Are you sure you will be happier in a relationship than you are now?

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    May 29, 2011 3:03 PM GMT
    While most people feel they can't be happy unless they are in a committed relationship I wonder if there are not certain dangers to becoming too comfortable in a relationship. When you are perpetually single there is this underlying pressure to hold it together so as to make yourself more attractive to a potential mate. You can’t let yourself get too out of shape or drink too much because no one will be around to take care of you.

    A visit from two old friends left me feeling a bit discouraged. A lot of people would look at their relationship with envy. They were a very handsome young couple when they met over 30 years ago. They’ve built a nice life together with a country lakefront home, and condo in New York City. They travel to wonderful places together and I have to say they complement each other in so many ways. Yet to me, it all looks so depressing and unappealing. All I see is codependency. I still remember when they were both very handsome and rather fit and now I see two out of shape middle-aged men who drink and smoke far too much. It is as if they keep sinking lower in a comfortable chair they can’t seem to leave.

    I fear they are both becoming alcoholics. The first night they shared three bottles of wines before we even hit the bar. I took them to a cool straight bar and they had a great time meeting the locals but one of them was so drunk his speech slurred. Then there was the smoking. One smokes so much that he can't sit through a meal in a restaurant without stepping out for a drag. When he goes for a smoke, the other gets the urge so he leaves. So on two different occasions the first night they left me sitting alone at the table. The first time we were waiting for the food to arrive, the second time was when we were waiting for the bill. I couldn't take it the second time and went a paid for the meal. They had insisted on treating me for dinner but I just couldn't stand the dynamics of me waiting alone after having finished my meal while they smoke. Since the wine alone (of which I had only one glass) was $150, I ended up forking out a lot of money to make a statement. They didn't leave me alone the rest of the weekend and I was happy to let them treat me.

    Don’t get me wrong I loved having my friends visit and I’m not about to tell them how to live their life. They will always be my friends but I’ve watched every attempt they’ve made to loose weight, or stop smoking fail because, I surmise, food, alcohol, (sometimes drugs) and cigarettes are what bond them together.

    Oh but that is just one relationship you will tell me. So I thought about all the long-term relationships I know, straight and gay and I am hard pressed to find an example that I wish I had. Quite a few seem like a battle of wills. There is the dominant one who overtly imposes his will on the submissive one while the submissive one uses passive aggressive techniques to regain control. I know one relationship that seems very loving but they have no intellectual connection at all. One guy has a masters and the other just a high school diploma. Their taste in art and movies is so extremely different. My friend in the relationship longs for good intellectual conversation. Then there are the relationships where the two parties seem very compatible. Those are the relationships that approach what I am looking for, except, they don’t have sex anymore. I can get that, it’s called a roommate and I have a few friends I would happily room with (and have in one case).

    I no longer crave the companionship a relationship brings as I have found so many ways to keep myself entertained. That being said, I don’t think I will ever stop craving the steady sex and affection I expect most people get in a relationship. I love spending the night spooning and I get that so rarely. I still imagine coupling all my strengths with a partner’s and building an even better life than I already have but when I look at the examples of relationships around me, what I want feels more like some pie in the sky wish that can’t possibly come true.

    Has anyone else thought this through and come to the same conclusion?
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    May 29, 2011 3:28 PM GMT
    friendormate saidHas anyone else thought this through and come to the same conclusion?
    I've have been "single" almost 6 years, and wouldn't change it for the world.
    Non-jealous, long-lasting Friends With Benefits are looked down on by most people here, but I've found them to be a much better option than all the other "relationships" I see around me. In fact, I can't even imagine having a live-in boyfriend anymore...just way too much trouble and jealousy and bickering about schedules and stuff.
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    May 29, 2011 3:47 PM GMT
    I've seen couples as described in the first post, but I have also seen couples in loving healthy relationships after decades together. Where would *I* fit in that if I was in a relationship? I can't really know without identifying the other partner and the couple dynamic as it evolves over the years. At nearly 47 years and with no prospects I will probably not be a member of a couple for 40, 30 years like some of what might be referred to as "together for a long time"
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    May 29, 2011 4:22 PM GMT
    paulflexes said
    friendormate saidHas anyone else thought this through and come to the same conclusion?
    I've have been "single" almost 6 years, and wouldn't change it for the world.
    Non-jealous, long-lasting Friends With Benefits are looked down on by most people here, but I've found them to be a much better option than all the other "relationships" I see around me. In fact, I can't even imagine having a live-in boyfriend anymore...just way too much trouble and jealousy and bickering about schedules and stuff.


