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Why I No Longer Depend on Anyone Else for Happiness, Fun, or Excitement

“Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.” ~Unknown

It was Saturday night. I sat, at my breakfast bar in my apartment, alone and in semi-darkness. Only one small lamp was turned on in the corner.

I was fuming, confused, and most of all, sad. I sprang off the breakfast barstool and began to pace. There were so many emotions circling around in me I had to keep moving in an effort to release them.

I spun around and looked at the clock above my kitchen—it was almost 7pm! He had said he was going to be there by 6pm.

Why was he not there? Did he not know I was depending on him? Didn’t he know I had planned my schedule to be there in time to hang out?

I didn’t have any other plans and felt stuck waiting in limbo. Where was he? I felt the emotions rising toward my throat as they bubbled up and threatened to explode.

I picked up my phone and called my boyfriend, trembling with frustration as the phone rang. He picked up on the third ring.

I had been waiting to hang out with him after work all day. I had imagined us meeting on time at 6pm and having a great evening together.

In my head, I had imagined us going out for a bite to eat and then maybe catching a new movie at the theatre or going to a comedy club. My day had been uneventful and boring, and I was looking forward to having an exciting evening.

I had planned and expected and prepared perfectly, and he was ruining it again! Like so many nights in the past, his job had kept him late and he was not there for me when I needed him.

“Where are you?” I barked in his ear as soon as he picked up the phone. “I’ve been waiting. I’m here at my apartment waiting to hang out with you, and you’re not here. I’ve been looking forward to hanging out all day!”

He seemed taken aback by my anger, and he fumbled for an answer to soothe me. He explained that work had kept him late and he was on his way back. He apologized for not updating me on his arrival time and assured me that he would be there soon. I spat out an “Okay, whatever,” and hung up angrily.

And there it was—the usual start to our weekends together. I slumped down in a kitchen chair realizing I had done it again. What was wrong with me?

My boyfriend worked a lot. Almost ten-hour days when you added it all up. And he worked Saturdays too. Still, I always seemed to depend on him to bring some excitement and joy to my monotonous days.

Every Saturday would start the same: I would feel like I had been bored and waiting all week to have time together and do something fun, and he would usually arrive late or tired after work and I’d be crushed and irritated. I would then fire off some hurtful words that would give a sour taste to our weekends together right from the start.

It was a vicious cycle. And I never understood why I was so dependent on my boyfriend and why I felt so abandoned and hurt if we were not able to hang out exactly when or how I wanted.

It wouldn’t be until several weeks later that the cure to this vicious cycle came to me and the person to blame became clear.

One Saturday night my boyfriend decided to go out with one of his close guy friends instead of hanging out with me. Immediately the abandonment and lonely bells started to sound off noisily in my head. I felt the anger rising in me, and I spent the next day simultaneously fuming and hurt.

But the following day when my boyfriend and I sat down to talk about it, I started to realize something: While he could make an effort to text or call me if he was going to be late in the future, the real issue was not with my boyfriend. The problem was me.

It took a few days of serious introspection, but I finally realized that I depended on my boyfriend for my happiness. I expected him to always be there emotionally and physically, to handle any issue I was going through.

I unknowingly expected him to tackle any kind of emotional turmoil in my head, and to be there to take me out and show me a good time whenever was convenient for me, regardless of his schedule.

In fact, if he didn’t do these things perfectly and at my convenience, I felt hurt and abandoned and lashed out. I saw it as a sign that he did not love me and did not care about our relationship.

It was hard to admit, but having a boyfriend had allowed me to use another person as a crutch. I expected him to be perfect and give me all the things I was not providing for myself—emotional release, a social life, and validation.

It became clear to me that I had put an unfair burden on him. I knew our relationship would not survive if I did not make a change.

Here are the top three things I realized during that time (insights that can apply in romantic or platonic relationships):

1. Expecting someone else to make me happy is objectifying them.

In a sense, my boyfriend was a tool for my happiness. I had placed an enormous amount of pressure on him to perfectly handle all my difficulties and supply all the things that were missing in my life.

But only I have the right toolbox that can “fix” what isn’t working. My boyfriend is not a tool. He is a whole person with his own emotions, struggles, goals, hopes, and dreams. Reducing him to a tool for my happiness is objectification, and it limits the growth and deepening of our relationship.

It is unfair to expect someone to help you become a whole person. More importantly, we already have everything we need within us to live our best life; we do not have to look outside ourselves or to anyone else.

This relationship has taught me many lessons, but perhaps the biggest one is that I cannot wait around for anyone else to bring happiness and excitement to my life. I have to go out there and create it! I also cannot expect one person alone to take my loneliness away.

