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Relying heavily on other people for your own happiness is never a good idea

By Nina Steele 

Women choosing not to have childrenIn a recent piece in the agony aunt section of the Guardian, a 40-year-old single woman asked for advice on dealing with being abruptly dumped by a lesbian couple she had been friends with. Their friendship was just a few months old, yet, reading her side of the story, it’s obvious that she was already deeply emotionally involved with them, to such an extent that she considered herself a part of their family. The fact that she also helped them financially, added another layer to her feelings of having been betrayed.

Her story is a typical example of why it’s never a good idea to turn any type of relationship into ‘the thing’ that’s going to make us happy. Making other people going through their own struggles, responsible for our happiness, is dangerous and usually ends in tears. For her to refer to people she had only known for a few months as family, smacks of desperation. It may sound harsh, but I should know, I was once faced with a similar situation.

In my case, it was a woman in her 30s. When I met her, she was in a relationship that was going nowhere, and deeply unhappy. Within a few months of knowing her, she was already treating me as if I was her best friend, which of course I wasn’t. She wanted me to be a part of her social circle and when she realised that our relationship was never going to be anything like she expected, her attitude changed. Overnight, I went from being her favourite person to someone she disliked with a vengeance. I never made her a promise to be her best friend, yet I was being made to pay for the fact that I was just being true to myself. It was a nightmare, and the fact that we were work colleagues made things far worse.

As time went by, it became apparent that her clinging on to people was a pattern of behaviour. Her relationship with her parents had always been a difficult one, and she was still hurting from the rejection she accused them of. And so, she viewed anyone who entered her life as a surrogate family, and woe betide those who failed to live up to her expectations.

Which brings me back to the other lady in the Guardian piece. For a 40-year-old woman to be so distraught by a friendship ending, particularly one that was just a few months old, says more about her state of mind than it does the couple she accuses of letting her down. As adults, no one is responsible for our happiness but ourselves. You cannot transfer that responsibility to others, not even a spouse.

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