    I've never been able to get the FWB thing to work. I tried it once and felt that by not pouring all my energy into the relationship it lost its intensity. I didn't feel as intimate. We are still great friends and he would agree with much of what I have written.
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    May 29, 2011 4:23 PM GMT
    intentsman saidI've seen couples as described in the first post, but I have also seen couples in loving healthy relationships after decades together. Where would *I* fit in that if I was in a relationship? I can't really know without identifying the other partner and the couple dynamic as it evolves over the years. At nearly 47 years and with no prospects I will probably not be a member of a couple for 40, 30 years like some of what might be referred to as "together for a long time"


    Yes, I know those couples. Unfortunately I've found that many of them rarely if ever have sex.
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    May 29, 2011 4:31 PM GMT
    friendormate said
    intentsman saidI've seen couples as described in the first post, but I have also seen couples in loving healthy relationships after decades together. Where would *I* fit in that if I was in a relationship? I can't really know without identifying the other partner and the couple dynamic as it evolves over the years. At nearly 47 years and with no prospects I will probably not be a member of a couple for 40, 30 years like some of what might be referred to as "together for a long time"


    Yes, I know those couples. Unfortunately I've found that many of them rarely if ever have sex.


    Perhaps it's worth considering that they may have had more sex with each other in those decades together than many can only imagine. Bill and I don't have sex as much as we used to. We expected this, as we have made love/had sex with each other over 10,000 times.

    Here's another perspective. We both know some single guys that are now in their 50s that used to masturbate frequently and some it seemed, constantly. Now not so much. Ditto for their hook-ups.


    -Doug
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    May 29, 2011 6:33 PM GMT
    interesting topic. i'm 36. i feel like i'm at a very mateable age. i know myself well enough to know where i will compromise and where i won't.

    as to your header question: i don't see myself entering into any sort of instant relationship. things have to evolve. someone who doesn't want to be friends first really has very little durability because i know once the new of the sex wears off, they'll want that new again and i can't supply that.

    would i be happier? only in the RIGHT relationship for me. and that doesn't have to be ONE scenario, (just like I don't think there is THE one, just A one that you choose to concentrate on).

    i don't think anyone really understands a relationship from the outside. sometimes even 2 people don't know what is happening until after the fact, so i don't even try. the only time it's glaring to me that something is going on is when a stable couple suddenly approaches for a 3rd out of nowwhere, and then i know something is going on, but i decline, so i never get the backstory.

    as for your couple with the smoking/drinking. they match well. it would stop working if one of them stopped being that way. sometimes it's the price you pay.

    honestly, i don't see anything in your question that is gay specific straight people could ask the same question about idealism.

    i recently had an acquaintance lament that he'd never have some big fairy tail wedding. he has an ideal, and because of it, he can't see the people around him who he could share love with because they are not mr perfect.

    i have seen multiple couples who go through the parade of a ceremony and constantly present as being a couple, who also routinely step out on each other outside of any agreement.

    when i was 19, i had read all these books on gay relationships and was convinced i'd do everything right and have a mate for life. ...um...that didn't work out because my market at that age sucked. and i was dating in my age group....

    now i take the approach of "bloom where you are planted" and communicate everything at the same level you would any contract, no matter how unromantic it is.

    not sure how much of an answer that was....
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    May 29, 2011 6:42 PM GMT
    I often wonder if having grown up as only child has anything to do with my comfort in being alone more often than others. As it stands, I've been single for nearly two years now, and I feel just fine. I haven't felt like anything was missing. Although I must admit that last year was a fairly turbulent year for me, and I think having a relationship would've added more to the stress (since I take great pride and solving problems by myself).

