Previous bad choices and difficulties don't have to ruin your life from here on.
Dear Dr. Romance:
Thank you for your free articles, you have a lot of good stuff in there. A couple of the girls at work and I read your articles and get a good laugh. You're giving advice assuming that our lives are what YOU consider normal. You have a good job, make good money, live in a nice house, wear nice clothes, probably have good make-up, have access to good transportation, and so on. If I had all that, I wouldn't have a problem dating.
I am very proud of what I have, who I've become, where I live, how far I've come in life, and what I've overcome; at least until I started dating. I've been through hell and have been in one too many abusive relationships and made one too many bad choices in life.
I had a great job, made good money, owned a home, had hobbies, friends, basically I had a life. After my last relationship, which ended in him stealing everything I own and I had to get a restraining order, I lost everything. It's taken years to bounce back, rebuild, and get where I am. It took 3 years after that to be ready to date.
I know the type of man I want, and what I deserve. You write that we should be looking for someone successful, with a good job, a home, and that's what I want.
The problem is — nobody who has all that is going to look twice at someone like me. I'm defective. I'm damaged. I've dated over 20 men in the last couple of years, and it has been nothing short of horrible. Men question you to death about where you work, how much money you make, if you own a home, how old is your car, and on and on. They don't understand why I stayed in bad relationships, why I'm 45 and don't have more than I have. I give up. They put me down, make me feel like dirt, make me feel ashamed, and criticize me. I WAS proud and had some self-esteem, but not any more. Now I just want to hide.
I have decided that I just flat out should NOT date. Not to brag, but men look at me twice, I'm told I'm pretty, I'm friendly, easy to talk to — on the OUTSIDE I look like a good catch. To me, dating sites are "Men who want to get laid" sites. These days I will not give out my phone number before a first meeting. When I do meet them, I avoid talking about anything that may lead them to ask about my past. I will NOT tell them my last name. I have so much anxiety about meeting men, or even talking to them on the phone anymore, I have panic attacks. I have hidden both my profiles on the dating sites. I guess it makes me feel like there's still a chance when someone sends me an email and is interested — but I know I will never meet them. Why bother, I can't handle being 'interviewed' and put down one more time.
I judge myself very harshly and am ashamed of my job, where I live, and what I have because all the bad choices I've made got me where I am. I've been married twice, I have an expunged felony from many years ago because I got mixed up in meth for a couple of years. I've been so depressed I have gone 3-4 days without even getting out of bed. I have no family, no friends, no hobbies, no energy.
I live in a 600 sq foot apartment with my cats. I hate the way I have to live and would NEVER invite anyone here. I have an old kitchen table and chairs that need to be recovered, no curtains on the windows, no blankets on my bed, and I sit on the floor and watch a tv with no cable.
The first thing men do when they start writing me is tell me they own a home, have a good job, make good money, and then ask what I do. Occassionally, there is a man who would be perfect for me — but I start thinking about having to tell him about myself, and all the excuses I'll need to come up with to avoid giving him my name, not ever invite him over, and IF we ever met more than once, why I wear the same clothes all the time. Face it NOBODY will ever want anyone like me. I'm not the woman men want, I'm the women they settle for when they are either tired of looking, or realize that nobody else will ever want them. I know you don't understand and can't relate to me because you are WAY far above me. But please try.
I'm so sorry for your losses and your pain. Previous bad choices and difficulties don't have to ruin your life from here on. You can decide what your story is, you don't have to lead with the bad stuff. You have a heroic story, if you can only learn to see it that way. Overcoming past problems is a big achievement. Everyone has some degree of pain and shame in their past, even those men who sound perfect. They are just asking questions to try and get to know you. Not having money will not stop you from dating, you just need to be very smart about how you use the little money you have.
You may not realize it, but the person who's giving you the biggest problem in dating is yourself. You are so hard on yourself, you sap your own energy, so you don't have enough to fix up your life enough to be comfortable with it. Furniture can be found in thrift stores, and paint to fix up the furniture and your apartment is not very expensive — a little paint goes a long way. But you won't have the energy to do it until you stop criticizing yourself. You and those girlfriends could get together and choose to help each other fix up your places, trade clothing, and generally help one another instead of tearing yourselves down.
"Your Bestest Friend — You" will help you sort out your relationship with yourself, and become your friend instead of your enemy, and it costs nothing. You can get low-cost or free personal therapy by calling the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline for a referral to a nearby low-cost counseling center. I can hear your anger and frustration, and I know therapy will help. Once you've resolved your feelings about your past and yourself, you'll find you think differently about men and dating, and it will get easier. It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction is available as an inexpensive ebook, or you can get it from the library. It will help you overcome your past, and build a happy future.
For low-cost counseling, find me at LoveForever.com.
This article was originally published at Dr. Romance Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.