Let me tell you about a young man , we will call him Paul. He had no interest in girls when at school. His friends were full of talk of girls and women. He didn’t see the point. He had his own interests. He didn’t want to get tied up with a girl and live to regret it. He didn’t want to find a wrong girl and end up in all sorts of trouble. He didn’t want a girl to trap him into a relationship by allowing herself to become pregnant. He thought that girls could be very devious, he was content with his life without a girl.

The years went by, something seemed to be missing in Paul’s life. He felt somewhat purposeless and rather lonely. Gradually one by one, his friends got married and he didn’t see them very often, they only seemed to have time for other married couples. They lost interest in going out and drinking and chatting. They were family men now.  He became rather a lonely young man. He still had his family, but there was a hole in his life. He began to think that what he needed was a girl, a young woman  to spend his time with, to talk to and laugh and live with. He began to think hard about what she should be like: she should look like this and she should think like that and she should be this age and she should have these feelings. He painted a picture of the perfect girl for himself. But he never saw her ; all the girls he met were different from what he wanted and they frightened him.  He was a nice looking lad and girls seemed to want to draw him in to their lives but he was afraid of commitment. He was also afraid of rejection. He wanted to be the one to do the rejecting so the safest way was not to ask – never to put himself in a position where he would be rejected. It would be too embarrassing ; his family would be upset. They would have built up their hopes for him and then he would disappoint them.  Then there was the fear that if he did find a girl that he liked, perhaps his family would not like her, and there would be tension and arguments.  Much simpler not to get involved. He lived with his family. He saw them everyday. They were aware of everything he did,  gently encouraging or discouraging this or that.  He felt supported by them, but at the same time, he felt he was letting them hold him back because of his fears.

The other thought that always plagued Paul was that he felt he should know where life was taking him and where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do and to be, before involving anyone else in his life, and the trouble was he hadn’t reached that point yet. He didn’t think a girl would be interested in a young man who didn’t know what his own future was going to be. The result of all these thoughts was that he had had no practice in having girlfriends. He hadn’t been able to learn from mistakes because he hadn’t taken the risk to make any mistakes. One part of him had been thinking that everything would resolve itself suddenly a career would appear, he would ‘find himself a life path’ and then the perfect girl would come along and would instantly fall in love and they would be made for each other. Another part of him realised that life is just not like that. We have to keep searching for more fulfilling work, for a better way of living and we have to practice and be willing to fail in relationships. He knew that if he treated people with respect and care, looking after himself and the other person, if the relationship failed it would not be a disaster. However, the thought of going to expense and effort of practising and not actually having a real girl friend or risking losing one put him off even beginning to try.

Paul decided that this was no good. He would not be so fussy, he would not look for perfection, but he would be open to communication. He would be willing to experiment with relationship. This decision coincided with the knowledge that soon he would have his own place where he would have the privacy to make mistakes and not feel that he would be judged. He began to take more interest in his appearance,  to keep himself well groomed, clean and tidy. He asked his mother to show him how to cook some of his favourite meals and to teach him all the basic processes in cooking. He was a very willing student, having resisted in the past. His family recognised his efforts and appreciated the occasions when he cooked meals for them. They praised his efforts instead of teasing him or belittling him as once they might have done.  He began to pay attention to the care of his own clothes and to the organisation of his own room. He looked on it is a practice for when he would be completely without his family, unless he chose to see them. This process took several weeks and months. Gradually he built his confidence and was ready to move when the time came. He had taken several girls out for a drink without thinking that it was all-important that he should be accepted by them, or that they had to be perfect. He had decided to relax and not worry about what they were thinking of him. After all, nothing matters that much.

I’m not going to tell you the rest of the story, but I can say that this young man was much happier in his life and in his willingness to allow himself to fail. He found success slowly but surely.  He built himself a life. Learn what you can from this young man, as indeed he was willing to learn.