Why is desperately needing a relationship toxic for a relationship?
In our modern culture, not being in a relationship ends up causing a man to be labeled as “having a problem.”
His parents are worried. They don’t miss a chance to ask him if he’s dating anyone. His friends are trying to help by setting him up on dates with every girl they meet in Starbucks. And his grandmother is lining up nurses at the hospital immediately after her stroke (true story). There’s a subtle undertone that being a single man means you have major issues.
This fear and anxiety can lead to some pretty toxic beliefs about one’s worth.
If you count dating in the fourth grade, that’s when I started. It entailed holding hands at the skate deck and occasionally playing jump rope. As I got older, hugging my current girl really intensified the situation.
Then tongues jammed down my throat. My butt got grabbed. Girls started admitting they looked up my shorts during gym class.
As I started puberty, I found myself in relationship after relationship. Maybe it was because I was physically attractive and known as the “six-pack” kid, or maybe because I had some other feature that my shy self couldn’t recognize. Regardless, I had nine years of relationship after relationship.I only had 3 weeks in a row of being single until I was 25.
When one relationship ended, I put on my game face and jumped into the field of love to find another girl.
Looking back, I can recall intense anxiety of being alone.
This fear of being single and seeing everyone else in a relationship made me feel inadequate. I didn’t just want a relationship. I desperately needed one to feel good about myself.
In fact, after my college sweetheart ended things, I spent 2 months searching for the next girlfriend. I would go out every Friday and Saturday night with buddies; not to spend time with them, but to use them as social proof that I wasn’t some loser frantically searching for the next girl. I would average 3-7 numbers a night, and usually a few make out sessions. The moment the bar I was in was filled with women I had already talked to or had no desire for, I grabbed my buddies and we went to the next one. Talk. Get Number. Repeat.
At the time, despite my deep insecurities filling me with anxiety, I felt like the MAN. I was going on dates at least 3 times a week, and on average, seeing 3-5 different women at the same time. My friends used to laugh because they couldn’t keep the names straight of all the woman I was spending time with.
At some point I met a woman that I found more attractive than all the rest, so I stopped talking to the others. We dated for about a year. I felt I was inferior to her beauty and as a result I acted extremely needy. Inevitably, this lead to her ending things with me.
That’s when shit hit the fan. I felt a gaping hole inside and was I determined to fill it. So I went crazy and started sleeping with tons of women, hired a few mistresses, and was kissing practically any girl that looked my way.
When our self-worth becomes extrinsically tied to our relationships, we’re giving the people we date the responsibility of making us feel good about ourselves, even though this person has never experienced our own life in our perspective before.
We place the key to our happiness in someone else’s pocket.
Our relationships become the external validation we need to feel worthy. For other guys, it’s the amount of money, the six pack, or the Porsche. This external validation leads to neediness and insecurities within a relationship.
Of particular concern is the consistent finding that, although those with low self-esteem want affirmations from partners, their self-doubts translate into relationship insecurities. 1
The Self-Worth Meter
Let’s say this is me. I’m a pretty harsh judge of the quality of my life. If I was scoring myself, I’d give myself a score of 1.
To me, it’s not good enough. I don’t have the gorgeous girlfriend who turns heads as she walks by. She’s bursting with charm and charisma, lighting up every room she enters. She’s the rising star in her career and cherished by all her friends. And that’s just her public persona – at home, she’s mind-blowing in bed, an amazing cook, selfless, and devoted. 2