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Marsa

How do you stop being overly self-reliant and start learning to actually rely on other people?

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Marsa

I've always been quite self reliant since childhood, and as a young adult was I very content and proud of that, but I'm starting to realize it is not all it is cracked up to be as it is a lonely life. I have friends, but I generally am not super close to anyone, not even family. While, I am happy I can work through my problems on my own, it almost has become a tiresome burden to always do this alone, and I think the process would actually be quicker and more effective if I could open up and rely on others to comfort me and help me through my issues. I have improved somewhat, but it is so hard to break that habit of always being "good" when anyone asks. Also, people tend to stop asking if they think they never have to worry about you, and I am horrible at reaching out if I need it.

 

I think it is partly my personality and partly my upbringing. I grew up the youngest in a big family where my parents worked a lot, and everyone else's problems just seemed so much more important and real than mine so I never wanted to bother anyone with my own. Looking back on this, it is ridiculous to think my own parents wouldn't have wanted me to come forward with my own issues just because in my mind they seemed trivial, and that I shouldn't have seen myself as less important. But regardless I learned to not trust others to be there for me and deal with my own shit rather than seek out comfort, and I think this has been part of the reason I have always been scared of romantic relationships. 

 

The most terrifying thing to me is to actually be reliant on another person, which is kind of a required part of a functional romantic relationship. I have this fear that I will somehow lose all my independence and ability to deal with my own issues if I suddenly start letting someone else help me. And if they leave for whatever reason, then I feel like I'll just be a broken human with no ability to deal with life anymore. It is definitely a little irrational, but very much ingrained in me. I have decided I would really like to have a close and meaningful romantic relationship and even closer friendships, but it seems impossible to get there without being able to open up to people. 

 

If anyone else has struggled with this, I would love to know any strategies or thoughts on how to break long old habits of not trusting and total self-reliance. Thanks ☺️

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ThePoint

I'm in the same boat, except the more I try to rely on others, the more I come to realise that they don't understand me and I wish to isolate myself instead.

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PanFicto.

I don't think relying on other people is nearly as good as it sounds when you see it in movies and read about it in books. I'm almost 32, and have found consistently that whenever you attempt to rely on someone else you're likely to be let down in some way which leaves you 1) having to deal with the situation yourself anyway and 2) in a more difficult situation than you would have been in if you'd just dealt with it yourself in the first place. I'm not trying to be negative here, I just have genuinely found that other people often have their own pressing issues that they're trying to deal with and those will always come first, so even if they're genuinely keen on helping you, something more relevant to their own situation may come up and they have to bail to deal with their own stuff. Heck sometimes they'll even just forget or bow out for no reason. Because of all this, I recommend not getting into the habit of relying on other people. Try to be as self-sufficient as possible so you won't get let down by other people failing you!!

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KrysLostInSpace
19 minutes ago, PanFicto. said:

Because of all this, I recommend not getting into the habit of relying on other people. Try to be as self-sufficient as possible so you won't get let down by other people failing you!!

Basically be smart. However, at the end of the day, there's always the risk some cannot catch you or will fail you. That's the price of love and relationships. There's a balance to keep between being self-reliant and close with others. People fail to realize though, even when you're relying on another person, you still have your own burden. They just lighten the load. You both work together to solve the problem. You deserve close relationships with people. Remember that.

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Philip027

Being naturally incapable and dependent, like me, helps.

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WoodwindWhistler

I'm gonna assume you mean only emotionally, and not physically. 

TBH, I think self-reliance is a skill that everyone should be working towards, so I'm puzzled as to why someone would want to work in the opposite direction. Whenever I try to talk myself into being social, it is more for the benefit of others than myself, as I think I could be a good friend to them. 

Now, I do not 'lie' when people ask me how I am- if I am horrible, I say so. If I am not so great, I say so. If I'm making it barely, I say so. 
 

"which is kind of a required part of a functional romantic relationship"

IDK, my boyfriend and I are both pretty independent. He hadn't been in a relationship for years before me. And I'm aromantic. So, it all depends. If you want another person who is reasonably independent like yourself, then look for one!
"I have this fear that I will somehow lose all my independence and ability to deal with my own issues if I suddenly start letting someone else help me. And if they leave for whatever reason, then I feel like I'll just be a broken human with no ability to deal with life anymore."

 

You don't forget how to ride a bike after not doing it for years, and I'm fairly confident you will not forget how to work through emotions, either. 

"I have decided I would really like to have a close and meaningful romantic relationship and even closer friendships, but it seems impossible to get there without being able to open up to people."

See, to me, these things are totally NOT mutually exclusive. I am a VERY open person. When asked. But I am not dependent on anyone whatsoever. So maybe you need to do some contemplating on why you think these things are opposites, when they actually aren't. 

