Avoiding Dating Disasters The Second Time Around

Dating DisastersAfter escaping my abusive marriage, it was quite some time before I could begin to see men with any measure of objectivity, for during the craziness that came with divorcing my abuser, I arrived at the convenient conclusion that all men were scum. My new mantra was clear and simple, and it felt good to finally embrace what felt like truth.

Having two sons, though, I knew they need not be destined for such a fate, and after more than two years of intense counseling, there finally came a moment when the high stone wall of disillusionment began to weaken, giving way to the remotest possibility of genuine relationship, when a flicker of hope began to warm my wounded, distrusting heart.

But reentering the dating world is not an easy thing after coming out of a relationship based on the lowest common denominators. I was admittedly terrified at the possibility of making another life-altering mistake that would affect not only me but my children. I didn’t ever want to play the fool once again or spend even one more night crying myself to sleep.

I presumed, as many of us 40-ish folks do, that all the good ones are taken. I also realized that the odds were slim that any God-fearing man in his right mind would spend more than ten minutes in the presence of a shell-shocked, forty-something woman with four equally emotionally damaged children.

Looking back, it certainly does seem miraculous that I survived the Christian dating minefield (which is an appropriate description) and eventually met the love of my life and married him a little over nine years ago. Based on my second-time-around experience, I would like to offer abuse survivors contemplating re-entering the dating world some basic suggestions. They have been cobbled together from my understanding of our enabling tendencies bolstered by the lessons I learned through the dating process.

There is no scientific basis for what I share, and this commentary is intended almost exclusively for women, as I believe that a woman’s profoundly unique inclinations to operate as nurturers and helpmates also tend to make us prime abuser-bait. So as you consider re-entering this realm, these are a few things I would urge you to remember.

  • Remember that you need time to heal. You may never heal completely, but you need to be sufficiently healthy and emotionally strong enough to recognize unsafe or unhealthy men and walk away from them without blinking. There is no specific timeline for testing those waters; however, if you are dangerously fragile and are torn between jumping in or waiting a while longer, please wait. Time for healing and a balanced measure of wholeness are important pursuits and should not be rushed. Furthermore, loneliness is a poor motivation and could leave you vulnerable. You need to be okay by yourself before you can be okay with someone else.
  • Remember the needs of your children. Make sure your home base is well-covered and that your children feel secure and are able to handle any additional time you are away from them. Consider whether they are okay with the idea of you dating. Keep their needs first in this process even if that means waiting.

With children in mind, I personally recommend meeting new people at a neutral, public location rather than your home, at least until you feel like the relationship may have some long-term potential, so that men are not going in and out of your children’s lives. You don’t want them to get the impression that relationships are inherently temporary, nor do you want them to grow too attached to someone who may or may not remain in their lives.

  • Remember that you have already been through hell. If you don’t want to walk that road again, avoid the kind of man who will be more than happy to take you there. Even if you know what kind of relationship you want, you may be attracted to something else, something familiar – and unsafe. This is not a call to paranoia, but rather to caution, a reminder to be willing to see legitimate issues, as we – as recovering abuse victims – have been trained to rationalize away those waving red and yellow flags.
  • Remember to be patient. This is not a race, and you are not looking for any man’s attention, you are waiting for the right man’s attention. Whether you choose to wait for an acquaintance to ask you out to lunch or you decide to join a dating website, try not to panic, push or rush things, and listen, listen, listen to your instincts. Don’t feel any obligation to “make it work.” If that is your attitude, you are likely headed down a very familiar and unhealthy path.
  • Remember that you want a protector not a project. Any man with whom you decide to spend some time should be emotionally and spiritually balanced and healthy. He should be a gentleman, not a show-boater, someone who sees you and hears what you have to say. He should be someone who would clearly look out for your needs rather than merely seeking to meet his own.
  • Remember to set your standards high and hold to them. Just because a guy notices you does not necessarily make him worthy of your attention. You are under no obligation whatsoever to “give a guy a chance.” If there is something in his manner or attitude that makes you uncomfortable, don’t waste your time or his. You’re better off saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

If you hear a familiar voice whispering, “Maybe this is as good as it gets,” then know you are being tempted to settle for far less than you want, need and deserve.