    Every single time I've been in a relationship, the guy appeared out of the blue. Love came when I wasn't actively looking for it. Whenever I wanted it, I could never find it. It somehow always came to me. But sometimes I believe that has something to do with the confidence I'm giving off when I'm not worrying about it. I must present some sort of aura of confidence when I'm not worried about being alone. Then all of a sudden a guy appears and we start seeing each other.

    I was never the type of person to date for the sake of dating. I have nothing to prove to anyone. Fortunately my parents mind their business and never pressure me into finding someone. Also my friends don't worry about it either. But I need to be comfortable in my own skin before someone else can appreciate me too. The door is always open for someone to enter if they want. I don't need to have a boyfriend just to be happy. But I welcome any added happiness to what I currently have.
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    May 29, 2011 6:43 PM GMT
    Well, I feel like the constant theme in my 20s has been "only you can create your own happiness." Would I like to be in a relationship? Absolutely. Will it make me happier than I am now? To some degree, yes, companionship seems to generally be a good thing, as humans we're supposed to be social creatures, but new challenges present themselves being part of a relationship. Being in a relationship will not cure depression or any other mental ailments one suffers from. One of my very close friends' wife is almost always seeing things in a negative light and for all intents and purposes, marrying him was like winning the lottery. Still she finds things to be unhappy and depressed about. I believe it's almost as much situational as it is behavioral.
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    May 29, 2011 7:04 PM GMT
    meninlove said
    friendormate said
    intentsman saidI've seen couples as described in the first post, but I have also seen couples in loving healthy relationships after decades together. Where would *I* fit in that if I was in a relationship? I can't really know without identifying the other partner and the couple dynamic as it evolves over the years. At nearly 47 years and with no prospects I will probably not be a member of a couple for 40, 30 years like some of what might be referred to as "together for a long time"


    Yes, I know those couples. Unfortunately I've found that many of them rarely if ever have sex.


    Perhaps it's worth considering that they may have had more sex with each other in those decades together than many can only imagine. Bill and I don't have sex as much as we used to. We expected this, as we have made love/had sex with each other over 10,000 times.

    Here's another perspective. We both know some single guys that are now in their 50s that used to masturbate frequently and some it seemed, constantly. Now not so much. Ditto for their hook-ups.


    -Doug


    Yes I understand that point of view and would not expect sex after many years to be the same as it was the first year. I would hope the sharing of affection, however, would remain common place. Also just how much is slowing down? Is it slowing down to once a week or a few times a month or are we talking a few times a year or many years of no sex? The former I would consider to be quite normal but the latter makes me wonder.

    I'm guessing the single friends you describe have slowed down in many other ways. It is true I don't feel as frenetic about sex as I did when I was younger but as far as masturbation or the steady desire for sex and affection, the change has been minor. I make choices now that I wouldn't have made when I was younger, like living in a small town knowing that I will most likely be celibate while living here. That, however, has more to do with pursuing non-sexual pleasures than it does with loosing my sexual urges. For example, I have found adrenaline sports to be a great substitute for sex. It gives my a high and a fall in love with the beauty of my surroundings. But after spending 2 or 3 hours playing in the ocean (or on a river), chatting with a lot of studly surfers (or kayakers), and watching a magnificent sunset along the way, I find I have a very strong urge to rub one out when I get home. That's when I think it would be so nice to have a stud waiting to take a hot shower with me when I get home. I even have the perfect three headed with a bj seat on either side. But now I digressed into a porno fantasy. This thought hasn't changed since my youth when the thought of pealing off my biking shorts after a long ride and having great hot sweaty sex made me crave a relationship. But now I fully understand, that is not at all what long-term relationships are about. Oh well, I guess that is what porno is for.

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    May 29, 2011 7:06 PM GMT
    If it's with someone I love who loves me also, then yes.
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    May 29, 2011 7:19 PM GMT
    If you're not happy as a single individual, being in a relationship won't make you happy. Happiness come from within, great sex, having companionship, partying, don't make you happy, they provide pleasant distractions.

    Seeking external sources to provide happiness never works.

