Comment: I’m curious if you or your readers have any advice for dating again after betrayal. My last relationship was two years ago which ended by being suddenly dumped and then finding out he’d been cheating on me for a month or two prior. I gave myself time to heal from the experience and have tried a bit of online dating in the past year. Although nothing substantial has resulted, I’ve noticed I’m a lot less confident with men now. I feel very much like I’m in a game where I’m competing against other women, worried I’ll never be enough and being very skeptical of compliments or attention from men, feeling like it isn’t me they like.. It could be any female with the right parts put in front of them at the right time. In regards to sex, I feel closed off and very hesitant about being sexually vulnerable lest I end up feeling foolish for having trusted that man with my body. While I haven’t met anyone I’d want a serious relationship with again yet, I worry that when I do I will be seeking proof and reassurance which isn’t fair to an honest person and a fresh relationship.
One of my biggest struggles when ti comes to dating is taking what men say at face value. I was talking to a friend yesterday about this very issue. It also came up in therapy the other day. (Get used to that phrase, kids.) I was telling my doctor about a date I had had a few months before. It was nice. Fine. But I went in knowing it probably wasn’t going to go anywhere. My therapist asked me why I thought that was the case. All I could say was, “I just knew.” I then discussed with him something that happened more recently. Despite being told one thing, I couldn’t help but believe the opposite. When I explained to my therapist why this particular behavior triggered insecurity in me, he pointed out that particular person sounded like a jerk. Did I have any reason to believe this other man was a jerk? No. In fact this other man has done things that make him very much not a jerk. But when he replicated behavior that I have since associated with the jerkface guy, I pulled back. I wanted to trust him. I wanted to believe him. But my desire to never be made a fool of again overshadowed that. I don’t give many people the benefit of the doubt. It’s not something I’ve ever really done with much ease. But I did it, and I got burned pretty badly for it.
Since then, I’ve been overly cautious. While I’ve managed to work through that on my own and been able to date guys, I always stayed somewhat detached from the process. I didn’t shut down or refuse to be vulnerable. I just…I don’t know. I always had it in my head that this might not last forever, so don’t get too attached.
My therapist pointed out that I appeared to have a habit of filling in the blanks or writing the script before things were actually fleshed out. Being self-aware and self-actualized are great characteristics. But sometimes you can become so aware that you see right through people and bypass what they actually might be thinking and go right to what you think they’re thinking.Yes, some people will date you just for the sex and then they’ll abandon you. Or they’ll lie or somehow use you. Those people exist. But knowing those people exist is really all you need to help you side-step those people. You don’t have to assign a diagnosis to every guy you meet.
In my mind, things are fairly absolute. There’s no such thing as a gray area. Yes or no. In or out. The wait and see part? It killed me. I couldn’t bear the thought. So I drafted up an ending on my own in order to have some peace of mind. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the where is this going part of things that we fast forward through everything else because we want to see how things are going to end.
My solution to this was to stop jumping ten steps ahead and take everything day by day. Believe him today. Just today. Focus just on today. Then the next day start all over. Believe him that day. That one day. You don’t have to take everything they say at face value all the time. Just what they say today. Seeking proof really doesn’t do any good because often times the proof isn’t real. The gestures, the comments, the reassurances, they’re sometimes offered disingenuously or out of a self-serving need to to advance the game.
You struggle with trusting someone on an ongoing basis. You don’t have to. Also remind yourself that that one guy who betrayed you or who did you wrong told you who he was by his actions. He cheated. He lied. He’s a jerkface. You don’t know what these other men have done…yet. Wait until you see concrete evidence that they’re less than sincere.Then start to question them. But until then? Just trust them today. That way if they do disappoint you, you didn’t turn all your trust over to them.