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My Obsession With Finding "The One" Has to Stop

how to stop being needy

The Dream

I had a dream that I ran into my ex-boyfriend's family, and in that dream, he'd gotten married. In reality, I haven't seen or heard from that man in years and have no idea what he's up to, if he's married, or if he's even still alive. Still, in my dream when I bumped into his family, the only thing I said was "show me his wedding photo."

His uncle replied "sure! Follow us!" and our journey began. I marched behind his family as they led me through city streets, alleys, and down fire escapes until we finally arrived at a run-down "hole in the wall" bar. In the dream I was thinking to myself, gosh I'm so glad I didn't marry into this family.

When we got to the bar, I confirmed with the family "this is where the wedding was?" The uncle said yes, and I thought "I'm so glad I didn't stay with him and get married in this dump" but the journey wasn't over. We walked up several flights of stairs until we reached the top floor. The walls were ragged, and the paint chipped. The floor was uneven. There were a few card tables in the room with only three chairs underneath although they fit four; that's where his wedding took place. On the left side of the room there was a pristine-glowing glass case where his uncle stood with a look of shock over his face.He exclaimed repeatedly,"It was here! The photo was here! I swear it was!" Our journey was complete, but there was no photo.

The Epiphany

I woke up after the dream and thought "wow, that was nuts," and then "why the hell did I have a dream about HIM? I don't give a damn about his ass!" But, the dream was clearly symbolic so I thought about it for a long-hard time. It wasn't until I moved on from it a couple of weeks later that the clarity flowed.

It's true, I hadn't thought about my ex at all, but I had been thinking about and longing for months about finding my husband. The raggedness of the dream was symbolic of how I felt about that relationship with him. It was rundown, dilapidated, and busted. Elements of how I felt about his family rang true throughout.They were fine people, but I didn't know how I felt about marrying into them. I repeatedly expressed gratitude for not being with the man whose wedding photo I was painstakingly trying to see.

My desperation took me on a journey I did not enjoy, in the company of people I did not want to be with, into places I did not want to be, and to ultimately not achieve the goal I set out for. My desperation led me to him and nearly every other unfulfilling relationship I've ever been in.

My desperation took me on a journey I did not enjoy, in the company of people I did not want to be with, into places I did not want to be, and to ultimately not achieve the goal I set out for.

To clarify, I've never been outwardly needy or desperate. On the outside, I've appeared to the men I've dated as very much laid back and even more as I've gotten older. Dates are fun, and there are no expectations. If we don't click, that's fine, best of luck to you. I've been in many relationships and have been the dumper nearly every time, cutting ties and moving on swiftly. I'm by no means the image of the needy woman.

However, mentally I have always been overly preoccupied with finding "the one." My quiet desperation has been insidious. I'm realizing that a husband has served as my totem for personal success. Relationships have become my permission to feel good. What I've been emotionally doing to myself for years has led me to attract men who are equally looking for a relationship to assuage their feelings. Time after time I have dumped someone and then described them as someone who wanted me to make them feel better about themselves. "He wasn't really ready for a relationship, he just wanted someone to make him feel better about himself," I would tell friends.Truthfully, my relationships were a mirror I was unwilling to look in. I didn't feel good, I thought my husband would make me feel better, and so I made it a mental obsession to hope, pray, and change myself to find him. Unbeknownst to me,I was an exact match to the men I'd been dating. We were two people looking for someone else to be their answer, neither of us ultimately liking that result.

The Reprieve

I’m getting off the subject, and not because I want any particular result. I know the cliche is that a relationship will come along when you least expect it, but that’s not the objective. I’m letting go because I don’t want any-one aspect of my life to occupy a disproportionate amount of my time or emotion. For the first time in my adult life, I'm giving myself the mental reprieve of not wondering about relationships incessantly. No part of my life is the whole of me, not love, work, money, diet, people, or pets. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any part of my life that is intertwined with every other aspect. I need to take a break because I want to feel good but I already have so much momentum going in the wrong direct. The train has left the station, next stop "Nowheresville,"so I just need to jump off.

I'll know when I'm ready to get back out there because for once relationships will feel like an afterthought as opposed to the main course. No longer will I feel longing, but openness. I'll feel steady. I'll feel curious as opposed to determined and the journey will be more fun than the destination.

At least, I think that's how I will be. I don't know for sure, because I've never been that person.