Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Real Talk With Rachel: Hard to Relate

by Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

I am a young male professional and I am currently stuck in a rut. Day to day my life is pretty monotonous, and overall I'm not a very happy person. My problem is that lately I've been very lonely. I've been single for over a year and it seems like everything I've done to meet someone new has not worked out. I've had flings here and there but nothing has been successful or made me truly happy. Clearly the fact that I need someone in my life to make me happy is a problem; however I can't seem to get over this.

I try to do things daily to make me happy, or enjoy the little things like a delicious meal or an interesting read, but my overall loneliness outweighs my day to day pleasures. I'm also lacking long-term passions and goals, aside from creating and providing for a loving family. All of this could even explain why I'm having trouble meeting people in the first place, which makes me feel like not only am I stuck in a rut, but possibly a vicious cycle. How can I break free?

Spinning My Wheels

Dear Spinning My Wheels,

I'm not going to tell you to forget about finding someone. It's just not realistic advice. Moreover, there's nothing wrong with wanting to have a partner in life, crime and cuddling. You seem especially interested, because you've got building a family on the brain.

Perhaps, though, all of these machinations for the future have become obvious in a way that is complicating your present. People can sense when you want more than you're letting on. As you meet women in bars or doing activities, try not to immediately imagine whether they'd make a good girlfriend or wife or mother. That could be a huge turn-off. Enjoy the moment. Meet people and try to get to know them as they are now, not how they might fit into your future family portrait.

You write about loneliness but you don't mention friends in your letter. Friends can really help stave off loneliness. Perhaps many of your friends have already paired off, or they're busy, but try and make time to cultivate the relationships you already have.

I like how you already try to savor what you have - delicious meals and thought-provoking books. If these pleasures had a sense of building, they could offer you more lasting satisfaction. Think about what makes a relationship special. It's the shared commitment towards building something unique. While a relationship is a good way to construct something new and special, it's only one potential component of a satisfying life. You don't have as much control over this, though, as a commitment to a hobby or a group. So in the interim build towards becoming a better cook, if that's something you enjoy doing.

When a relationship does happen for you (and don't despair, it will -- after all, you've only been single for a year, despite how interminable it may feel), you and your love will both be grateful for your diverse interests and abilities. And think of what a better dad it will make you! It's an opportunity to make your future better as much as a way to find current fulfillment.

Your letter makes it sound like you're not sure what, precisely, you'd like to build on. That's part of the whole rut. And I know that feeling -- it IS self-perpetuating. You feel dissatisfied and so nothing satisfies. You've got to find a way to break out! Your letter to me shows that you badly want to do so. If somebody asked you the question, "What's exciting you these days?" what would your dream answer be? Let that ideal guide you as you seek new challenges.

Remember -- you aren't going to just end up with a new skill or interest by happenstance. It involves dedication and hard work. Perhaps you feel like a girlfriend would be an easy solution to your lethargy. You'd be wrong. Good relationships, just like good hobbies, require dedication and hard work. You're not going to suddenly wake up one morning and be happy. Each day, you can make small decisions that will influence your state of mind. Make them count.

All the best,


Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a news producer. Real Talk with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv,, on Wednesdays. Need advice? You can write to Rachel via or at advice @ 

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