Dear Harlan: I have friends who think they need a girlfriend to validate their existence. How can I convince them that they’re strong individuals who don’t need a relationship to feel good about themselves?
Dear Frustrated: You’re not going to win this one. I agree — we don’t need romantic relationships to validate our existence, but we are programmed to seek mates. It’s a strong pull you can’t stop. The more you push them away from having someone special in their lives, the more they will push you away. Instead of making the relationships with other people a sign of weakness or something wrong, make the focus self-love and self-care. Someone who loves himself is much better equipped to find a partner who is a complement, not a crutch. If you know you’re more than enough, a partner will just be more of a good thing. It won’t define you. Help put together meaningful experiences that give your friends life moments that will give them a deeper sense of self-worth and value. Be the one who brings new ideas into the group. Invite your friends to do things that have helped you arrive at this place. Someone who is spiritually trained has a clearer vision of what a healthy relationship should be. Give them permission to be where they are. Listen to them. Build trust. Be patient. Continue to model. When they are ready, they’ll see what you see. It can take time.