2. I alone am responsible for my happiness and excitement in life.

Because I work from home and lack coworkers and social interaction, I am susceptible to feeling isolated. There were so many days when I would count on my boyfriend to come pick me up, take me out, or invite me to a fun event. If this did not happen, I would feel unhappy and angry. But really, I should never depend on someone else to bring me excitement, joy, or happiness. That is my responsibility!

I eventually realized that instead of depending on my boyfriend to fill a void in my life, I had to start taking accountability and doing it for myself.

From then onward, I started reconnecting with old friends and going out more. I said yes to different activities and invitations. Creative events like painting, spoken word, and concerts make me happy, so I now make a point to do these things with or without my boyfriend.

Having my own friends outside of my romantic relationship—my own interests, my own invitations, and my own plans—keeps me feeling whole. It also reminds me that I have to take charge of my day, my emotions, and my social life.

I started getting out of my comfort zone and outside of the overly introverted bubble that kept me so lonely all the time. Now that I have reconnected with and strengthened my relationship with my own circle of friends, I no longer put pressure on my boyfriend.

I now know that even if he has to cancel plans or he chooses to hang with another friend, it does not make or break my day. I have my own support group and circle of friends to hang out with, and I can bring excitement to my own life.

3. You can reclaim your power.

If you’re like me, you are probably in the habit of placing your power in others’ hands. You may think thoughts along the lines of:

If he doesn’t text me today, I’m going to be crushed

If she doesn’t go to this event with me tonight, I’m going to be so disappointed and I’m just not going to go at all.

If they don’t invite me to the party on Friday, my night will be ruined!

I used to say these kinds of things often, and still have to fight against this kind of thinking. In all of these statements, I am letting someone else’s actions control my own mood and happiness. I am letting the actions of others affect what I choose to do.

Oftentimes, if my boyfriend and I went the day without talking, I would let it ruin my entire day. I didn’t even try to find things that I liked to do to spice up my day, or hang out with friends, or do something exciting. I just wallowed in my pity and irritation. I allowed his actions to control me. I gave my power to him.

I would also depend on my boyfriend to go to events with me. If he was not able to make it because of his job or an emergency, I wouldn’t go at all (even if I had been looking forward to it). Then, because I felt like I had missed out, I would be mad and disappointed with him.

That is releasing my power into his hands. Now, even though I can be quiet and sometimes nervous about new social situations, I will make a point to still go to an event even if my friends or boyfriend cannot make it. As my mother used to say, “Don’t let one monkey stop your show.”

Do you put your power in other people’s hands? Will someone canceling plans or doing something unexpected wreck your day, or will you empower yourself to create your own happiness?

Even if someone changes plans or cannot go to a fun event with you, if it will bring you happiness, go anyway! Do not allow the actions of others to control your actions or emotions. Reclaim your power.

I am working to create a tighter circle of friends, and I understand clearly that I cannot depend solely on my boyfriend (or any other person for that matter) for my happiness and social life. Our relationship will not survive if I do not learn to take responsibility for my happiness and stop waiting around for one person.

This had been a hard lesson for me, but it is one that I chose to act on every week, and I will continue to work on it because the journey to empowerment and happiness is a lifelong one.

About Matana Williams

Matana Williams is an aspiring writer, poet, spoken word artist, and lover of creativity. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia where she is working on finding her slice of happiness in life. Stay tuned for her first romance novel in early 2019. You can connect with her at Matana.williams@gmail.com and discover her writing at pinkflamboyance.wordpress.com.

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  • Matana, I feel like you hit a major subject that many young women struggle with. I’ve been married over 30 years so I found my way to entertaining myself and taking responsibility in being my source of excitement and happiness. Even though the generation I grew up in, where women seemed to be available for their husbands every need, this current generation seems to do the same thing. They wait for a man to entertain them or make decisions for them. Is it the fairy tale movies that encourage the perfect romantic relationship, which doesn’t exist in reality? Somehow my adult girls went through the exact thing you described. I would tell them that they need to do things with their friends, spend time doing things they enjoy. One time I read that a women is more attractive to a man if she isn’t dependent on him to be happy. That seemed to help me to find things I love to do so I’m not totally dependent on my husband. I think all women struggle with taking time for themselves instead of creating a perfect home, meals, or waiting for their man. But we deserve more!

  • mike

    totally agree with this … I had this issue with my previous GF. She wanted to spend all her time with me, but I also had a life outside of the relationship, and a relatively important career. I think that combined with the distance of a an hour or so drive meant things were usually planned for weekends, but the same time … you work monday to friday, so weekends can be booked out. I have learnt to have a bit more give my end, but I do think its so important for both people in a relationship to be whole without the other person. Then that pressure isnt there. Where as if you need someone else to fill gaps for you, you are going to chase it.