 

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Marsa
2 hours ago, PanFicto. said:

I don't think relying on other people is nearly as good as it sounds when you see it in movies and read about it in books. I'm almost 32, and have found consistently that whenever you attempt to rely on someone else you're likely to be let down in some way which leaves you 1) having to deal with the situation yourself anyway and 2) in a more difficult situation than you would have been in if you'd just dealt with it yourself in the first place. I'm not trying to be negative here, I just have genuinely found that other people often have their own pressing issues that they're trying to deal with and those will always come first, so even if they're genuinely keen on helping you, something more relevant to their own situation may come up and they have to bail to deal with their own stuff. Heck sometimes they'll even just forget or bow out for no reason. Because of all this, I recommend not getting into the habit of relying on other people. Try to be as self-sufficient as possible so you won't get let down by other people failing you!!

I suppose there is always potentially something that can get in the way of support from a friend and/or partner. I don't think I have ever been anyone's first priority in their life, and I guess I would just like to have a sense that I do have someone that would be able to put me first (not necessarily above their own needs but above others in their life). But maybe that is just naive thinking and not truly possible. Don't you get tired of it though? I see people around me with great relationships with their friends and partners who seem to always be there for each other, but this is an outsider view which can probably often look rosier than reality. I just want a little bit of that, but somehow feel incapable. 

 

2 hours ago, KrysLostInSpace said:

Basically be smart. However, at the end of the day, there's always the risk some cannot catch you or will fail you. That's the price of love and relationships. There's a balance to keep between being self-reliant and close with others. People fail to realize though, even when you're relying on another person, you still have your own burden. They just lighten the load. You both work together to solve the problem. You deserve close relationships with people. Remember that.

This does sound like the key to me. I guess just because I'm not used to it I have no idea where that balance point lies and it will take some time and effort to actually figure that out. And thanks ☺️

 

1 hour ago, WoodwindWhistler said:

"I have this fear that I will somehow lose all my independence and ability to deal with my own issues if I suddenly start letting someone else help me. And if they leave for whatever reason, then I feel like I'll just be a broken human with no ability to deal with life anymore."

 

You don't forget how to ride a bike after not doing it for years, and I'm fairly confident you will not forget how to work through emotions, either. 

"I have decided I would really like to have a close and meaningful romantic relationship and even closer friendships, but it seems impossible to get there without being able to open up to people."

See, to me, these things are totally NOT mutually exclusive. I am a VERY open person. When asked. But I am not dependent on anyone whatsoever. So maybe you need to do some contemplating on why you think these things are opposites, when they actually aren't. 

 

Yeah, I know it is a little irrational thinking haha, I think it is partly because I see people who seemed previously fairly independent get into relationships and just can't seem to function outside of them anymore. But I'm sure there is probably more going on there than I am aware of. I guess if I think about it like my creature comforts in life like a toilet and hot shower, I really like them, and definitely miss them when they are gone, but I am still totally capable of shitting in the woods and bathing in a river haha. 

 

And yes, I think my ability to be open and reliant on others are not necessarily mutually exclusive. But I always feel as soon as I open up with my real emotions then that invites people to see my weaknesses and potentially help me with them (which opens me up to relying on them for support) or hurt me with them, so it feels safer to keep quiet and deal silently. 

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KrysLostInSpace
38 minutes ago, Marsa said:

This does sound like the key to me. I guess just because I'm not used to it I have no idea where that balance point lies and it will take some time and effort to actually figure that out. And thanks.

Much of it is instinctual and knowing your limits. It's measuring the other person's past actions and current mental state as well. To know whether or not they can handle the burden and see it through. Yes, things come up for other people, but there are also instances where just someone being there can save your life. I should know. It will take time and effort too though as well. It's finicky for sure because that balance isn't set in stone. I'll come back when I have more advice lol.

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PanFicto.
2 hours ago, Marsa said:

Don't you get tired of it though?

I think I'm far more tired of being let down and even betrayed by people I thought I could trust. Of course I do agree it would be lovely to have someone in my life who would put my needs first, or at least, always have my back (that's exactly how I would am when in a relationship, so there must be other people like that too), but I've let my guard down too many times, let someone in, only to be brutally backstabbed and/or discarded eventually. For me anyway, it's just not worth the risk of trusting someone ever again.

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ThePoint
10 hours ago, PanFicto. said:

I think I'm far more tired of being let down and even betrayed by people I thought I could trust. Of course I do agree it would be lovely to have someone in my life who would put my needs first, or at least, always have my back (that's exactly how I would am when in a relationship, so there must be other people like that too), but I've let my guard down too many times, let someone in, only to be brutally backstabbed and/or discarded eventually. For me anyway, it's just not worth the risk of trusting someone ever again.

