Thank you for the good work that you are doing. I am 28 years old and this is my concern: Men don’t seem interested in me. I have actually never dated anyone and this has led to my friends believing that something is wrong with me. They even make nasty jokes about me, asking if I am a lesbian. I am no longer comfortable in their company because all of them are either married or in serious relationships. Gradually, my esteem has been eroded and it is currently very low. I keep wondering what could be wrong with me. Am I not beautiful enough or is it my character that puts men off? Please help
There are a few things that are important in starting and maintaining a thriving relationship. First, build a healthy view of yourself. How we view ourselves is key to how we react to how others view of us. Not everybody is happy with who we are. We cannot solely allow what other people think of us to determine our happiness or success in life. I have always noted that when I have a healthy view of self, I am able to overcome any hurdle thrown my way.
My hope is that you should not allow one area in your life to cause cracks in the rest of the foundation you have made for your life. Life is more than marriage, more than money, and more than children — even though all these things are good.
There are many unhappy singles as there are many unhappy married people. The vice versa is also true. So, see life as more than these. Your happiness should not be in things, but in the fact that your life can make a difference whether single or married.
Second, grow a strong personal character built on a great value system. Your values feed your belief system, which is key in determining how you view and live life. Fear can kill our faith and destroy our ability to see the new opportunities that this life offers. Locking ourselves up or closing ourselves from people will only work against our desired intention to be part of other people’s lives.
Becoming sociable has its own risks, one of them being a choice to be vulnerable. We have to intentionally make the decision to see good in other people. Being negative or overly anxious places us in a place of doubt that could damage our connectivity with others.
Third, be sociable within acceptable limits as you face the realities of life. Following your fears or fantasising about what could be does not bring out what the real world looks like. Learning to accept who we are shapes us for the real world and teaches us how we can accommodate those who are not only different, but would appear to treat us differently.
The feelings you have are tainted with various experiences emanating from how you feel you have been treated. Put boundaries on how far other people’s view of you can affect your connectivity.
In life, feelings are not the end, but could just be part of the journey of finding and building love. We need to be careful of the biggest lie and misconception we have concerning relationships: “Because I feel great, it must be right.”
We should not forget that we live in a real world with real people who are facing real challenges that could have an impact on us.
Generally, love that is built purely on feelings lacks the necessary intelligence. Psychologist and author Shirley Glass states that “Relationships are contingent on honesty and openness.” Honesty does not mean that we condemn ourselves. When deception is allowed to entrench itself, it defines how we define reality.
Fourth, set clear priorities in life that are cognisant of the need for sacrifice. Looking at statistics on marriage and relationships in general, selfishness is possibly the most dangerous threat to building focused life. This is why it’s worth reflecting on Napoleon Hill’s words, ‘great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and never the result of selfishness, doubt or fear’.
Killing self-pity will have to be your number one priority. In relationships, people who allow their own selfish outlook and desire to rule how they view others is at greater risk of introducing a faulty self-image and therefore self-centred living. Growing self must have at its base an intentional effort to re-place self-centred behaviour and attitude with selfless acts of learning to affirm and love self.
People’s words can be poisonous. Quoting from an Anonymous writer, “A stranger stabs you in the front; a friend stabs you in the back; a boyfriend stabs you in the heart, but best friends only poke each other with straws.” It is up to you to determine what will cause you greatest concern.
Fifth, determine what brings you greatest pleasure. Every spouse must have a healthy view of the place of relationships and marriage. As I mentioned, believing that marriage is all that there is to life will create a distorted view of the purpose and intention of marriage. Indeed, some of your friends may be married and others dating, but they do not have the monopoly of knowledge in defining what true happiness really is.
Finally, our ability to steward our lives well is what gives meaning, direction, fulfilment and purpose to our lives. This is what you need instead of looking down on yourself. What we face in life may not be favourable.
However, our attitude matters on how successful our journey could become. We are called to be stewards who know and accept who we are; have a strong belief in our dreams, and who know how to refuel themselves.
Dealing with feelings of betrayal
When one feels like their dreams have been crashed, it is easy to shift blame. Although what people see as betrayal often becomes a painful journey, we have to realise that in this world, we will meet challenges and trials that will affect how we view life.
1. Acknowledge relational pain
Just knowing that I have been hurt or I have been misunderstood by others should be a sign that all is not well. Relationships function better where such hurts, once acknowledged, are followed by an affirmation that action is needed to rebuild trust. Instead of being taunted by pain that may lead one into depression, facing these challenges releases the pressure.
2. Seek peace with yourself and others
Where there is a relational challenge, each spouse suffers a certain level of pain and disappointment. How we deal with the pain and disappointment will pave the way to healing. Remaining objective on issues of life helps one see them more clearly. Pain has a way of clouding our desire to seek peace. Sometimes, the offender has to deal with things that distract, including the feelings of regret, blaming self, and feelings of shame.
3. Desire connectivity, not revenge
Feelings of vengeance should never be an option. The idea of an eye for an eye will not grant us the satisfaction we need.
4. Choose reason and wisdom
Revenge based on selfishness and a crave to get even gets us into a rut that can destroy. “Why do otherwise intelligent, well-adjusted, poised, and competent men and women lose all sense of control when they become husbands and wives,” asks Donna Otto?
The purpose of conflict is never to tear a couple apart, but to strengthen a couple’s commitment to the values of the relationship. Therefore, wisdom and reason dictate that we call for a marital truce as a conscious effort to cease hostilities, says Tim Muehlhoff. This opens a door for the conflict to be looked at through sober eyes.
It is the duty of every couple to make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. Thriving relationships are not devoid of pain and suffering.