In a Mark Manson AMA posted on Reddit a few years ago, two points stood out to me. Paraphrasing:
“One healthy relationship teaches more than 1000 cold approaches [walking up to random women and introducing yourself in the hopes of getting to know/date her] or 100 lays [sex with a girl, usually noted for casual encounters].”
“Getting into a relationship with an emotionally healthy woman can be one of the most healing experiences of your life and does not get enough credit in this [the PUA/MDA] community.”
When I first read this I said “Pfttt, fuck that, more girls is always better.”
A year later I said, “Oh yes, I can see how that might be the case.”
Now after expiriencing it I say, “Right fucking dead on.”
In this article, I will use myself as an example. I will talk about the beliefs and thoughts on women I had before and how they changed after dating someone who I consider extremely emotionally healthy and supportive. The article is not arguing that getting a girlfriend (or boyfriend, as this topic applies to women too) is the right thing to do and that fucking tons of people is bad. But it will make the case that consciously choosing to having a serious relationship, whether monogamous or polyamorous, can help solve a lot of your emotional hang ups and point out some of the benefits you can get.
Is It Better To Be Single, Or Have A Girlfriend or Boyfriend?
It seems that in society today, you aren’t cool unless you’re running around fucking 100 chicks or have an array of sexual conquests-going from guy to guy trying candles, BDSM, and toe licking (hey, whatever you’re into). While I don’t think anyone would deny that men in general have a higher pressure put on them for the “more is better” mindset, it affects women as well.
This is especially apparent for men in the pick-up artist (PUA) and men’s dating advice (MDA) communities. Telling a guy he can learn how to bring a girl home is going to garner more attention from him rather than saying he can get a girlfriend. Sex sells, connection doesn’t.
Having multiple sex partners throughout life is part of experimentation, exploration, and finding out what you like and don’t like. It’s perfectly healthy.
But what happens when you feel like you always need more and more? There’s an inherent unhealthy drive. It’s not “Oh I always want to meet new people”, it’s “I’m not good enough and I don’t feel loved unless I keep banging girls”.
Perhaps a different perspective is needed. Maybe it’s not quantity that should be chased.
Why Should You Care About Having A Healthy Relationship?
Many relationships are dysfunctional. Unfortunately it is a numbers game – It takes time and a different number of people to find who is good for you and what constitutes “healthy”, just like finding a good job, a good city to live in and so on. You need some bad or not so great to show you the good as a means of comparison. But once you find a good relationship, you will have a high standard for the future. You will know what proper boundaries are, you don’t blame the other person for your feelings (and don’t accept blame either), you learn to connect and empathize, and more.
Beliefs and Experiences Prior To My Relationship
My first experiences with women prior to my most recent relationship didn’t seem that great. I had two girlfriends in high school that were suicidal, and a Mom who vented a lot of her issues to me. These beliefs came to fall into place:
- Because the emotional needs of my girlfriends were much higher than mine (they were going towards killing themselves, so how can my petty needs compare?), I learned to supress my emotional needs in favour of trying to make other people happy, especially women.
- This also caused HUGE boundary issues – when a woman was upset, I assumed it was my fault or that I need to fix her.
- From my Mom, I learned that the main form of intimacy was hearing problems from a girl.
- I did not believe that women genuinely wanted sex, but that it was something that was rewarded for good behaviour.
Once I started dating women (after 5+ years of ignoring my desires for fears of intimacy and being an avoider), I still had a great deal of issues abound:
- I was afraid of expressing my sexuality.
- I didn’t think I could be direct, forward, and honest about my intentions.
- I was extremely scared to talk to people.
- I assumed if someone felt bad, sad, or if a girl didn’t like me, something was wrong with me (also from bullying), versus just her not liking me and knowing another girl would and could.
- I couldn’t stand up for myself – I didn’t know when to defend my views and actions, or actually apologize for a genuine mistake. I was afraid of getting taken advantage of.
- I didn’t feel like someone could care about me or love me as I was. I felt like I did not deserve attention, affection, or love.
- I was scared of people getting close, especially women.
- I scapegoated my high school girlfriends and Mom for my issues with women, and said “well they messed me up so what am I supposed to do”.
Over the years, through therapy, and pure exposure this has all gotten A LOT better. I mean, I actually started to go on dates with girls which was a huge improvement over rationalizing my desires for connection with the opposite sex away.
But my last relationship really shook my ground.
The Relationship Itself
While meeting in a bar randomly and going home together is a weird way to start a more serious relationship, that’s what happened. At first my thoughts were “This girl is really cool, nerdy, sweet, and sexy. I want to fuck her again and hang out, it feels good.”
But then it started to feel REALLY good. The sex got better. The connection got better. Nothing was needed except just us two. We were perfectly happy just lying next to each other.
But it was our emotional maps (similar needs in child hood missing, or similar past experiences) that really drew us together. We both suffered from anxiety, had abandonment issues, and thought the same way.
I didn’t realize how much I loved the girl until looking back after a month. She had hooked me, and I had no idea how.
But now I do.
Beliefs And Results After My Relationship
- I was consistently told by her that she loved me for the way I was, pros (work ethic, passion, good heart) and cons (anxiety, overthinking). So, while I know I’m far from perfect, I don’t feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. I don’t feel fundamentally bad as a person.
- I realized that yeah, I’m a bit anxious and overthink things… A LOT. But in the grand scheme of things, I’m pretty good :).
- This was more from seeing different girls over the past few years, but I really believe that women want and enjoy sex, and you don’t need to persuade them (or shouldn’t have to, something’s wrong otherwise).
- I can have a relationship where I don’t need to check in constantly with a person, and I should be able to have space when I ask for it.
- I accepted I was blaming my Mom and girlfriends, versus taking action and doing something about my beliefs that were hurtful or incorrect.
- I started seeing how I was focusing solely on the negative parts of my relationships with women, assuming they didn’t care about me – Even though my girlfriends and I spent hours together and mutually fooled around XD. And even though every time I was sick when I was a kid, my Mom was usually the one running to the store getting me medicine, making me toast, and checking in on me.
- I started seeing girls as really fun, and though I’m still a bit scared at times (with going in for that kiss or saying hi), they’re just people. Really, really cool and sexy people.
- I became even less “adversarial”. “Seduction is a team sport” as Manson would say. You are trying to make each other happy.
- I realized my reasons for keeping an open relationship a lot of times revolve around my fear of closeness (again, being an avoider), though there is obviously the desire to be with different girls (every guy’s got it, at least I’m honest!).
- That if I find a really good connection, I’ve got to grab it. They don’t come along often.
- I became far more self-accepting and kind to myself, as when I’d consistently complain about not being able to get as much done as I’d want to (even when things were out of my control and yet still accomplishing lots), she would re-assure me that I had done great things.
- I feel far more comfortable discussing emotional issues with women.
This was also not a one-sided deal. As I was helped with a lot of my issues, I made a point to always re-assure the girl how much I loved her for who she was, and that she didn’t need to change, which was 100% the truth. I also tried to help her through any anxious thoughts she had, and get her to open up about herself. She also said she grew a lot as a person.
While I still go back and forth between my old beliefs and new, the point is I’m in a much more positive headspace when it comes to women because of this relationship, and I am eternally grateful for it. It gives me motivation to keep on finding cool girls, and to write articles like these, so hopefully other people can see the deeper reasons why relationships can be extremely healing.
Again, this does not mean that fucking tons of people is bad, or that you NEED to be in a relationship. Just make a conscious choice, and take in this information knowing that a healthy relationship can REALLY help you in the future to have even better times with the opposite sex, and with your life in general.