I Don’t Know How To Be In A Relationship

I don’t know how to be in a relationship. I know how to be a friend, I know how to be a daughter, I know how to be a sister but I don’t know how to have a partner — someone who is included in my day-to-day life, someone I go on vacations with and for whom I’m willing to travel to some horrible town to meet their parents. I’ve dated people before but it never turned into anything substantial. I pushed my lovers away until they had no choice but to end it themselves. I was petrified every step of the way. Of what, I’m not sure, but every time I started settling in to some routine, I’d retreat. It’d be easy to write myself off as a commitment-phobe or as someone who just hasn’t met the right person yet — both of which could be true — but it’s also something deeper, something far more serious than just jitters or dating a string of Mr. Wrongs. It’s a failure on my part, a type of shortcoming. Some people aren’t good at sports or have trouble understanding math. Maybe this is my weak spot. Maybe I just legitimately don’t know how to be in a relationship with someone.

The frustrating thing about all of this is that I actually want companionship. I want to lay in bed with someone and give all of my love to them. I am a very loving person. I’m an excellent friend and a thoughtful co-worker. All signs indicate that I’d be a fantastic girlfriend. But I’m not. I’m terrible. The second I start dating someone, I start to feel suffocated and look for a way out. I break plans, I make excuses, and for what? A movie night with my best friend? To be alone in my bedroom? To work? Why am I so quick to deny myself something I clearly want? It has always been self-sabotage. Nothing else. I’m so locked inside of myself at this point and I’m not sure if anyone will ever be able to get me out.

I want to be better but I don’t even know where to begin. I look at my relationship experience in comparison to other people my age and feel totally pathetic. My best friend, for example is an expert at having relationships. She thrives in her role as a girlfriend. It makes sense for her. She’s experienced. I, on the other hand, have no idea what it’s like to even have a toothbrush at someone else’s house. And we’re getting to that age where it’s downright bizarre that I’ve never been in a serious relationship before. You can no longer blame it on bad luck. It’s me. I’m the problem. I’ve had people who were ready to love me, ready to be my plus one, and I ran away from them screaming. In my head, I would rationalize it as them just being bugaboos and me wanting to be an independent woman but let’s be real, I’m just insane. I have intimacy issues. Something happened to me that caused me to go into my shell but I’m not sure what it was. My whole life I’ve been surrounded by an abundance of love from family and friends, so I’m not exactly sure where it went wrong but it did. I’m wrong, broken, damaged goods, whatever.

I want to know how to be someone’s girlfriend. I want to know how to love someone so completely without being crippled with anxiety. I want to get over whatever it is that’s holding me back from achieving this but I also have to face the reality that I might not ever figure it out. People do end up alone. It’s a thing! Months turn into years and all of a sudden you’re the one who never found love. I’m at a crossroads. Either figure it out now or get used to living life alone. Love is like a muscle and if you don’t use it, you’re going to forget how to do it. You’re going to forget how to love and then you’re going to be forgotten. TC mark

image – gogoloopie


More From Thought Catalog

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/06/i-don%e2%80%99t-know-how-to-be-in-a-relationship/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] Thought Catalog » Love & Sex Add a comment […]

  • Um.


  • JLUA

    Yes, this is it exactly. I still hope that there is this one guy, THE ONE and when I will meet him (hopefully before I’m 30) it will just work and I won’t run away…

  • Ab

    Story of my life. I sabotage people who are willing to love me.

    • Danielle

      There’s something deeper that causes you to believe you dont deserve it, that your not good enough to recieve love..thats my experience. figuring it out takes alot of hard work

  • Melissa

    It’s like you shadowed my life.

  • Ouch.

    Last two sentences. Brutal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cherryket7 Ketsia Leste

    Aouch ! hitting home :/

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=796914151 Javier Alfonso Roces

    You are EXACTLY my girl counterpart. I’m feeling ya.

  • http://twitter.com/ItsMexicanNight ItsMexicanNight

    Bummer. Still, doesn’t sound like it’s diminished your thoroughly healthy ego.

  • http://teejowee.wordpress.com teejowee

    This is the story of my life right here. You’ve just described me to a tee.

  • Ann

    Story of my life.

  • http://twitter.com/edushke Edite A (@edushke)

    Exactly the same… time is fast passing me by :(

  • http://gravatar.com/nishantjn nishantjn

    Is everyone only going to write about the same stuff, pander to the same easy-to-excite emotions, and say only what everyone else is also thinking?

    TC used to be a better place than that, and it’s strange to be surrounded by people simply wanking each other off. (It’s an analogy, don’t take it literally.)

    • http://ladaysandnights.wordpress.com ladaysandnights

      do you know that there are comments like this on practically every TC article? what i’m saying is, you’re boring.

