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You have to be at a certain point in your life to have a successful relationship. There are countless factors that can get in the way of your romantic life taking off. Work. Mental state. Other relationships. There’s a lot.

Given this, it’s easy to get in your own way and hold yourself back when it comes to dating. Say you’re into someone, but you’re putting in countless hours at work. You decide to prioritize your job for a bit longer. You’re nearing that new promotion after all, so, in the long run, you’ll be much better off if you stick with your work and put your relationship on hold for a bit. You don’t want to half-ass the relationship and work, so you focus on work. Unfortunately, now you’ve missed out on that relationship and it probably won’t be around when you decide to make time.

Stress and anxiety are also familiar friends to those who find that they are their own biggest obstacle in dating. Sure you want to schedule a time to hang out with that person you’ve been crushing on, but then you’d have to make a move. What if they don’t feel the same way? What if they don’t want to hang out? What if you make a fool of yourself? Sure, there’s a small possibility that it may go the way you want, but realistically it probably won’t. You planned what you wanted to say, but at the last moment you decided not to. You’ll ask them out tomorrow. Then tomorrow gets here, so you push it off to the next day. The next thing you know, it’s more than a month later. Now you really can’t do it. It’s been too long. You’ve fucking done it again; you let your anxiety keep you from pursuing that relationship.

Maybe it’s not anxiety, but other relationships. You definitely like person A and you kind of like person B. Person B shows some interest in you. Sure you’re attracted to them, but it’s hard to give them the time of the day when it’s really someone else who you’re into. Would you be happy with person B? Most likely. You do like them, but you’re still left pining after someone who is definitely out of your league. You know person A won’t ever date you – they’re too fucking cool for that, so why are you still holding on to the impossible hope that they’ll notice you some day? There you go again, ruining the chance you had at a functional relationship.

Even worse, what if you like someone but your friends don’t. You know they’re a good person, but your bestie doesn’t like them for whatever reason. Now what? Do you keep going with your relationship or do you stop it because you can’t not think about whatever concern your friend expressed. Now you keep looking for signs that the person you’re seeing might be weird or nerdy. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a character flaw, the chances are you’ll find one. It may not be a big deal, but if you know your friend noticed, it’ll be all you can pay attention to.

I guess what it comes down to is this: pick your priorities and stick with them as long as you need to. Maybe you’re acting as an obstacle for relationships, but that’s okay if you knowingly want to concentrate on something else. You don’t need to be working on developing a long-term relationship, so long as you’re happy with whatever (or whomever) you’re doing. That means that you’re doing your life right.

Author: Dani Howell

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