  • dannyboy1101

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    May 29, 2011 8:34 PM GMT
    Never having had a real relationship I don't know. I will saythat I have evolved to a point that I don't think my dream man necessarily exists. I'm not dependent enough to jump into a relationship just to have one sO I have been trying the fwb. The unfortunate thing is those haven't really worked out either. Am I scared I may still be forever single at 30? A bit but not enough to close my eyes and just get any bf to feel validated. Every relationship I know seems rather for show in a variety of ways. I'm not doing it if it isn't real on my terms
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    May 29, 2011 9:24 PM GMT
    I had two relationships I call short term because they both only lasted about one year. When I realized that the failures were not my fault that helped. I had a hard time being alone. Once I learned and applied how to be happy alone, then and only then could I be happy with someone and make someone happy.

    It always "distresses" me when people get to the point of thinking relationships are not worth the time, the effort, the heartbreak, the happiness, the joy, the love, the companionship.....etc. If a relationship does not make someone happy, I have to assume they went into a relationship based on infatuation and not love. Or they loved a person but were not in love with him.

    I can say that after 18-1/2 years, I'm happier than I was in the beginning. When you can see such intense love and caring EVERY time your partner looks at you, you know it's right. When you can no longer see yourself living without him, you know it's right. (I'm not talking codependency.)

    You (OP) touched on the lack of sex. For one thing.... when a relationship matures, there is still sex, if there is still love. BUT... for one to be too worried about the sex after years together, he misses the whole foundation of a relationship. Yes, there should be some sex, but the other dynamics of the relationship more than compensate for ANY lack of sex. If my partner and I could still have sex, we would... often. But, do to prostate cancer and surgery, he is permanently impotent.... it doesn't mean that we can't cuddle. It doesn't mean that other areas of our relationship are not important.

    Rather than concentrate on the things you don't like about other's relationships, why don't you concentrate on what is really important in a relationship and then apply that to yourself when you do meet the right man?

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    May 29, 2011 9:36 PM GMT
    I'm not certain how to define the relationship that I want, but I think having someone would definitely make me happier. I know how a bit of genuine intimacy relieves stresses and perks up my mood. It's good for our health!
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    May 29, 2011 9:41 PM GMT
    PaulNKS said

    You (OP) touched on the lack of sex. For one thing.... when a relationship matures, there is still sex, if there is still love. BUT... for one to be too worried about the sex after years together, he misses the whole foundation of a relationship. Yes, there should be some sex, but the other dynamics of the relationship more than compensate for ANY lack of sex. If my partner and I could still have sex, we would... often. But, do to prostate cancer and surgery, he is permanently impotent.... it doesn't mean that we can't cuddle. It doesn't mean that other areas of our relationship are not important.



    another way to frame this is physical intimacy to satisfaction, rather than sex. they can be one and the same, but the former term is more encompassing of a wider life experience. it's kinda like people who can't differentiate between an ejaculation and an orgasm. yes, they can go together, but they can also be separate.
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    May 29, 2011 9:52 PM GMT
    BambinoRex saidinteresting topic. i'm 36. i feel like i'm at a very mateable age. i know myself well enough to know where i will compromise and where i won't.

    as to your header question: i don't see myself entering into any sort of instant relationship. things have to evolve. someone who doesn't want to be friends first really has very little durability because i know once the new of the sex wears off, they'll want that new again and i can't supply that.

    would i be happier? only in the RIGHT relationship for me. and that doesn't have to be ONE scenario, (just like I don't think there is THE one, just A one that you choose to concentrate on).

    (snip)


    Pretty much agree across the board.

    I think the OP assumes too many things to make it a general lesson. For example, it's not a matter of not being able to be happy "unless" one is in a committed relationship; it's a matter of being happi-er. And the underlying pressure to keep one's self "together" should be there 10fold in a relationship, as you have a responsibility to your partner in addition to yourself, which should thus be a stronger motivator. And as for the rest, when you look at all the relationships you know, "quite a few" are this, and "one" is that, and all that adds up to simply anecdotal story-telling, which is wonderful for illustrating the point you're trying to sell but doesn't really prove anything. Each relationship is unique, and it needs to be maintained, and earned, by the people involved in it. It's up to us to make it happen - and decide in the first place if we want to. Running statistics doesn't make it more or less likely.
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    May 30, 2011 12:00 AM GMT
    Having been single for about 40% of my adult life and coupled for 60%, I have to say I was happiest when things went well in the LTR and most miserable when things went the poorest. Is it the only source of happiness or sadness? No, but it is a significant one!

