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Hi Minda Honey,
I am a single 26-year-old woman who is, for the most part, very content with my life. I have a day job I love, very close friendships and am actively involved in my local music community. While these things generally keep me very busy, there is something that is eating me aside: I am extremely envious of all of my friends in relationships. And I mean envious.
A little background: I come from a family where addiction was present and have always had trouble with abandonment anxiety and a very “anxious attachment” style (shout out to the self-help book “Attached” by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller for helping me realize this). While discovering this about myself has been a relatively recent thing, it has resulted in the majority of the relationships in my past ending as a result of me being dumped. It has meant a lot of heartbreak for me. Almost a year ago, I was broken up with on telephone by somebody I truly loved. I haven’t been able to get over it since.
Not only has my inability to let go meant that I’ve been carrying a lot of sadness around with me for awhile, but it also has put a strain on my friendships. And the strain is my fault. It has become very hard for me to listen to my friends talk about their romantic partners. It doesn’t matter whether they are talking about a romantic dinner they had or just using “we” in a sentence — it all bothers me! Sometimes I lash out or just ignore my friends for days.
I know this is not a healthy way to live, but I can’t help but feel like couples are all around me. I want so, so deeply for somebody to invest in my life the way a partner does and for somebody to share the ups and downs of life with. I am terrified that I am going to be alone forever because of my deep emotional issues. Even on the best of days, I feel undesirable, unattractive, and even unlovable. I am in intensive therapy, but the feeling still persists. Do you have any everyday tips of things that I can go to help myself not be so irritable?
Breaking up with someone who loves you via phone is simultaneously outdated and just plain not nice. (Really, the one phone call they’re probably going to make all month is to shatter a heart? What? Too cowardly to do it in person and afraid if done by text the person you’re dumping might not receive the break up with the proper vocal inflection?!) But Not-Nice folks sometimes do us a favor by so totally destroying us that there’s no possible way for us to shroud our eyes in with the glimmering fantasy that maybe someday they’ll want us back.
I need you to know you don’t deserve to be treated that way, which means you are deserving of more than what that Not-Nice person was serving up romantically. As you probably also learned from “Attached” — basically, everybody needs to read that book — is that when you implement a standard for romantic partners and maintain that standard, subpar partners quickly fall to the wayside so you can focus on enjoying your life solo or meeting the right person. You can’t do that if you’re investing emotional energy in ol’ Not-Nice. And as long as you’re seeing yourself through the lens of Not-Nice’s rejection, you’re not going to feel desirable. I know the unlovable feelings haven’t vanished yet, but you’re already on the right path with therapy to change your self-perception, and that’s brave, hard work to do.
As far as your friends go, I feel you so strongly on this. It can be excruciating to be surrounded by so many couples. When I’m not feeling it (which is most of the time), I just decline invitations to things where I know I’m going to be the only single. I also keep my envy from getting to monstrous levels by kicking it with other singles and, this is really important, not letting that time be dominated by convo about how shitty dating is. We talk about the full spectrum of our lives. I’ve discovered, I can apply that standard to all of my friendships.
I bet it’s not all of your friends that are turning you green with envy. It’s probably one or two who all they do is talk about their relationship or their partner and that’s turned the subject toxic to you. If that’s the case, stop hanging out with those one-note personalities or, if they matter to you enough, express your concerns and see if their convo becomes more well-rounded (and if not, then ditch them!).