Dr. Sharon Cohen | Do you really want to be in a relationship... or not | Dr. Sharon Cohen
Whether you want to be in a relationship or not isn't necessarily an easy question to answer. How do you deal with wanting intimacy and craving freedom?
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Do you really want to be in a relationship…or not?

Do you really want to be in a relationship…or not?

Whether you want to be in a relationship or not isn’t necessarily an easy question to answer.

Speaking to a woman this morning at my gym, we were talking about how some women seem to attract men to them like bees to honey while other women seem to have a more difficult time.

If you want to be in a relationship, you have to learn the flow of holding the complexity of two opposing realities at the same time: the desire for freedom and the desire for intimacy.

If you want to be in a relationship, you have to learn the flow of holding the complexity of two opposing realities at the same time: the desire for freedom and the desire for intimacy.

I made the comment that some women are more “prickly,” like a cactus. Her husband was sitting nearby and he laughed. I asked if that made sense to him and he said yes…and named some specific kind of cactus he knew.

This couple has been married for over 50 years, a testament to making a relationship work. She said it isn’t always easy. Pretty much everyone who’s been in a long-standing relationship says that, and it’s usually followed by “and it’s worth it.”

Why is it worth it?

  • You’ve got a best friend by your side.
  • You’ve got a partner with whom you’ve built a lifetime of memories, who you can laugh and retell the stories of your life with.
  • You’ve built a solid foundation of love and family to spend the rest of your days with. Someone to play golf and ski with or to garden and sit in rocking chairs holding hands with – however you choose to retire or live out the later years of your life.

But you have to want it.

You have to want to be in a relationship and not question it at all times.

Do you waver between “it’s the most important thing to me…to find my life partner, there’s nothing I want more” and “I’m not sure how I’ll do, sharing my life with someone because it’s been so long and I’m not sure I’ll like sharing my time and space and having to ‘report’ to someone?”

If so, then that’s a story you’re telling yourself. That “either – or” dialogue is going to keep you from getting what you really want.

We all struggle with holding the complexity of wanting both freedom and intimacy.

And ultimately, if you are solid in your sense of self, and in the right relationship – you work that out within the context of your relationship.

You cannot make peace with that out OUTSIDE of a relationship. You can only heal that wound IN a relationship, not outside of one.

Even those of us who LOVE being in a relationship and want to be in a relationship – men & women, extroverts & introverts, secure & insecure – have feelings of wanting freedom while wanting intimacy.

However, if you remain prickly, protecting yourself from having to have to make that decision, then you won’t have to make that decision. And that’s a decision in itself.

You won’t be in a relationship.

You’ll be alone.

Instead, if you want to be in a relationship, take a chance. Work on yourself in a new way. Believe that it’s possible to be in a relationship and feel a sense of self while in it.

You’ll finally have what you want.

A life-long companion.

And…no more love-less nights alone in bed.

  • Gladys Sharp
    Posted at 16:31h, 22 May Reply

    I just saw the movie, THE BOOK CLUB; and found it to be very enjoyable. So nice that the four friends had one another. Yes it’s good to have friends of both genders, but it would be great to have a friend with benefits of the opposite sex.

    I am a 80ish female senior in good health and find that it’s hard to find a male friend who can keep up with me. My late husband was 8 years younger than myself.

  • Gladys Sharp
    Posted at 16:35h, 22 May Reply

    Do you have advice for an attractive healthy single female senior in her 80’s?

  • admin
    Posted at 23:38h, 22 May Reply

    Gladys, nice to hear from you. As always, it’s important to keep your eyes up and open, wherever you are. I don’t know what you’re currently doing to meet men, so I’ll throw out a few ideas.

    Organized travel tours, churches sometimes have age-specific groups, as do Senior Centers…they have events that aren’t so active (mah-jongg) and others that are (yoga, pilates, sailing, pickle ball, strength training…the list goes on).

    Being proactive is important. Give a call first and ask some questions – are there classes/events/tours that are more heavily weighted with single men in your age bracket?

    I think it’s important to be open and accepting initially to someone who may not seem like a romantic match immediately. Take some time to allow the relationship to unfold in front of you.

    Who do you have in front of you? Is he a man of integrity, someone who treats you with care and kindness, and who’s a good companion and conversationalist?

    Pay attention to your non-negotiables – and yet make sure that your list isn’t a barrier for you to connect. Don’t let fear or judgment stop you from being attracted to someone who’s attracted to you. Sometimes we allow our judgment to get in the way so we don’t have to experience being vulnerable with another human being.

    If it feels like there’s no one new in the dating world – it’s just not true. New men are moving into town, new people are becoming available – emotionally or otherwise.

    Wishing you all the best in life and love!

  • Jerry Robertson
    Posted at 11:42h, 03 March Reply

    Great article and it takes hard work to make a great relationship. People who have been in a relationship for a long time still have to work to keep it going strong.

    I like your advice “Take a Chance”. Good things come to those who taking chances and don’t worry about rejection. It is their loss not yours.

    One last thing, reading Gladys comments made me smile and laugh at the same time. Good luck Gladys in finding a man who can keep up with you.

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