    Think of it as two roller coasters. On the single one, the hills don't go up as high or dip as low, but they come fast and furious. On the coupled one, the hills are really high, you have to be on that crank crank crank thing for a loooong time, and the descent is slow and gradual, but careful it can go down really low if you both let it.
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    May 30, 2011 12:03 AM GMT
    I think the best advice I ever got for relationships was that you have to love yourself before you will ever be a good partner to someone else. It gives me pause to think about myself and avoid those ugly post-breakup rebound guys (or worse going back to an ex without addressing the reason you broke up..). When I feel confident in myself again, I know I'll be ready to try this game again icon_razz.gif


    Your partner can perpetuate your vices but I can't think of any guy I have been with that hasn't taught me some new way of living or encouraged me to do positive things in my life.

    You argue that codependency is bad, but state the purpose of being single is to keep yourself attractive... presumably to enter into a relationship. If thats the only drive someone has to stay in shape and healthy, and they decide that they don't want to be in a relationship because of codependency fears.. then you defacto have the single person regressing into the very pattern you are afraid of occurring.

    I think a better message is about what constitutes a healthy relationship.

    I don't believe in "the one" but I do think I'm good enough to hold out for someone I really connect with. I've known couples that have such a strong bond of trust and communication that even if I never saw them be affectionate I would know they are deeply in love. It's that kind of connection that I value about anything else in a relationship. It's the hardest thing to obtain and I feel like most of us will never attain it. And so, I keep meeting guys, giving them a try and then if it doesn't work out I'm usually better for it regardless.

    I have a strong sense of independence and of self. I know if I really care deeply about someone they can influence me to change (for better or worse) but that kind of trust for me is really hard to win. Everyone else gets the critical and challenging me icon_biggrin.gif

    There is no easy answer for people who don't want to be in relationships. It's a very strong norm in our culture for everyone and staying single carries a strong stigmatism as you get older. Life can be very lonely and I like the prospect of having someone really close to me to share my life with. With such a huge variety of people, I don't doubt that someone can be happy and never in a relationship in our culture but it would take an exceedingly confident and strong willed person to really be happy in the face of so many negative messages about being single.
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    May 30, 2011 12:09 AM GMT
    PaulNKS said
    It always "distresses" me when people get to the point of thinking relationships are not worth the time, the effort, the heartbreak, the happiness, the joy, the love, the companionship.....etc. If a relationship does not make someone happy, I have to assume they went into a relationship based on infatuation and not love. Or they loved a person but were not in love with him.

    I can say that after 18-1/2 years, I'm happier than I was in the beginning. When you can see such intense love and caring EVERY time your partner looks at you, you know it's right. When you can no longer see yourself living without him, you know it's right. (I'm not talking codependency.)

    You (OP) touched on the lack of sex. For one thing.... when a relationship matures, there is still sex, if there is still love. BUT... for one to be too worried about the sex after years together, he misses the whole foundation of a relationship. Yes, there should be some sex, but the other dynamics of the relationship more than compensate for ANY lack of sex. If my partner and I could still have sex, we would... often. But, do to prostate cancer and surgery, he is permanently impotent.... it doesn't mean that we can't cuddle. It doesn't mean that other areas of our relationship are not important.

    Rather than concentrate on the things you don't like about other's relationships, why don't you concentrate on what is really important in a relationship and then apply that to yourself when you do meet the right man?



    Firstly let me address the most important point you make. When one partner is no longer capable of sex due to illness that is a whole different story than when both partners are quite capable but not having sex with each other. In the latter case, one or both are either seeking other avenues or being celibate. I would hope sharing affection is always possible and important even if sex is no longer a possibility. The affection I imagine would be what keeps two people together when the sex has died. Without the affection, however, I have to ask what is the point.

    Secondly I'm not make a judgement as to whether relationships are worth the trouble or not. Rather I have accepted my fate of being forever single and feel I have made the most of it. But I have to ask you, don't nearly all relationships begin with some sort of infatuation? It is when the infatuation blossoms into love that you should expect it to last longer. But when we start a relationship we can't know for sure how long it will last.

