“I’m perfectly fine on my own.”
“Relationships just make life more complicated.”
“Being single is so much better.”
“What do I need a partner for? I can do everything on my own.”
If you’ve ever heard anybody say something along these lines, they have likely fallen into a very misguided and damaging pattern I call hyper-independence; a pattern that has obliterated their dating lives and, if you get involved with them, will ruin yours.
Hyper-independence is the result of emotional damage from broken trust. Essentially, a person has had their heart broken several times and then, as an overcorrection, they decry all relationships and pretend they are perfectly fine on their own. They become resentful of relationships and obsessed with their own independence, using it as a way to push away opportunities for love and connection. It is a painful, resigned, lonely position to be in; not one I envy and not one I make light of. But it is a lie. The whole concept is a myth.
When somebody says to you that they don’t need anybody and they “really value their independence,” what they’re really saying to you is: Even though I so desperately want to, I’m terrified to get close to somebody because I’ve been let down in the past.
Yes, that is correct. Even the most independent, self-sufficient, relationship-phobic people you know desperately desire love and connection. Don’t believe them when they tell you otherwise. They want and need someone. So do I, so do you, so do we all.
Evolutionarily, human beings are born and bred to form two major attachments: first to our mother/father, and next to our romantic partner. We cannot outsmart our evolutionary development. In other words, finding and securely attaching to a life-partner is not optional for our wellbeing; it is absolutely critical for our physical/emotional health, happiness, and even length of life. Year after year, the data confirms this information.
But the worst part about hyper-independence is not that it is a lie; the worst part is that it is a choice.
Of course, we didn’t choose to have our trust broken. We didn’t choose for someone to tear up our lives like a hurricane ripping through a city. But it is a choice to capitulate to our sadness and stay broken. It is a choice not to clean up the wreckage after the hurricane is gone.
If it is a choice, then the good news is that hyper-independence is a solvable problem. It doesn’t have to be a self-fulfilling prophecy of forever-aloneness. But it begins with honesty: it begins with the acknowledgement that although you have taught yourself how to be OK on your own, you don’t want to be just OK anymore. You want to thrive. And you don’t want to be alone anymore. In your heart, like everyone else, you want and need love.
Smooth out the hardened edge that developed as a result of being hurt, and begin to trust that you and your next partner will be able to depend on each other in a healthy and consistent way. Soften yourself. Believe.
And trust this: if you go into situations anticipating that you’ll be let down and abandoned, regretting steps you haven’t even taken yet, then that is likely what you will experience. But if you anticipate being seen and held, open your heart, and (most importantly) choose wisely, then there is no end to the amount of consistent and trustworthy love that is waiting for you.
Take the leap of faith, for there is no other option.
Kevin from the Keys Team
Professional Dating & Relationship Coach