, mind-blowing irritation. (Okay, I did know this, but I forgot.) Often the irritation arises when you try to replace your actual partner with a projection, because they always figure out a way to tell you how unlike your projection they really are. Once you pick yourself up, that gives you yet another opportunity to choose between who this person is and who you sort of hoped he was. No matter how many times I prompt my husband with the correct lines for his role, he does not get into character. This irritates me. We have to throw away the script and just begin to improvise. You’re playing you and I’m playing me. Go. 

I didn’t really understand that love does not arise, abide, or dissolve in connection with any particular feeling. It has almost nothing to do with feeling. (Nor does it seem to be a gesture, a commitment to stay, becoming best friends, or anything else I might have thought.) Love has become a container in which we live. Through time, riding mysterious waves of passion, aggression, and ignorance (and boredom), I think we began to live within love itself. At least I did. Each time I have opened up, extended myself, accepted what was being offered to me, stepped beyond my comfort zone to embrace him, the structure has been reinforced. I no longer have any idea if I love my husband or not. I can’t imagine what the feelings I have for him could be called. I’ve even given up trying to love him. Our relationship is what gives us love, not the other way around. This is how it is.

And finally we’re saying “I do” to goodbye. This bond will end. Hello can only mean goodbye, one way or another. Some relationships are just mistakes. Or people grow and change. Relationships crater and nobody knows why. And if all else fails, we will certainly part at death. Saul Bellow once called this acknowledgment “the black backing on the mirror that allows us to see anything at all,” and isn’t that just the key to the whole thing? The deeper our connection becomes, the more I know the reality of its ending and the more passionately I’m able to feel his touch. I know this even when I hate him (and he can really be an asshole—I’m not kidding) and when I love him so much that I plead for the opportunity to be married for all our lifetimes. 

Each time my love expands by a molecule, it grows a molecule of sorrow. The more I love, the edgier it all feels, and the more courage is required. Where you get this courage, I really don’t know. Surprisingly, it just seems to be there. And if you’re looking for a crucible in which to heat compassion, this is a really good one. Someone once told me that compassion is the ability to hold love and pain together in the same moment. So at least we’re learning something, which is what I tell myself. It sort of helps, but not really. 

Here’s something else I’ve learned about a relationship: Okay, so it’s not what you think it’s going to be, the feelings are always changing, and you’re going to have to say goodbye someday. But when you find your true love, there is something inside that simply and inexplicably says hello to him. Yes to him. Of course to him. Certainly. Obviously it’s you. There is no choice. I do.

via A Buddhist struggles with impermanence vs. marriage–how can a relationship be secure and fleeting? – Beliefnet.com.