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How I (Finally) Learned to Stop Dating the Wrong Kind of Guy

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Posted on August 05,2016

Hi All ;

 

This is a very well written article, contains incredible wisdom, and should be required reading for everyone here, but in particular the younger ladies, who always seem to be attracted to the bad guys like a moth to a flame. Sadly, by the time they get smart, half their life is over. As a society we don't do a good job teaching our young daughters about the qualities to look for in a man, and a lot of tears is the inevitable result. Time is precious, don't waste it on bad guys. Love should not hurt. If it is hurting, it is not love. Take care now, Peter.

 

http://www.glamour.com/story/stop-dating-wrong-guy

 

"I was sitting at the prettiest date restaurant, out with a guy I’d met several days before at a mixer. He was sweet and upbeat, talkative and seemingly driven. I nodded along to his stories as I took bites of my pasta, methodically peppering him with questions while revealing very little about myself. Although I was technically there, I couldn’t force myself to actually show up for that date.

 

In the end, I hugged him goodbye and thanked him for dinner. When he texted me the following day, I told him that, although he was lovely, it was probably best we went our separate ways.

 

That would be my last date before a self-imposed dating sabbatical. There is no use dating while you’re numb.

 

I had been like that for months, emotionally battered after my last relationship and closed off to connection. Looking back one year later, my brain has blotted out much of the months I spent with my ex. I remember it hurt; I don’t remember all the details.

 

I recall a series of ups and downs, in which I felt completely inadequate as a relationship partner. I lost much of my self-esteem. I cried a lot. He was a fantastic liar, always changing his story so smoothly. He always made me believe in his intentions, before retracting his words and making me feel crazy for believing his previous sentiments would hold weight.

 

If you’ve ever dated a manipulator, you know what it’s like after you finally pull the plug. You hemorrhage emotionally, both from the wounds of a breakup and the wounds he created during your time together. That person always comes back, too. My ex would approach me whenever he saw me around—in a coffee shop, in a parking lot. Anywhere. He’d ask how I was, tell me “a lot had changed for him,” or that I met him “at a strange time in his life.” He would ask me to meet him again sometime, start over with purpose.

 

It’s easy to get sucked in by articulate charmers, especially if you have somewhat of a “fix it” or savior complex; Even after the breakup, you want to see true change in the person. You’ve invested. You want the reward. But after months of false promises, I knew not to go down that road with my ex.

 

When I’d kindly but firmly decline his invitation for dinner or coffee, as I always did, he’d find ways to press buttons that made me hurt all over again. One moment, it was “you were the best girlfriend I’ve ever been with,” and the next “we were never really together.” I’d smile, tell him I wished him well, and bite back the floodgates.

 

I always walked away feeling the weight of all the raw edges inside my body; wounds he’d cut open months before, aching and not yet healed. I let the pain sit inside me for a night, and then I’d try to block out all feeling the next morning.

 

After mindlessly throwing myself back into the dating pool in the immediate aftermath of the breakup, I decided to stop after that date in late July 2015. First dates left me feeling hollow, bored, and out of touch. I wasn’t ready. Not because I was still bleeding from the months of emotional manipulation, but because I’d slowly cauterized myself to emotions at all. I was numb to new prospects, and unsure what I was looking for.

 

For me, dating has always been about building a long-term connection—one that I had never been able sustain. I subconsciously started to recognize how exhausted I was. Historically, I’d tossed my energy at whatever my whims desired, and these characteristics—charming, confident, successful, witty—usually depleted me of my otherwise healthy self-esteem.

 

As I mentally leafed through the pages of that dating history, reflecting on the type of guys that I had chosen, a frightening pattern of similarities emerged. They’d all pursued me with strong initial interest. They were deep and perplexing, enticing since I loved a challenge. They were confident enough to break through my walls of busyness and fear, but their cocky attitudes eventually gave way to their deeply-rooted insecurities. They were engaging and charismatic, extremely smart and articulate. They also had an inability to care about someone for any length of time, or emotionally engage with a relationship in a healthy manner.

 

These men would retreat often, pushing me away, before returning with more promises about the kind of guy they were, sprinkling pretty words all over my tattered heart. I believed them, because there wasn’t another option; their behavior was all I knew, and everything I was conditioned to cope with. There was never any consistency. They always put themselves first. They were all narcissists.

 

For years, I’d been under the false assumption that this was “my type.” Must be. I always chose it. Only after taking inventory did I recognize that I had agency in that decision. Only I defined and chose my type, my type did not choose me, and I had the power to turn the tides. The one issue? I didn’t really know what I was looking for. So after months of trying to reorient myself, I finally asked my oldest friend for help.