One guy with whom I had met for coffee called one afternoon to invite me to go swing dancing with him that evening. I told him I didn’t particularly enjoy swing dancing and would rather not. He curtly responded, “A confident woman is comfortable in any situation.” I told him that was nice, but that I still wasn’t going swing dancing with him. His attempt to shame me into going out with him told me everything I needed to know. End of story.

  • Remember to go slow. If a guy you barely know invites you to dinner, arrives at the door with a dozen long-stemmed roses and a box of chocolates and takes you an uptown French restaurant on a first date, he may well be expecting more than a good-night kiss at the end of the evening. He may be assuming that, after a nice evening, you owe him. So make it clear from the get-go that you can’t be bought, and you want to take it slow. After all you have done to reclaim your life and your value, don’t be foolish enough to give it away.

It’s a good idea to meet for coffee, take a walk, go miniature golfing, hit a movie and generally keep it casual while you’re getting to know someone. Spend time in a variety of situations to see how he responds to them – and to you. One guy I dated was attentive when we were out together, but when we showed up to a party with his friends, he suddenly treated me like I was invisible, as though he was ashamed of me. That was the real him.

With those basics in play, I’d like to offer some “dos” and “don’ts” worth considering. In no particular order, I recommend that you avoid dating a guy who…

  • Is married (even if he says he is getting a divorce);
  • Needs rescuing;
  • Makes you uncomfortable;
  • Makes you feel unimportant;
  • Is inconsistent (hot one day and cold the next);
  • Is boastful;
  • Is heavy on flattery;
  • Can’t keep his hands off you;
  • Doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer;
  • Can’t seem to hold down a job;
  • Can’t manage his finances;
  • Plays an enabling role in his family;
  • Has jerky friends – or no friends;
  • Has an impossible dream;
  • Has an impossible ego;
  • Has a hot temper;
  • Has an addiction;
  • Has a foul mouth;
  • Verbally “bashes” his former wife or girlfriends;
  • Is eyeballing other women when he’s with you;
  • Is disrespectful or flirtatious toward hostesses, servers and cashiers;
  • Is chronically late;
  • Is obsessed with you;
  • Doesn’t give you eye contact, listen well or acknowledge you during conversation;
  • Blames someone or something for everything that has ever gone wrong in his life;
  • Doesn’t treat you with respect;
  • Makes you cry.

And, of course: Don’t date a guy who reveals any abusive tendencies. If for any reason he becomes demeaning, harsh, accusatory, possessive or manipulative, walk away and don’t look back.

On the other hand, men with a solid history, good friends and a gentlemanly, positive attitude are a safer bet. Don’t be afraid to spend some time with the guy who…

