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I have trouble being alone

‘I dated the same girl four separate times’

Love Letters

Love Letters

Q. I really struggle with being alone. That’s not to say I can’t handle doing things by myself — I have hobbies, work multiple jobs, and am a full-time student (I’m 21 and graduate in May, although I’m considering grad school). I can entertain myself in the short term.

However, in the long term I struggle with being single. In the past, this has led me to rekindle relationships. I dated the same girl four separate times. This problem leads me to get way too invested in people I meet, either in real life or on apps. When things don’t work out (college relationships tend not to), it leaves me miserable.


I’m fully aware of how unhealthy this is for me, but I can’t break the cycle. I’ve been a part of different clubs, and I would consider myself active on campus, so it’s not a matter of not doing enough. I have close friends, and I spend time with them frequently, but at the end of the day everyone goes home to significant others, and I go home by myself. Not surprisingly, this eats at me. My question isn’t necessarily how do I find another relationship (although that’s important too), but rather how do I stop myself from falling into these cycles? Do I have to install parental locks to get myself off Tinder? Help.


A. If you’re not seeing a therapist or counselor at school, consider trying. Therapy can help you figure out why your mind wanders to specific places when you’re alone.

If you worry that your Tinder activity has become compulsive behavior, talk about that too. Better to start the process before you graduate, when assistance is right on campus. Why not use every college service while it’s still available?

It’s great you’re single right now because you need some space for self-discovery, and also because you’re graduating in May. For now, shelve the worry about how you’ll find another relationship. That will happen eventually; many people will be looking for company after graduation. Now’s the time to learn how to be alone.


Part of this is figuring out how to sit still — and I think that’s a huge challenge for someone like you. You’re moving so fast right now with jobs, hobbies, and plans for grad school. Some of your unrest might be a fear of, well, rest.

Instead of moving to the next item on the to-do list (finding a partner), try to break the cycle and shift your attention to something new. Listen to a podcast (it does not have to be the “Love Letters” podcast, but my all means, enjoy). Watch a show. Read. See if you can just be for a half hour at a time. Then an hour.

Also, yes, if you can’t stop using an app, setting a timer on it — or hiding it — is actually a good thing, even for adults.

Know that the friends going home to significant others might be wondering what their commitment means at 21. Everyone is tying to figure out whether they’re doing things right. You’re not alone in that.



What cycle is there to break? I think its normal to get invested in people and it hurts when your relationship ends.



You, my friend, are a victim of social media. You see your friends’ perfect lives and think they’re going home to significant others, but in reality they’re going home to their college roommates or to their parents’ houses. You see their perfect little worlds online and think you’re somehow less than they are. You’re not. You’re just like them; they’re just not publishing that side of them.


To be serious for a second, sometimes the most social people are actually the loneliest. It’s good that you recognize this, and you should talk with a professional about these feelings.


Send your own relationship and dating questions to loveletters@globe.com or fill out this form. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.

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