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Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo

Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo

One of the many interesting things about being a life-long, single male in his early forties is people’s reactions to that single-ness (yep, a word). Everyone has an opinion on it. Depending on the person’s thinking, it can place me anywhere on the scale from ‘complete social outcast’, to ‘coolest bloke on earth’ and ‘luckiest man alive’. And elicit responses ranging from pity and ridicule, to envy and admiration. Or in the case of my mother, complete devastation. My darling mom sees me essentially as a means to a grandchild and to be honest, I have been a bitter disappointment. Sure, she wants me happily married, but what she really wants is that kid. And yes, she lets me know it.

I love the mentality that says “single at that age, must be something wrong with him. Weirdo.”

Yep, had plenty of that.

“He’s how old? And no woman? Must have a lot of issues.”

“Poor thing.”

Interesting psychology that. Yet, very common.

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What’s wrong with a little Enya?

It’s like they have a picture in their mind of me sitting at home every night in my underwear, in a room lit by candles, eating meatloaf flavored ice-cream from a paper plate, with my pet rat Eugene on my shoulder, my feet in one of those foot spas, a little ‘Enya’ playing in the background and some strategically placed cushions with images of my ex-girlfriends embroidered on them, lying around the room.

That’s okay right?

If I had said tuna flavored ice-cream, now that woulda been weird.

Waddya mean the cushion thing is creepy?

Oh well.

We all know that married people have no issues and that if, per chance, they do enter into their matrimonial journey with a few problems, the marriage ceremony will alleviate those instantly and forever. Great how that works isn’t it?

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What people think about me being single doesn’t bother me at all, but it does interest me. For some bizarre reason, my single-ness is fascinating to some. I personally don’t think it’s interesting at all, but you would be shocked by the number of people who want to interrogate me regarding my ‘lack of wife’ status, in an attempt to discover what’s wrong with me. “There’s gotta be something, it’s not normal” someone told me recently. I wonder if I wasn’t single, whether people would say “so Craig, why are you married?”

The marriage rule

Apparently, as a Personal Development speaker and writer I should be married. It’s a rule. People have suggested that my career would benefit from my extrication from the world of single-dom. Doesn’t really matter whether I’m happily married or not, as long as I’m married.

A woman said to me recently, “I thought someone as evolved as you, would have found your soul-mate long ago.” I actually laughed out loud at her. “Clearly, I have a way to go”, was my response. Her friend (in the same conversation) suggested that I was probably gay but didn’t know it, or want to admit it. “Oh, I’m pretty sure I’m not”, I shared. “You think you’re sure”, she said. “All the pretty girls you meet, and not one wife?” I didn’t realize ‘pretty’ was the determinant for a life partner. Missed that memo. Okay, note to self: if she’s hot, marry her. There’s my big mistake: stupidly, I’ve been looking beyond appearance. Weirdo.
Apparently, my single-ness is some kind of indicator of dysfunction. That’s it; I’m getting married this week. That’ll fix me.

Marriage issues

I would never have thought to write an article on this topic, but some people seem to be fascinated by the whole single verses married discussion and in my little world, the conversation seems regularly to be directed back towards me. Of course there is no wrong or right, only opinions, so that’s what I’m sharing. People often want to hear my thoughts on marriage because I’m single. Don’t know why. “Do you have marriage issues”, I got asked last week. No, I love the idea of marriage and maybe I will be happily married one day, but if I don’t get married, that’s cool too. What I do have a problem with is, marrying someone who I’m not desperately, hopelessly in love with; marriage for the sake of not being single – seen it a million times.

For some people it’s like…

“Yep, he/she ticks all the right boxes, definitely a candidate. Let’s see, money – check, good family – check, career – check, looks – check, marriage it is.”

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“Er, yeah but I don’t really love him/her.”

“Stop being unrealistic, you’re thirty four. Stop being so fussy, you won’t do any better.”

Ticking enough boxes

Over the years I have had many people say to me, “Hmm, you’d be a good catch… you need to meet my sister/daughter/cousin/girlfriend!” And their reason for saying that I’m a ‘catch’ is not because of my values, personality, integrity or all-round fantastic-ness (a word), it’s because they see me as being moderately successful and financially secure. A safe bet.

I find that sad.

“Yes, he ticks enough boxes; put him on the list Sally.” To me, some people seem to be more in love with the ‘idea’ of marriage than the actual person they’re marrying or are married to. I see this as a catastrophe in waiting. It’s also apparent that some people are so petrified of being single, that finding their ‘soul mate’ gets compromised down to “is he or she breathing? Wouldn’t have been my first (or tenth) choice but hey, I have limited options, so giddy up cowboy(girl), get me that ring.”

I have had literally thousands of conversations over the last three hundred years (you know I’m immortal right?) with people who are miserable in their marriage, yet amazingly, do nothing to fix it, or change the situation. For many people, marriage is something to be endured, tolerated even and of course for others, it’s the best thing that will ever happen to them.

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Okay, here are some random thoughts on the matter. Feel free to correct me or teach me a lesson – I am just a single Australian bloke…

  1. I am not against marriage in any way. Most of my friends are married and I know it can be an incredible part of the human experience. Given the opportunity with the right person, I would love to share my life with someone but, I’d rather be single forever, than married for the sake of it. And yep, I’ve been close a few times.
  2. I don’t believe that people need to be married to be fulfilled, functional, balanced or happy; those things are not dependent on marital status. You don’t need to be a researcher to discover that marriage doesn’t (automatically) equal happiness, just open your eyes. People seem to struggle with the thought of me being single and happy. They think I’m lying. It bothers them.”You’re not really happy, you only think you are… you’re just trying to convince yourself.”

    “Er, okay. I didn’t realize how miserable I am – thanks”.

  3. Some people are so terrified of being alone that they will compromise themselves to the point of actually losing their identity. “I’ll be whatever you want me to be..” You’ve seen it. Maybe you’ve been it. Misery and frustration is always the result. It’s important (for many reasons) that we learn to be comfortable and secure on our own before we launch into a life partnership.
  4. Too many people enter into marriage wearing those rose colored glasses, only to have them ripped off by about day three. They spend a year planning how to have a great wedding and zero time planning how to have a great marriage.
  5. People who have that sense of urgency to get married are less likely to find marital bliss and less likely to appeal to a potential partner. Note to all wanna-be brides and grooms: Desperation – not attractive.
  6. While I’m open to the idea of marriage, and I would love a little Craig or Craigette one day, I love my life right now and I gotta say, singledom… not as horrible as some would have you believe!!!

Okay, now that I’ve opened that can of worms, I’ll let you play with them. I’m off to finish my meatloaf ice-cream and revel in my dysfunction.

Hey, where’s Eugene gone?

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

More by this author

Craig Harper

Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

Do You Make These 10 Common Mistakes Before Weighing Yourself? If your Childhood Sucked – It’s Time to Stop Blaming Your Parents! Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo Education Should be More than Academic Basics How to Stop Being an Over-Thinker

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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