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Asking for a friend: ‘I’ve just had a break-up after four years and don’t like being single. Are my friends right that it’s too soon to start dating?’

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'Your friends may be able to spot patterns and behaviour that can be difficult to identify when you are wrapped up in romance'

'Your friends may be able to spot patterns and behaviour that can be difficult to identify when you are wrapped up in romance'

'Your friends may be able to spot patterns and behaviour that can be difficult to identify when you are wrapped up in romance'

Q: I recently broke up with my partner of almost four years, and while it wasn’t a difficult break-up, I feel a bit worried about getting back out there in the dating pool. Some of my friends told me to wait a while, but I don’t really like being single. I have usually been in monogamous relationships for most of my adult life, and I like to be coupled up . I don’t get why they are judging me as it’s my life and my relationships. I’m not planning to get back into a relationship straight away, but I do want to not leave it too long. I hate being by myself and want to share life with someone, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’ve had a whole mixture of relationships, and some have been amazing, but the ones that weren’t great didn’t go on for too long. It’s annoyed me that my friends have said this, but it has made me think a little more about what they could mean. I don’t know how to ask them as we don’t really talk about this kind of stuff, so how do I start this chat with them?

Dr West replies: Sometimes, a great way to get over a person is to get under another. It works for some and is a disaster for others. You might not know which way it will result for you until afterwards. It can bring closure, or a whole range of other emotions to have to tackle. It may also be considered unethical by some people — you’re using other people to soothe your emotional pain. This objectification of the other person as a tool to meet your needs rather than it being an enthusiastic encounter because you like them for who they are is treating sex as a Band-Aid. Often, we use sex to connect with another person, but what we are really looking for is emotional intimacy. It’s hard to admit that sometimes, as it means showing vulnerability, whereas with sex, we can put on an act, fake it, and run through it as if we rehearsed our moves. Touch that can give us comfort but isn’t sexual is often called platonic touch and involves hugs, cuddles, hand-holding etc. It’s both weird and sad that, in our society, it’s harder to ask for this than it is to ask for sex.


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