  • Sees time spent together as an investment in the relationship rather than a necessary evil;
  • Is a good listener;
  • Is a protector of you and others under his charge;
  • Doesn’t need to be the center of attention;
  • Doesn’t freak out about the cost of things or flaunt his wealth;
  • Is respectful to you and everyone else he encounters;
  • Understands the differences between men and women in a good way;
  • Arrives on time to meet you or pick you up or calls to let you know if he’ll be a little late;
  • Enjoys spending time with his family and friends – and yours;
  • Has healthy hobbies, interests and outlets;
  • Is not addicted – to alcohol, drugs, pornography, television or even technology;
  • Can manage his money, his work, and his household;
  • Looks you in the eye and responds sincerely during conversation;
  • Can confess his life stresses without whining about them or blaming everyone else for them;
  • Trusts you;
  • Is confident without being cocky;
  • Returns your phone call in a timely manner;
  • Is conscious of your comfort level in unfamiliar situations;
  • Doesn’t pressure you when he takes you home;
  • Pays your way (or not, if that is more appropriate for the situation);
  • Can maturely and responsibly handle inconveniences or crises;
  • Is interested in you as a person and not just your body; and
  • (As a believer), has a genuine, personal relationship with God, not just a church.
  • Remember to protect your heart. Just because a man pursues you does not mean you should let him catch you. If your heart is screaming ‘no,’ listen. And if your heart is encouraging you to say ‘yes,’ but something in your head is whispering ‘no’ (or vice versa), remember that you were misled once before. Take a step back, try to be more objective and seek counsel from those who know him and/or you. Or just give the relationship more time. Don’t ignore or attempt to minimize any red or yellow flags. Don’t believe for one minute that you can help, fix or change him. Just walk away.
  • Remember to be open to feedback. If your friends and/or family are telling you that there is something wrong, listen. The odds are good the people who love you see something to which your eyes may have been blinded. If you find yourself defending him to others, there is almost certainly a problem that you are working too hard to overlook. On the other hand, if people see someone genuine and emotionally healthy, then let it ride.
  • Remember that you don’t want or need a man. You want to share your life with one man – the right man, a man who will see you and prize you and love you for the rest of your life. Pray for him. Wait for him. And if you don’t meet him, maybe it’s because the time isn’t right, or you are just fine all by yourself. Being on your own is far better than feeling perpetually stressed, unhappy or emotionally neglected, living with someone who doesn’t truly love, enjoy and appreciate you. And you might want to avoid kissing any frogs until you are pretty dang certain that there is a prince in there.
  • Remember that you don’t want to just be with someone you love; you want to be with someone with whom you are in love – someone who is also in love with you. I believe there is a profound difference. I am not talking about obsession, which is unbalanced and unhealthy and controlling, but a love where there is connection, commonality and chemistry. Wait for someone you know you want in your life for the rest of your life.

Busting Myths About Being in a Relationship

in a RelationshipHere are relationship myths that we need to break.

Time for yourself is as important as the time for your significant other

You would think that being in a relationship will require spending a lot of time with your partner. But, personal time is still of great value. I sometimes lie to my boyfriend that I am asleep when in fact I am reading the latest book by my favorite author. Don’t get me wrong here. I love our times together, but I also give importance to the person I am outside of the relationship. How do I balance that? It is just a matter of telling him that I need time to fawn over my books and TV series. He will understand you, trust me.

When you are not in a relationship, your time is yours alone. Being in a relationship requires that you will have time for your significant other as well as for yourself. So if personal time is important, why do I still want to be committed to somebody? The thing I love about it is that you could get meaningful and valuable time both ways. You get to spend time wisely on top of being happy doing things.

Grooming is important inside and outside of a relationship

They say that a good boyfriend does not care about your flaws, physical look included. It is true. The boyfriend does not mind that I forget to comb my hair or not put on makeup. Unlike when you are still hunting for a partner, you need to place the best foot forward by looking good. It is as important as being confident. Clearly, it is terrific to have someone appreciate and love everything about you, stretch marks and all.

But, there is a misconception about grooming when you are in a committed relationship. Love me regardless of how I look. This may be a sweet and ‘awwwe’-inducing statement, but grooming is important when you are single or not. It is for your personal hygiene and good health.

Texting and communication are not only focused on the significant other

You may think that for the completely single and in a casual relationship, text conversation list is a hodgepodge of parents, work and endless unidentified number of random hookups and crushes. At some point, it is also true to most people who are tied down except maybe for hookups and crushes. Couples have each other on top of the list in line with work or school contacts and their parents. But they also have millions of messages from friends.

Busted! Relationships have its highs and lows. Some misconceptions are just it. It is a matter or setting limits, being honest and compromises.

5 Ways a Dating Relationship Can Cause Women Heartbreak

5 Ways a Dating Relationship Can Cause Women HeartbreakHeartbreak in a dating relationship can be a very painful thing.

It can cause you to act differently and it can push you to do and say things you normally wouldn’t. It can also cause you to forget and neglect the things that are most important to you, such as family, work, and ultimately your destiny.

Heartbreak can cause you to completely change, and lose hope of ever having a good relationship again.

While I think it’s important to take a break from dating if you’ve recently experienced heartbreak, I do think it’s possible to love again in the future.

