Ask Jigsaw: Never had a close relationship

Ask Jigsaw: Never had a close relationship

Tuesday, 21 July 2020


I’m 24 and my main problem is I’m very aware of the fact that I have never been in a close relationship with a girl in my life and I feel like I’m a real outlier in this regard. I’m very worried that I will never find someone and will always be alone. I became close to a few girls in college but they all rejected me just when I felt like things may be getting serious.

I still have strong feelings for one particular girl but am resigned to the fact that this will always be unrequited. I question myself daily as to why I was not good enough for this girl and this had led to me feeling very low at times. This has been going on for a number of years and I feel like my self-esteem has really taken a battering as a result.

During this time I have watched as nearly all the members of my close friend group have managed to find themselves in long-term relationships. I find it very hard to forgive myself for messing up my chances at relationships during college. I wonder a lot about “what might have been”. Would appreciate any words you would have to say about all this. Thank you.


Hi there 1995,

It makes sense that you feel you’re missing out by not having close relationships in the past. Through social media, tv and films we often get the message that in order to feel fulfilled and happy, we need to be in a romantic relationship. This is certainly not true.

Connections with friends, family, even pets and nature can be just as (and sometimes more!) fulfilling. You can read more about being single and feeling happy here.

Jigsaw Clinician
Ultimately, a relationship won’t improve self-esteem, that’s up to us.

Making comparisons

Be wary of comparing ourselves to others. It’s understandable that you feel different to friends that are in relationships, and it can be all too easy to imagine that they are happier than you. However, there is no way for us to truly know the happiness of others.

Quite often, people in relationships don’t feel connected to their partner, and can struggle with feelings of loneliness and low self-esteem. Ultimately, a relationship won’t improve self-esteem, that’s up to us.


Low self-esteem can often get in the way of building new relationships. It can be helpful to notice our self-criticism, and perhaps, try speaking to ourselves as we would a close friend. Remember our strengths too. Keeping compliments or praise that we received before in mind, can help us to remember our worth. This can take a bit of practice though.

Take the pressure off

It sounds like you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself to create a relationship with the girl that you have feelings for. Starting a new relationship takes courage, particularly if we are feeling a little low. Maybe take some pressure off by starting a friendship with this girl, and seeing where it leads. If you both enjoy each other’s company, you might feel more comfortable to start a conversation about your feelings.

Sometimes worrying can be useful, in that it helps us to focus on a problem. Other times, worrying does not help us, and it’s important to challenge the thought we’re having. If we focus on what we can control, like our self-esteem, we will be in a better place to start a relationship when the opportunity arises.

Take care,

Tom, Jigsaw Clinician

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