 

Connor has known me for more than a decade. He has seen me through my ultra-nerdy high school years, and has watched me attempt to date for the entirety of my adulthood. “What do you think would make me happy?” I asked him one night during a heart-to-heart about dating, covering both his habits and mine.

 

His answer was short, to the point. “Super-outgoing and friendly is what I imagine for you—and that’s huge, because I feel like you don’t go for outgoing people,” he said of my brooding M.O. “Mature. Confident. I don’t see you with a smooth-talker, more of a legitimately good person.”

 

I went to bed thinking about what he said, letting those seeds start to take root. Legitimately good. Of course I wanted someone “good.” But did I actually look for that in practice, or just seek out recovering bad boys that I could rehabilitate toward some kind of “good-ish” end?

 

Sometime around Christmas, five months into my Year Without Dating, I realized what a relationship was supposed to be. I’d made mostly new friends since the spring—the breakup and a depleted post-grad friend group had required it. It also dawned on me that I hadn’t been called upon to “solve” any of their problems.

 

These friends built me up, and they never packed drama. I wasn’t creating five-step plans to help them end their toxic relationships, discussing them to death as they never followed through on their promises to leave. I wasn’t taking late-night phone calls to argue or vent. I just felt happy spending time with them.

 

It dawned on me that the same principle applied to my romantic relationships. Maybe relationships weren’t about fixing a person at all. Maybe they were about mutual support.

 

So with the dawn of 2016, I actually started to think about what I needed in a relationship—not what I wanted or was instantly drawn toward, but the qualities that would make me feel safe and supported. I looked for times I felt that way, or saw authentically supportive gestures in real life. I observed the many men who passed through my life, from family members to guy friends, friends’ boyfriends to work acquaintances.

 

I have noted every time my dad gets the car door for my mom, 30 years into their marriage. I appreciate the way my friend Mike boosts his girlfriend Jordan's sense of independence during an incredibly busy time in her life. I like the way my best friend’s boyfriend makes an effort to engage in her life, with her friends and her interests. I like that one of my guy friends always silently does the right thing simply for the sake of doing it, not because he’s going to get anything in return. His yes means yes; he follows through on his word. I warm whenever he notices I am selling myself short or subtly downplaying my accomplishments. It reminds me that I am the sum of my positives, not the essence of my last mistake.

 

I have taken mental snapshots of all the qualities that make a genuinely good man—the things that would create a stable and positive relationship. These images have slowly started to replace all the old memories of my exes, the flashes of hurt, the anger so hot it had branded me a victim of my own unconscious decisions.

 

I’m not going to be that girl anymore. I hadn’t chosen my type, but I’d allowed my type to choose me. Time and again. Everyone tells me that I need a confident guy, but it took me years to understand what that looks like; I had always let a guy’s false persona confuse me into believing it was genuine. It was just a shield for the insecurities he projected upon me.

 

In reality, confidence is quiet. You have to open your eyes and acknowledge it. It does not beg for attention, and it won’t settle for less than it deserves. It does not prey on anyone, or put another person down. It is always positive energy. And it’s not easy to find, especially if you’ve spiraled into a cycle of dating narcissists who bleed you dry and forced you to keep putting your walls back up.

 

Walls exist for a reason. With all the guys I had dated, part of those walls never really crumbled. In this day and age, where egalitarian marriages are verifiably happier and we’re looking for our true equals, you have to ask yourself about the guy who always comments on the walls and blockades you put up. Are you just the next challenge? What are his motives for breaking them down, and why are your walls still so high months after meeting someone?

 

Sometimes, it’s instinctually unsafe to let your guard down. I think we are predisposed to place walls in front of the guys who would hurt us. Maybe dating is always a gamble, but take note of the guys who literally scare all your senses. Sure, it’s a rush. But your walls will never fall. These men will toss grenades from afar, haphazardly amassing damage as they force their way into your life. A healthy relationship won’t follow

 

I’m looking for the guy who creates an atmosphere where it’s OK to take my walls down. It’ll be quiet, less emotional, and probably a whole lot more fulfilling in the long run.

 

I haven’t seriously dated anyone since my last ex-boyfriend, and I’m okay with that. As the saying goes, “It only takes one.” I’m more than willing to wait for the person who quietly brings positive energy into my world. I may not know what he looks like, but this time, I’ll know exactly how he’s supposed to feel: calm, peaceful, and safe."

 

Thanks for sharing this, Mr. Peter. It somehow liberates me from my own bondage of the past. 

God bless po..

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