  • Su

    Thanks for this – it’s nice to know I’m not the only fucked up one here who hasn’t had a serious relationship at my age.

    I think what it comes down to is practice, as with everything in life. I hope with time I’ll get better at this. I hope the same for you too.

    • http://twitter.com/JustGeeee Geleen Faye Gallego (@JustGeeee)

      let’s all hope for the best out of our pathethic lives.. *sobs

    • http://twitter.com/JustGeeee Geleen Faye Gallego (@JustGeeee)


  • Mushion

    Yeah. this sounds very familiar. I’ve decided to stop looking or at least stop wanting it so much. I’m a person who thrives when I’m on my own. I have friends and family and I love them to pieces and for now it’s enough. Maybe It will be enough in the future too. And if it’s not, burn that bridge when it comes to it

  • http://booksfrommycloset.wordpress.com Books From My Closet

    You just said out loud or in this post exactly how I have felt, it scares me sometimes to think that I will end up alone if I don’t get over what freaks me out about it all. Some days I just accept that I have been forgotten by cupid and that there is something seriously wrong with me. I think how weird am I? Nothing in my life has ever happened that leads me here other than fear, but fear of what? Time goes by so fast. You basically spoke my life in a nutshell.

    • http://twitter.com/JustGeeee Geleen Faye Gallego (@JustGeeee)

      i understand your sentiments dear. :(

  • May

    Me too.

  • Paige


  • http://twitter.com/ItsMexicanNight ItsMexicanNight

    Idea: What if everyone on here, rather than posting tear-stained confessions of their own emotional inadequacy, just got drunk and GOT IT ON WITH EACH OTHER? Maybe in a big polyamorous Thought Catalog 18-way gang bang? At least then we’d get some decent content.

    • http://adna-cerebralcore.tumblr.com/ AD

      that’s the other side she didn’t mention, as a result of not knowing how to be in a relationship we fuck the shit out of each other, literally. Or at least that’s what I do, when I stall I just have sex

      • Domino


  • Holly

    This is just life. Get a grip.

  • sky

    im GLAD to know that im not the only one.

  • http://twitter.com/JessLK721 Jess K (@JessLK721)

    Wow. I swear I’m reading a page out of my own journal.

  • http://twitter.com/JustGeeee Geleen Faye Gallego (@JustGeeee)

    oh my! this is exactly what i’m feeling right now! ive been depressed everyday for this specific thought!!! i want to cry, somebody’s going through this like me. and im telling you its pathethic :(

  • Em

    I swear I was like this… then one day I found someone who changed all of that. Who made being a girlfriend just so easy and wonderful. It’s just a matter of patiently waiting until the right person comes along — not necessarily your soulmate, just someone who you’ll inexplicably love enough to fall naturally into the habit of being with them for a long time. :) The wait is hard but it’s worth it.

    • http://twitter.com/JustGeeee Geleen Faye Gallego (@JustGeeee)

      oh my, im happy for you! at least i can go on with a positive light in my path, there’s hope! he better come..

  • heather

    As hard as it may be. You are going to have to fight it. Fight that urge to blow off your date to go out with your girls or rent sappy movies and watch them alone. I know for me I am always fine in the beginning but when I start to felt anything or it started to become serious I ran. I have been cruel to people, doubting every word they ever said. I would feed into my own insecurities and blame them for it. I would blow them off pretty much do anything to make them leave. But what I have learned (from being in a relationship with someone who loves me as much as I love him) is you have to fight that itch. Its going to be hard at first but instead of running the first chance you get at love take that chance. Don’t be so scared to get hurt because its easier to push and affirm all your thoughts than actually put yourself into a position where you can get hurt. Just take that first step. I will be a battle for a while and with every relationship you have until you find the right one. But once you do it wont feel like a fight anymore.

    • http://twitter.com/JustGeeee Geleen Faye Gallego (@JustGeeee)

      right. ive been trying to do that a lot of times but i always fail. i still run like a coward… but i will still do my best to fight

    • Rocket

      I’ve always had this idea that maybe it shouldn’t be that hard to fight, that if he’s the right one then maybe it should also make sense that I should be with him. Well as it turns out, I am completely clueless so I’m giving your comment the benefit of the doubt. I’m turning 23 and I haven’t been in a relationship nor have I actually put myself out there to date someone. Like the author, I’ve loving family and friends so I’ve never been kept from the feeling of being loved. I’ve had a number of good-natured men who tried to court me but I don’t know why it just never did make any sense to go on further. The worst part is, I actually feel really bad for turning some of them down but also feel (with a sense of certainty) that it’s better that way. I’m so glad to read this article and find that I’m not the only one.

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