    I do know what is really important in a relationship but I can only apply that to my friendships as the "right man" is far too elusive. I've tried all the different dating avenues and it is quite frankly hopeless so I was forced to make the most of my life alone. I think I did a good job at that. I'm convinced that there are some relationships out that I would consider ideal. I'm just saying those relationships are the exception not the rule.
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    May 30, 2011 12:17 AM GMT
    I think I would. Maybe not a serious thing...done with that for a while. But spending quality time with somebody romantically is one of the best feelings ever. And I miss that. Can't just be anybody though...Sighhhicon_confused.gif I want to 'date' somebody at this point but not ready for a full blown relationship.
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    May 30, 2011 12:19 AM GMT
    canuckguy19 saidIf you're not happy as a single individual, being in a relationship won't make you happy. Happiness come from within, great sex, having companionship, partying, don't make you happy, they provide pleasant distractions.

    Seeking external sources to provide happiness never works.



    This is part of my point. Having been single most of my life I had no choice but to find happiness from within. So much so that I begin to question if I could be better off despite a desire for a steady supply of affection that will never go away. If you get too good at being independent and happy you may find that the steady supply of affection comes at a cost.

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    May 30, 2011 12:23 AM GMT
    friendormate said
    canuckguy19 saidIf you're not happy as a single individual, being in a relationship won't make you happy. Happiness come from within, great sex, having companionship, partying, don't make you happy, they provide pleasant distractions.

    Seeking external sources to provide happiness never works.



    This is part of my point. Having been single most of my life I had no choice but to find happiness from within. So much so that I begin to question if I could be better off despite a desire for a steady supply of affection that will never go away. If you get too good at being independent and happy you may find that the steady supply of affection comes at a cost.



    I disagree because I think it must depend on the person. For me, I am happier when I have companionship from somebody I care about. But then again, I am happy regardless if I am single or dating so I see your point that happiness comes from within oneself...I just know that for me, and probably alot of other ppl, having companionship, affection, (the great sex doesnt hurt either), can actually make somebody enjoy the mundane aspects of life more. So yea I think its varies on personal level.
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    May 31, 2011 2:07 AM GMT
    Supermann said
    friendormate said

    This is part of my point. Having been single most of my life I had no choice but to find happiness from within. So much so that I begin to question if I could be better off despite a desire for a steady supply of affection that will never go away. If you get too good at being independent and happy you may find that the steady supply of affection comes at a cost.



    I disagree because I think it must depend on the person. For me, I am happier when I have companionship from somebody I care about. But then again, I am happy regardless if I am single or dating so I see your point that happiness comes from within oneself...I just know that for me, and probably alot of other ppl, having companionship, affection, (the great sex doesnt hurt either), can actually make somebody enjoy the mundane aspects of life more. So yea I think its varies on personal level.


    I completely agree with you. I LOVE good companionship and when I meet a cool person and feel I have chemistry I think I get more excited than a person who is coupled would. If there is sexual chemistry then I will probably become smitten pretty easily. Most single people value their friendships enormously because that is where we get the love and support we are not getting from a steady partner. Sometimes people who are partner rely on their partner for too much and then if there is a break up or death they are not only devastated but a bit lost as well.


    I hear so many of you say that you want a relationship but it has to be "the right relationship." That "right person" for me is someone who connects with all the positive energy I have spent so many years cultivating. But I also have to have a sexual attraction and that is why I am still single and why I'm afraid most of you will remain single. I've known guys who really want relationships and they make it happen even if it doesn't seem right at first. Sometimes they don't even have much physical attraction at first and yet they remain together forever. For them, they pick a partner the way most of us choose a job.
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    May 31, 2011 2:25 AM GMT
    Not that breaking up is an easy or painless thing to deal with, but sometimes I think because I'm comfortable being by myself, it's a bit easier for me to overcome heartbreak. There's still a bit of loneliness, pain, and tears, but eventually I grow to like time to myself again for a while. Meanwhile I can't help but worry about those who are so dependent on others to be happy. Some can become really devastated by a breakup. Although, of course, it largely depends, no?