Will I ever find a partner?

Meredith and readers,

Are some people just not meant for relationships? Here is a glimpse into my past:

In high school and most of college I dated many guys, generally for two months, from all walks of life: older, younger, the athlete, the nerd, the "gangsta," the preppy, the lead singer of a band, guy in the military, the cable guy, the nice guy, and the jerk. If you are wondering, I was only intimate with a select few at an older age. The one true relationship that counted lasted 9 months. "Rob" and I met through mutual friends at the age of 21. It was love at first sight. Rob and I dated for 2 months before I began my senior year of college. For the next 7 months, Rob and I dated long distance as I went to school 5 hours away. Long story short, we fought often due to our different upbringings and backgrounds, lack of similar interests, and Rob's trust issues from his previous relationships. About a year after the breakup, Rob and I worked on becoming friends and still hang out once in a great while. And no, I do not see myself in a relationship with him ever again. After Rob, I have dated here and there but have focused more on taking care of myself, reconnecting with family, friends, hobbies, and focusing on my career. I have casually dated over the past few years. Typically, I wind up losing interest after a few weeks and end it. I don't feel a special "connection" to any of them and haven't since Rob.

Present: today I consider myself very successful, confident, and independent at the age of 25. I work for a world-wide company and travel. Recently I have sworn into the United States Reserves and leave for boot camp very soon.

Future: My long-term goals include a career switch, continuing with the Reserves, and living in Massachusetts or the New England area. I feel very fortunate and proud to have accomplished all of this but I feel there is a piece missing. Perhaps the missing piece is a partner to share and enjoy life with.

I am afraid that my life will never calm down enough to share it with someone else. Everyone seems to be clingy nowadays. I am very independent and like to do my own thing but not necessarily 24/7 by any means. Maybe that could change if I met the right person. Friends have said that I need someone who will challenge me, be my equal, and have the same or very similar interests. Should I just live and enjoy my 20s even though I feel something is missing? Am I too independent? Should I be concerned that I hardly ever fall or "settle" for someone? It seems like everyone else I know can be happy or settle with someone. I just feel lost in this whole matter or that I am doing something wrong.

– Will I Ever Settle Down?, Massachusetts

You've dated a bunch of people, WIESD. You're 25. You're about to leave for boot camp. You're single and wondering why.

My thought is -- thank goodness you haven't met someone awesome. This isn't the right time. Maybe soon, but not now.

Now, everyone is going to tell you that you're whining about nothing, but before they do, let me remind them that there are some significant feelings going on here. Just because a person isn't ready to be serious with someone doesn't mean they can't get lonely. Loneliness can be overwhelming. It can make a person believe that they'll never be understood, that they'll never get out of their solitary hole, and that the rest of the world is experiencing something they'll never get their hands on.
Don't let the loneliness scare you. It doesn't mean that you'll never meet anyone. It doesn't mean that you're not capable. And being in the Reserves -- well, you'll be meeting people who share your motivation and drive. That sounds pretty promising to me.

The present doesn't stand for anything but the present. You're not doing anything wrong. It just takes time.

Readers? How do you balance wanting a partner with a life that makes it impossible to have one? How do you cope with being young but lonely? Advise.

– Meredith