I can say this with 100% confidence because I’ve had my heart broken numerous times; but when I took a break from relationships and learned to understand who I was, I found love and I have been married for over 16 years to the same man!

While we all will probably face heartbreak at some point in our lives, there are some things that you can beware of when dating. Below you will find 5 ways a relationship can cause you heartbreak.

If you can identify them then you can prevent yourself from experiencing another painful relationship.

1. Unmet expectations – Most women enter their relationships with hopes of being happy, safe, secure, and loved unconditionally. But when their expectations don’t line up with her boyfriend’s expectations this can cause conflict, disappointment, and even anger.

2. Betrayal – In most cases there is an expectation that her boyfriend will be faithful, but when he cheats it can be hurtful, especially if the woman has given herself sexually to him.

3. Circumstances – Life happens, whether it’s death, job loss, the person moving, or just an attitude change. When unexpected situations occur and you’re not prepared to deal with them, you can be tempted to become heartbroken, especially if this circumstance brings an end to the relationship.

4. Fear – This can lead to heartbreak because if you’re ready to take the next step and your significant other is not ready for a marriage commitment, this can hurt. If you’re not careful, you could allow him to string you along in the relationship for years, only to tell you that he no longer wants to be with you.

5. Not asking the right questions – Often when you’re in love and you want to believe the best in your boyfriend, it’s easy to avoid asking questions that are critical to a healthy relationship.

So you continue in the relationship, and when you find out some things that could be damaging to you and the relationship, you’re faced with a 2 choices:

• Try to work it out
• Walk away

Either way, you must make a decision. But it can be difficult, especially if you have shared so much with him physically, emotionally, sexually, and financially, already.

Often times we find ourselves heartbroken because we expect people to become so much to us. We tend to put pressure on people to become something they could never be. And then when they disappoint us we tend to believe that relationships are worthless.

But that’s not the case. Relationships can work if you learn how to work them.

Relationships take work, but there are some things you need to do in order for them to work effectively. If you want a good relationship, you must do your part.


Things You Should Have Said to Your Long Time Crush to Make Him Notice You

Crush to Make Him Notice YouCrush– a word we are all too familiar with. We all have that one (or a couple of) guy we have been attracted to the longest time. It may be because of his looks, personality or interests. Regardless, we badly want to go out with him and try to see where things are going.

But, the biggest hurdle in finding true love (or just to hangout) is that we are lost for words as we look into his beautiful eyes. Okay, maybe that is too mushy. Yet, we still fail to talk to him because we all got tongue-tied, like always. Here are some of the sure-fire things to say that will make him notice you.

“Yes, that movie freaks me out. Maybe we could watch it together!”

When you have the chance to talk about the latest movie, grab the opportunity to ask him out. Modern women are known for turning tables when it comes to relationships. So, don’t be afraid to ask your crush out with this subtle, but cool statement.

Be sure you don’t spring it up suddenly while you meet him in the hallway. He may be creeped out and lost your chance on him.

“I think you have an amazing smile.”

Boys love compliments more that they would admit. Who wouldn’t want to be appreciated? This is an adorable and less freaky way of letting him know you find him attractive. This may make him smile more often and it is nice knowing that you placed it there. Every time he does, he may also think about you.

“You just made my day… more interesting.”

If he made you laugh, or if his presence just makes you happy, then tell him. This may or may not be a sure way for him to notice you. But, who knows, you may have made his day too. That is some beauty points for you.

“That was pretty awesome or You were pretty awesome there.”

We all want affirmation and appreciation for the things we do. So, if your crush is out there showing his thing (presentation, dancing, singing, etc.), don’t just simply say congratulation. Make him notice you by saying unique ways to show how great he is work is.

“That is definitely your color.”

Even if you think he looks good wearing a potato sack, this will let him know that you are interested or the very least, you exist. When you and your crush does not run into the same circle, this comment is a safe way of saying that he looks attractive.

Your heart deserves to be freed from the what ifs. But, if things don’t work out like you wanted it to, maybe he isn’t just the one for you. You can always try these tricks to more crushes you will meet in the future.