Dear Christine, Burned in Berkley

  • Posted on May 27, 2019 at 7:01 am

Dear Christine,

Dumped again! I have dated 4 women in the past 2 years and the pattern seems a little too similar to me. Each one of the 4 pursued me. I feel like I tried to go slow and get to know them but they all convinced me that they thought I was the one. I guess I wasn’t because now, for the 4th time, I’ve been hurt. I can only assume that they find me attractive at first and then find something terribly wrong with me. I’ve gone to friends for advise asking them to be honest and tell me what’s wrong with me. They won’t or can’t seem to give me an answer. They don’t think it’s me. The women I’ve dated have all had excuses that didn’t seem to be about me. One said she didn’t like how “out” I was. I guess that is about me. One decided to go back to an ex girlfriend. Another met someone new while we were dating. This last one just quietly faded away slowly without any answer. I need answers to what I’m doing wrong and why someone can date me for 3 to 6 months and then be done. It’s all pretty intense at first. Is it just a run of bad luck or am I scaring them away? How do I know? I’m a bit reluctant to try again and yet I hate being single!

Signed, Burned in Berkley

Hi Burned, I hear you! You’ve had a string of four unhappy relationships, and as you see it, the common denominator is you! That’s coming from a place of power, looking at yourself to see what you are doing that isn’t working, or what you’re not doing that is missing. As you analyze your part in each of these relationships, you may recognize some pattern on your part that you can become aware of and work on changing. However, relationships take two people, each one giving the relationship 100% of their time, energy and commitment. It isn’t a 50/50 split at all! The most committed, open, honest, loving person can get dumped because the person she’s with no longer wants to make the relationship work. One person can’t save a relationship. It always takes both of you wanting it and working for it. The pattern I’m seeing in your rundown of the last four women in your life is that each one pursued you and convinced you that you “were the one for them”. I’m not sure you were persuaded that any of them was really THE one for you! You seemed to go along with their pressure, trying to slow down their advances, and then get swept up in their emotions. What about your emotions? How did you really feel about each one? Was any one of them THE one for you? Did the dating go on long enough for you to figure that out? The other pattern is that it doesn’t sound like you are “doing” anything wrong. You are being you and that’s all you can and should ever be! The first one left you because you “were too out”. You say that’s about you, ie, you were out. Ok, true. But you don’t have a problem with being out! That’s acceptable. But this someone else clearly has a problem with you being you. How is that about you? I don’t believe you should change your being who you are for anyone else. If you close down being so “out,” how long will it be until resentment and anger start to fester? If you are out, that’s just who you are. Like if you’re tall. You can’t be short. It’s ok to be tall. You don’t have to stoop over to be short because a new woman likes you short better than tall. And if it’s the reverse, she likes tall women and you’re short, you don’t have to run out and by platform shoes to meet her desires. You could end up with hammer toe, corns and bunions and a bad back, and it could even mean surgeries to repair those injuries of trying to be tall because your girlfriend prefers tall people. The second girlfriend went back to her ex. That’s not about you. Maybe she told you something else to make herself feel justified in hurting and leaving you, but it sure sounds like she never was completely over her ex when she met you! So, that’s about her. Her heart was not available, and the timing was off for the two of you to meet. Beware of people who are still emotionally attached to their ex. Make sure you understand how that relationship ended, who ended it and why, and how the person you want to date feels about that prior break up. If she is waiting for the ex to “see the light” and come back to her, then you never had a chance! That’s waiting for the ex to “see the light” and come back to her, then you never had a chance! That’s not you!

When someone meets someone else new while you are dating her, that’s also about her. Sounds like she was never really yours to begin with. If so, what was your agreement about the boundaries of the relationship? Were you both dating other people, or were you monogamous? How long had you been dating and how serious was it between the two of you. Just because someone thinks you’re the cat’s meow, doesn’t mean that you’re ready to let them into your heart. Perhaps this someone was using you to not be alone while she looked for the “right” relationship for her. She probably wasn’t aware of doing that, but asking questions about her dating history and what she needs and expects in relationships helps you figure that out. And make sure you communicate the boundaries you need to feel safe enough to be emotionally close to someone. Don’t agree to dating others just because she wants to and you don’t. Figure out what you need, and ask for it, 100%. If the these are needs and not wants, then they probably are non-negotiable (your height, your being out, an open relationship or monogamy) then you probably can’t change any of them. But you can communicate them, and the other woman has the opportunity to say “you’re not for me then” or say “ok, I agree with that.”

The last one drifted away, which sounds like the others, in that she never really was engaged in the relationship deeply. She never opened up to you or really connected with you in a lasting way, and she wasn’t a communicator who would let you know what needs of hers she wasn’t getting met. You can negotiate getting both of your needs met, but it takes mutual respect and open communication and honesty, so that you can build trust and keep each other updated with how your feelings develop, change, grow or wither. Make a list of everything you need and must have in a girlfriend. Make a list of those qualities that you can’t be involved with too. Then, use that list as a way of interviewing dates about who they are and whether they fit the bill to become your girlfriend. If someone is always cheating on her prior girlfriends, and I can’t have a cheater as a girlfriend, better to learn that about myself, and about her up front. If you play all the dating games and give your heart out too quickly, you then have invested too much to just walk away when you see the red flags of her prior dishonesty. Don’t expect that you can change someone else. Not that someone can’t change, but it’s very hard work and has to be something that that person sees, is aware of and wants to change. Just because you want her to promise to never cheat on you and she says she won’t, doesn’t mean that you will believe her. How is she aware of what hurt she’s caused in the past? What has she done to begin to be aware of this and what is she doing to actively change that behavior so it won’t occur again? In the first “love psychosis” as the Japanese call falling in love, the chemistry is great, like a drug, but it can get us over-involved before we know whether or not we’re compatible with each other. Your friends sound like they are being honest with you that even though you have had four disappointing relationships in a row, it doesn’t sound like you did anything terrible to cause them to end. It sounds like they were 4 mismatches. The only thing you can do is to pay attention to your needs and make sure you take dating as a trial period to learn about this woman, and see if you truly can believe what she says and if you are truly compatible from both of your perspectives. Take care, Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

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