Not in love with this
Auntie Matter on when you’re just not feeling it
If you have questions for Auntie Matter, please submit them at tinyurl.com/AskAuntieMatter. Questions have been edited for length, clarity, and content.
Dear Auntie Matter,
I am taking five different classes in three different majors this semester because I wanted to find something I like to do. But as usual, I don’t like any of them. I keep joining and leaving clubs in the hopes that I will find a hobby to enjoy, but that never works, either. I am always unhappy with what I have. I find no enjoyment in life. What should I do?
— Unhappily Ungrateful
I admire the fact that you are trying to figure out what makes you happy by taking a broad range of classes. I think, even though this strategy isn’t working out yet, it will eventually pay dividends. Figuring out what you want to do isn’t always a fast process. It can seem like everyone else knows what their dreams are. In reality, the vast majority of MIT undergrads are very young people who are going to change a lot in the near future. Keep your head up and continue exploring academically — you’ll figure it out eventually.
In the meantime, you seem to be in a bad place. One way to help would be self care. Does exercise make you feel good? How about listening to music? Cooking? Get in touch with the things that bring you pleasure. Especially if you find “no enjoyment in life,” a good place to start would be with some small, pleasurable acts.
You mention trying and leaving new clubs frequently. While trying new things (and meeting new people) is great, I encourage you to stick with a community you find agreeable. Having a consistent group of friends that can support you will mean there is something good about your life, even if classes and clubs aren’t going your way. Like the Girl Scouts song, “make new friends, but keep the old.”
Another way to feel that you have more is to recognize what you have. To quote Rilke, “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.” Some people suggest writing a list each night of a few things you are grateful for. Auntie finds it improves her life tremendously to be awake to the beauty in the world. See if you can notice a tree, or a flower, or a shaft of light on a friend’s face. If it strikes you, recognize the beauty in the moment.
The above are all suggestions to improve your life, but sometimes we are having so much difficulty that we need help to begin. Mental Health & Counseling on MIT’s campus is always available, as well as off campus providers. If all of these suggestions seem impossible, seeing a mental health provider might be a good place to start.
Dear Auntie Matter,
Last night, my girlfriend of one month told me we had to talk. She said that she had been feeling pressure to move too fast. She said she had to tell me she didn’t love me. Auntie, I don’t love her either! It’s been a month! But, if she says this now, will she ever love me? She said this is all internal pressure, but is it something I did? Why would you tell someone you didn’t love them? GQ did not prepare me for this.
— She Loves Me Not
Believe it or not, Auntie has been in a similar predicament in her own lurid love life. She recommends the following approach.
First, you should ask her why she said she didn’t love you. Is she reacting to your behavior — for example, does she feel you are too clingy, or that you have been pushing the relationship forward too fast for him? Or is more of an issue with her insecurities?
If she says she’s reacting to you, you should ask her what is bothering her. It could be that she is misunderstanding some of your behaviors — perhaps you text her more than she is used to, or you’ve asked her on one too many dates for the amount of time you’ve been together — and now would be a good opportunity to clarify both of your expectations. In the best case scenario, you can reach a deeper understanding of each other. In the worst case, you may discover you’re not compatible after all, and break up.
If she is not reacting to you, it could be a red flag. Maybe she has commitment issues that will make your relationship more difficult down the line. Maybe she’s afraid of love, and she’ll keep telling you that she doesn’t love you every month to avoid facing that fear.
On the other hand, maybe you should just tell her to stop being so extra, and that, no, you don’t love her either. If she agrees that she was overreacting, and understands why her comment was hurtful, it might be that she was a good woman who said a dumb thing.
Finally, Auntie Matter believes that someday you two can remove the “don’t” from “I don’t love you.” After all, it has only been a month.