I want to get married, but I like being on my own

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a guy in his 30s who works for a company. I’ve never been good at socializing, and don’t have many friends. While I’ve always had hopes of getting married someday, I could never find a girlfriend.

Since last year, I dated a woman I met through a local government marriage support service, but she broke up with me. I thought the relationship was going well, so it came as quite a shock.

However, more shocking to me was the fact that I found I felt more comfortable being by myself. We had mutual interests, she was easy to talk to and, of course, I liked her, so I really liked it when we met.

Even so, now it’s such a relief when I think about how I no longer have to plan our dates ahead of time. No more thinking about what clothes to wear or going out to buy something new. No more waking up early on the day of the date.

I want to find that “someone” I can be with, but I also want to be by myself. Having such contradictory feelings, what should I do?

—D, Ibaraki Prefecture

Dear Mr. D:

You’re suffering from a conflict between the antisocial you who feels more at ease alone and the you who harbors a desire to someday marry. This might be a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.

But actually, if you think about it, there are aspects of both that are to your benefit. Let’s say you get dumped and never get married, then you have the possibility of living comfortably by yourself. If you do wind up getting married, you could end up in a wonderful relationship.

So in that case, why not try dating from the stance that it’s a win-win situation? I’m just speculating here, but could it be that your desire to get married is stronger than you realize? You quite often used the word “like,” as when you said, “I liked her, so I really liked it when we met.” Your enthusiasm is overwhelming.

I get the feeling, however, that in the case of your former girlfriend, you did not directly convey those feelings of affection to her. Words of affection are the keys to winning a women’s heart.

If you forget this point, it won’t matter how fascinating your talks about mutual interests are, it will be strike three without even swinging.

If that’s why things didn’t work out this time, reflect on that and make use of what you learned with the next one. Of course, this is only when there are sparks between the two of you.

—Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist