Sex and the City: Searching for a safe, stable partner

I dated a girl who I met through a dating app. We met frequently only for a drink followed by sex. I realised I had engaged in very risky behaviour when she once mentioned casually that she was dating a married man for several years and that she had recently found out that he had multiple sexual partners. She had then got on a dating app as revenge for his cheating on her with other women. There she dated a few men and found me. I felt like a fool for risking sexually transmitted diseases. I have now become paranoid and am angry with myself for my own behaviour. I actually want a steady committed relationship with someone I can laugh, travel and share a life with. Why am I so desperate and looking for an easy option at all the wrong places? Kindly help me understand why I acted so rashly and how can I deal with the loneliness that gets to me at times? How can I find healthier and better options to feel happy even without a partner? Please guide.

Ans: Risky sexual behaviour can lead to a range of medical complications that are both embarassing and costly to treat. Now that you know better, it’s important for you to do a self-audit and ask yourself if you're looking for companionship or a one-night-stand or both? I always tell my clients that we always find the evidence we seek from this world and from other people. Our thinking influences everything that follows in our lives.

If you're clear about having a steady relationship, then you must find someone who has similar goals as you do. One does not look for snow in the middle of a dessert! Dating apps can not be demonified as a platform any more than MTV used to be blamed for teaching the youth 'bad things' in 1994. There is a certain screening process that you will need to learn to follow if in fact you do wish to find your future wife. This screening process must be both inclusive and exclusive to anyone whom you have great conversational chemistry with. That's usually a good start.

Marriages begin and culminate as binding and mature friendships that are shared over decades with someone whose company you enjoy. 'The easy option in wrong places' rationale sounds moralistic and rigid. Instead, let's rephrase that to 'convenient option in ambiguous or uncertain places'. Finding someone on dating apps may be convenient but real world experience matters a whole lot more.

This means learning to wait it out a little by giving your partner the luxury of being herself without you squinting at her with a little black diary where her every tresspass and gaffe is noted. One may put great thought into what one wants from a relationship but one must also put some thought into what one is willing to offer the relationship. Anger and paranoia are shortcuts to suffering and if it suffering you seek, then you're not that far away from such an unfortunate goal. Her history with her exes and her perception of men in general are bound to have coloured the way in which she lives her life.

Do you wish to be a passing statistic in her list of lovers? There is noone out there who will tell you what you need to do for yourself. Your acting rashly has little to do with the people you meet and more to do with the fact that you're finding newer ways to have your sexual and emotional needs addressed. There's nothing wrong in wanting to pay your needs attention. However, the wise way forward would be to first analyse what you stand to gain and what you stand to lose - by engaging in high risk sexual behaviour.

Loneliness is a problem that's almost becoming a socio-psychological epidemic of sorts. So many people want all the perks of companionship anda relationship but only on their timeline and only in accordance with their schedules. That's like saying, I want to go on a boat ride without having to deal with water or a sea-vessel of some kind. You give some. You take some. It has to be reciprocal.

Your happiness will emerge once you start taking better care of your individual needs that do not involve the speculation and participation of other people. If you're good company to yourself, you'll be great company to someone else. The real world is a far more eclectic search-radius for companionship.

Several real world activities or hobbies are a good place to start. You may finally find someone who shares your interests or world views. When you call yourself a fool, there is some self-ridicule implied. Don't be so hard on yourself. The world may attempt to beat you down or tackle you for having standards that are unacceptable or for having desires that nobody cares for. Unpleasant as this is, know that there is no easy way to define and refine one's terms in love and in life.

Regardless of what other people feel about you and your desires, you owe yourself a responsibility to think with clarity, act with tenacity and plan with equanimity. There are unfortunately no shortcuts to re-organizing our thoughts. Any change will feel superficial unless it comes from within you. You are going to have to change the speed with which you jump into relationships and also behave more sexually responsible if you wish to avoid STDs.

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