Question: I'm 36 and I'm afraid I'll never get married. With all of the guys I've ever been with in the past, we all have broken up for different reasons, but they've all cited one reason in particular across the board… they all say that I'm "too needy". I don't even know what that means. And is it such a bad thing to need someone? I think generations before us needed each other – Where would our grandparents be if they didn't lean on each other during the depression? Are we in a society that just fends for themselves and disregards the beauty of a relationship and the concept of a "life partner?" Or is being "needy" guy-code for something – if so, please decode.
– Lauren Dittmer, Cincinnati
Answer: Ooh… "cracking the code". Looks like all of that time I spend deciphering the weekly crypto-quip word puzzles in the newspaper is finally going to pay off!
First of all, if all of these guys are giving you the same lame excuse for breaking up, maybe the real problem isn't you, but your choice of men. Maybe they all say the same thing because they're all the same type of guy? (A guy who, aside from sounding awfully immature, has an obvious innate fear of commitment.) What are their similarities? How did you meet these guys? Are they related? (To each other, of course – not to you.)
Try switching things up a bit. Pick up a new hobby. Join a club. Visit new and exciting places, like the art museum, a new restaurant, or if you're into the nightclub scene, try someplace other than your usual hangout. (As a wise man once said, you can only fish the same pond so much, before you run out of fish. Or something like that. And hopefully, he won't want royalties for using his timely and pertinent expression.)
On the other hand, it might also be true that these guys have a point. I mean, after all – you started your e-mail by declaring your fear of being single (contrary to popular belief, most "biological clocks" do not have some sort of bomb attached to them that goes off by age 36. At least I sure hope not.) Why are you so consumed with marriage? Is it because so many of your friends/relatives/co-workers have tied the knot? Are you feeling left out? Like the last kid picked for dodgeball on recess? Another wise man once told me two letters that sum everything up: HK. Who Cares. (or rather, "Hoo Kares.") Brilliant, huh? (With all of these "wise men" I've apparently met over my lifetime, you think I'd be a little smarter by now, wouldn't you?)
Don't weigh yourself down with all of that excess wedding baggage. If you're preoccupied with marriage going into a relationship, it's going to show. And there's a good chance you'll start holding on too tightly, before the other person is ready for it. One of the hardest things for some people to accept is the fact that, hey, you might get married, you might not. But either way, you're going to be just fine. Trust me on this.
A couple of years ago, I was in a similar situation. After yet another failed relationship, I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get married. But then I asked myself, why was it so important for me to get married, anyway? Was it for me? For my family? For the tax benefits? The more I thought about it, the more I realized I could be truly happy on my own. My happiness wasn't dependent upon someone else. I can't tell you what a liberating feeling that was. I was happy with who I was, and where I was in my life. And I think you should be, too.
Shortly after my enlightening experience, I met a great girl who, coincidentally, was on a date with another guy at the time. But apparently, there was something about a poor, touring musician with a knack for doing spot-on Homer Simpson impressions that she just couldn't resist. Long story short, we're getting married next year. The point is, it wasn't until I was ready to give up on the idea of being married and just be happy by myself that I was truly ready to find the right person to spend the rest of my life with.
Wow. That all sounded kind of profound. At this rate, I could end up being one of those "wise guys" myself. Who'd of thunk it?