One of our magnificent readers Liz, is feeling utterly powerless...
Here's her story:
Hi Jane! First of all, I LOVE your site. Thanks for always being honest, helpful, and down to earth.
Given that, I'm hoping you can help me here.
I want SO badly to be that happy, independent, empowered single woman. I should be happy - I have my dream career, a social life, close friends and family, and my own hobbies.
However, for some awful reason, I'm secretly so unbelievably lonely and depressed, unless I'm talking to/dating/sleeping with a man. When I'm completely single and don't have a man giving me validation, I'm so sad going about my daily life, activities, and errands.
Then BAM, as soon as I start talking to someone, I'm happy as a clam, merrily going along with my day.
And then on the other hand, when something doesn't work out, I am DEVASTATED. Even if they are acting a little shady, instead of being like, "whatever!!" I get physically sick to my stomach checking my phone every five seconds, not being able to concentrate on my job.
I hate this about myself.
It's my biggest weakness - and in my heart I KNOW that true love will come my way when I'm TRULY happy being alone. I just want to be one of those happy, single women. But nope, I'm only happy if I have a random guy texting me, "Good morning, beautiful!"
It's pathetic. Help!
I'm so glad you reached out to me.
I can't even begin to tell you just how much your email reminded me of myself not so long ago.
As long as there was someone pursuing me, everything about life felt wonderful and I was on top of the world! But alone, I was never content, let alone happy, and it was always an act trying to pretend I was the confident, independent woman I was so good at showing the world.
But behind closed doors, I could never hide the truth of what I really felt. The lonely little girl always looking for love in all the wrong places was always there as I closed the door behind me and stepped into the reality of my own lonely life.
Time and time again I hear such a similar story from some of the most successful, intelligent, outwardly confident women I've ever known.
The majority of these women all share one thing in common. No matter how successful they may be in their professional lives, no matter how full their social calendar may be, there is a loneliness - and a shame about that loneliness - they all carry with them.
Without having worked with you before to get some more background, Liz, it's hard for me to pinpoint exactly where your "a-ha" moment may lie.
But from what you have told me, I sense that there's something for you to find behind your words "I should be happy." Therein lies my question to you. Why "should" you be happy? Are you living your life for yourself or someone else? Whose idea of perfection are you trying to live up to? And more specifically, why do you feel the need to?
There's more here, too, in your words "for some awful reason". And in "I'm secretly so unbelievably lonely and depressed". As well as in "I hate this about myself."
Like I said, without knowing more details it's impossible to know for sure, but I think I may have some idea of what's going on here, Liz.
Without someone to please, to measure your worth against, you don't know who you are. Work provides that validation as you measure yourself against your goals and objectives and what you planned for your life.
Your friends and family provide that validation as you participate in a relationship with each of them. They respond to you and by their response, you become real. You know more about yourself in relation to them. But without them, without talking to someone, you don't really know who you are or where you fit in.
And so without a man in your life, without someone in the queue, without a prospect on the horizon, without someone to talk to and maybe flirt with a little, you don't know who you are.
With all your sense of worth coming from outside of yourself, Liz, it's no wonder you're devastated and becoming physically sick to your stomach to the point that it affects your entire world. This is a perfectly understandable reaction when you require someone outside of yourself to validate your worth.
It's not pathetic, it's completely understandable!
The way to begin to change this is first to recognize it. You reached out for help and that's why I know this is going to change for you.
You're ready. You don't want to live like this anymore. You don’t want to do this to yourself anymore.
Throw out everything you thought you knew about love, Liz. About relationships, and romance, and attraction and men. About dating and "getting" a man.
How you change this is by having a love affair with yourself. Let's go find Liz. This life you've been living somehow isn't you. Throw off the shoulds, the self-critical perfectionistic view you hold of yourself and find out who you are beneath the shell of this perfect persona you do so well.
How you feel about yourself needs to be your only measure of worth, not what anyone else feels or thinks about you.
Most of us play this part so well, we don't even realize it's a part. But when you take time out for you and transfer that validation where it rightfully belongs - back to you - something beautiful is going to come out of this. You.
You're already her, Liz!
Like so many of us, we just haven't discovered ourselves yet. We're still stuck in the role. We haven't emerged like the butterfly who discovers she's been a butterfly all along.
Shed the outer exterior of what you think everyone else wants you to be. If you're living your life the way it's "supposed" to look like – the way it "should" look like – and not the way the real you wants to live, you're always going to be looking for someone or something outside of you to validate yourself.
This isn't a weakness. It's you at your most vulnerable point. The point where all change happens.
Don't fight it. Embrace it. When you can accept this part of you, you're going to see just how much more of you there is that you can also accept.
And when you see that, you'll see you. And when you see you, you allow him to finally see you, too.
I so hope this helps!
What are your thoughts? Have you found yourself feeling the same way as our stunning friend Liz? How have you coped with it? Share your story with us in the comments!