I understand that very well and perhaps that's partly why I am not very trustful or hopeful in relationships. I do (irrationally) believe, however, that there must be a person or people who will not betray me and I hope to find them. The problem is, everyone appears that way at the beginning, and so I think trust needs just a lot of time to build. We need time to test the waters and get to know the other person well enough to tell if they will betray us or not.

 

Aaand it sucks. Because if time is the only way to measure someone's trustworthiness, then we're likely to waste a lot of our most precious resource on testing people before we find the right person/people, if ever. Or, maybe, just maybe, we can accumulate a long time's worth of experience in a short time, if we put ourselves out there and become more vulnerable towards other people. The more we open ourselves and let our guards down - the more opportunities we create for others to betray us - the sooner we can see their true nature. Maybe. And if so, we risk being hurt a lot, but this will help us find the right people more quickly. Assuming that they exist in the first place.

 

And that leads me to thinking, well, maybe they don't, and what now? I don't know, but all the motivation to pursue a relationship withers, leading back to the point, where I see all current and potential relationships as likely pointless, thus strenghtening my will to maintain full independence.

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Fumi

@Marsa, @ThePoint, I grew up being pretty self-reliant, as well.  I also saw leaning on others in any capacity--accepting help of any kind--as weakness.  To me, it was less about fearing that I'd become inept.  It was more about a constant drive to perfection.  A constant internal insistence that, as good as I am now, I need to become even better.  And, I also experienced betrayal.  I completely understand the fear of being hurt.  The feeling of being able to trust someone is wonderful and powerful.  Having that feeling taken away is equally painful and frightening.  The fear of experiencing that pain again makes trusting very hard.

 

I'm afraid I don't have a perfect answer for either of you, regarding the question of, "How do I trust more?"

 

I say "trust" because reliance is ultimately about trust.  In its purest form, it's not about laziness, but about feeling secure in another person's sincerity toward you.  Relying on someone to handle X for you isn't just about you being unable to do it for yourself right now; it's about trusting that the person will actually do it, like they indicate they will.  This becomes especially more apparent in situations where you absolutely can handle X by yourself.  In these situations, by someone else handling X for you, they're demonstrating a genuine desire and willingness to make your life easier (and, by extension, more fulfilled).  You can handle it by yourself, but you don't need to because they care enough about you to want to handle it for you.  Or at least, that's how the feelings of trust and dependability allow you to feel.

 

@Marsa, if you haven't any previous experiences with broken trust, the best question to ask yourself is, "What's the point in doing everything myself?  What do I gain from doing things the same way I always have?  What could I stand to gain by doing something different?"  As @WoodwindWhistler said, your ability to handle yourself is much like riding a bike.  You won't lose the ability to do it just by occasionally accepting someone else's help.  In fact, you could be enriching your life considerably from a productivity standpoint, alone.  You've already cultivated a personality that enables you to be independent.  Logically, you probably aren't going to be able to strengthen that part of you any further because it's already so ingrained with who you are.  Conversely, you have likely neglected some other areas of development while trying to be so independent... such as comfort with trust or emotional intimacy.  Since you've expressed a desire for more intimate relationships--and since those areas are kind of vital to achieving what you desire--the natural next step would be to work on them.  Pain is an unavoidable part of life, though, particularly when your life involves great happiness.  It's entirely possible that someone might break your trust.  If it happens: it won't be the end of the world.  It will take time to recover.  But, you've already learned how to take care of yourself.  And that alone will get you through half of it.

 

@ThePoint, since you've had plenty of experiences with broken trust, the best insight I can give you is to develop a strong drive for communication.  Sometimes, broken trust comes from (poorly / un)communicated expectations.  In that regard, becoming comfortable with expressing yourself clearly will help prevent these disappointments.  A lot of times, though, broken trust comes from dishonesty.  Believe it or not, communication helps a lot here, as well.  Insist that the people around you become comfortable with being open and honest with you.  Engage them as much as you can.  I say these things because lying consistently is hard.  The more dishonest one is, the less honest they can be in their communication without exposing themselves.  The more a dishonest person has to communicate, the more often they will have to lie.  And, as many in my circle know: the best lies are the lies that never have to be told.  In other words, the more often someone has to tell a lie... the more likely they are to mess up somehow.  The hardest part of using communication to protect yourself from dishonesty is keeping your emotions in check, and learning not to jump to conclusions.  What might seem like an attempt at deceit might actually be a simple misunderstanding.  And telling the difference between the two can be especially difficult when you've had a number of bad experiences that urge you to label something deceit.

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