  • Amy

    Wow! What an awesome essay. I see myself totally in what you”ve written. I really need to take a hold of how I view my life and the people in it. Thank you, Matan

  • MJ

    Providing ourselves with all the validation we need is mandatory for whole relationships. No one person can fill all the needs so we need to be open to mentors, friendships and family. I learned how to enjoy being alone too. I’m amazing and can entertain myself for hours. I’m sure you are learning that too. Good topic.

  • Tracey

    So much yes to this! I have struggled with this as well. There is a poem, “Comes the Dawn”, that a friend of mine had framed on her wall while I was first learning this in the beginning of my relationship with my boyfriend 10 years ago. There is a line: “So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers”. I always think of that verse when I start to feel like I’m allowing my happiness to be dependent upon him.

  • Never wait – meditate. This way you align yourself with the here and now instead of expecting to be somewhere or somewhen else. This way you will never wait again and you will always be happy.

  • E

    I don’t really feel that this is particularly confined to women. A very large amount of this rings true to me as a guy. So unless I’m particularly unusual it does actually happen to guys too. For me it’s caused immeasuarable heartache and probably ruined a lot of relationships I just think it’s a bit sad that as a guy I have to read books that are primarily written and aimed at female consumption (as in women/woman in the title) when the readership is probably wider and more across the sexes than people care to consider. How many relationship issues could be resolved if men were actually included in things rather than on the outskirts? Granted men are renowned/stereotyped for not admitting these things are important to them and not being as touchy feelly as women. In a sense it’s harder for me and you could argue the ones who need it, need it more because we don’t have the same support mechanisms as women do (i.e: men don’t tend to speak openly amongst themselves like women do ) Sadly through the work I’ve previously done I see the tragic side of this. I just don’t think everything has to be a man/woman divide. Anyway thanks for the article. Thankfully stuff aimed squarely at women doesn’t stop me reading it or stop me reading books aiming it straight at women in the title.
    Many women may struggle with it but from a man’s perspective you’re not even considered to be a real man but weak and what most women don’t want if you feel like this. Not knocking your opinion (far from it) just mentioning it doesn’t have to be on a sexual devide.

  • Oh, I totally agree with you! I didn’t mean to limit it to only women. I happened to be married to a man that never talked about this and I know there are plenty of men out there who struggle with this and more and aren’t comfortable talking about certain issues. I personally see a man as stronger if he can openly talk about what he’s thinking and feeling about and I believe there are women who prefer a man they can openly talk too. A admire you for your openness and honesty!

  • Black Bart

    Hey Matana. It took me a looooooong time to learn the valuable lessons you have been kind enough to share here. It sucks SO MUCH to place your faith in a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend to have them show up at a certain time and then they don’t. It’s heartbreaking. From your story, I can see you there, sitting and waiting in happy anticipation for your man to arrive. Then all the sudden its 615, then 630, then 645, then 700pm… and all your happy anticipation has been replaced with frustration and a sense of being let down.

    I am a happily married man and daughter to a little girl. A stereotype I swore I would NEVER live into is that of the Dad who’s always “sorry he’s late”. Weak men are late. Deceptive men are late. Disorganized men are late. Strong, responsible men of their word show up at 6pm when they say they will. If there are forces beyond a guy’s control like a huge traffic jam or your boss makes you stay late, in 2018, given cellphones, texting, Skype, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, email, etc there is precisely ZERO excuses available to neglect to take 5 seconds to text “Hi honey. Boss asked me to stay until 6. It sucks I know but Ill be right along. I’ll text you when I leave.” If a guy really wants to score points, bring home one of her favorite goodies. My wife loves chocolates.

    It doesn’t take much to communicate in this manner and it is a shame when nice, loving women get jilted by an irresponsible guy.

    Please note Matana that I am generalizing A LOT here and in no way casting aspersions at your BF. Your story depicted a young lady whose feelings had been hurt so as the Dad of a girl, the last thing I’d want for her would be to be kept waiting like that.

    It’s also happened to me before. I had to ditch buddy of mine last year. He was constantly late. He would make plans to go for a cocktail and then cancel 45 minutes before we were supposed to meet. I gave him 4 or 5 chances, each time feeling EXACTLY like you: dejected, let down, and like your time is not worth respecting.

    When I “broke up” with my friend, he called and emailed incessantly because he didn’t get why I chose to X him out of my life. Since he wouldn’t stop calling, I had no choice but to answer one day and be very harsh with him. That is not my way, but I’ve discovered that sometimes being overtly direct, even if it hurts someone’s feelings, is the only way to get a point across. He was hurt and sad and I was sad too. I liked the guy. He was smart and funny and we had a good time hanging out as buddies. But the lack of respect for my (and my extension my family’s) time… uh-uh…. no way. No how. You don’t get to work us over like that….

    Anyways… I wrote because I felt an affinity to your tale. I hope things are better now. You are a thoughtful person and deserve a guy who puts YOU first! Many blessings Matana. Peace.