I’m probably a tad older than your typical readership (36) and have been on my journey to get better at dating/women/relationships for a long time. While I’ve certainly improved, I do still struggle. I’m about 6 months out of a relationship that really wreaked havoc on me. I’ve come to realize that one of the consistent factors in most of my relationships is that I end up playing a care taker role for people who are more than happy to have me care for them. In the end my needs end up taking a back seat to those of my partners.
Now, at this point a little bit of background would probably be helpful. I am an only child and grew up with a father who was emotionally abusive to my mother (I was spared his aggression, but I understand the trauma of witnessing it). My mother was, and still is, a pretty fragile person. She attempted suicide once before I was born and once when I was a teenager. My mom unfairly confided in me as a kid and I became her confidant and care taker. So, this role is one that is well worn for me.
My question is, how do I stop attracting people who need a care taker? A number of friends have told me that one of the first things that they noticed about me is my kindness and compassion. It worries me that I may be putting something out into the world that screams, “I’ll take on your burden”. Now, I should also say that I don’t think I come across as a doormat and I have a strong identity, but what am I doing wrong? I’ve actually brought this up with my therapist and he basically said that eventually I’ll start recognizing the signs earlier. I found that to be a pretty dismal prospect. What are your thoughts?
– These Wheels Be Spinnin
Your break up sucked. Sure, your relationship had it’s problems, but so does everybody’s, right? But hey, you put all that behind you. You’re past the “hiding in your own apartment, listening to angry music and writing bad poetry” stage. You’ve quit complaining about it to all of your friends. You can get a beer again without breaking down into tears about your poor broken heart.
But you’ve survived. You’ve worked past the pain. In fact, you’re stronger now than you ever before. Whatever doesn’t kill you better run motherfucker, amiright? For the first time in you don’t know how long, you’ve got your head on straight and you’re in a really good place.
And then after all that pain and sorrow, your ex just waltzed right back into your life. A bit tentatively at first; a ping text or two trying to reconnect with you. A request to reconnect on Facebook. Then, as you think that maybe you should be willing to be friends with your ex, you’re finding yourself increasingly in contact with them. A couple of e-mails back and forth. A hesitant, awkward chat over IM. Maybe a phone call.
And you know what? Sure, you got really fucked over by that break up but things are feeling… pretty good, actually. Sure, you’re both a little gun-shy but you seem to be on good terms here. Almost like old times, really. In fact, it might just be your imagination, but you could swear that you detect a little bit of that old spark.
Sure, there was a lot of anger and built up resentment after the two of you broke up, but maybe, just maybe… you’ve been given a second chance.
But should you take it?
Today we have a treat for you: a new Post Mortem, and our first from a woman! Today’s examination is all about the one who got away, date gone disastrously wrong, and the series of poor choices that lead to where it all went wrong. And of course, the tough (Nerd)love to help ensure that the letter writer doesn’t make the same mistake again… even if that requires metaphorically smacking the stupid out of her.
Dear Doctor Nerdlove,
I really hope you can help me in time.
That’s never a good start…
Ok, so I’m going to *try* to keep this short,
but it won’t be.
I’m a girl, I’m 24 and I just had my first one night stand – I think. I hope.
Um… unless roofies were somehow involved, usually it’s pretty easy to tell whether you’d had your first one-night stand or not…
Since you’ve admitted to having some wild years, you’ve probably had your fair share of one night stands. I need help with the etiquette surrounding the situation. Specifically regarding the dude wanting more out of it then I do. I don’t know, but I’m freaking out a little and maybe it’s nothing, but I need some advice.
I’ve been doing the whole online dating thing for a couple of weeks now and it’s been fun. Messaging a bunch of guys, flirting, going on a couple of fun dates that went nowhere. Last night I had a date with a guy who was pretty boring in his emails, but also the hottest guy I’d been messaging. Good compromise, I thought.
You thought wrong, I’m guessing.
Your first mistake: assuming that looks were going to be a sufficient compromise for a personality. It’s tempting to throw standards to the wind when you have a shot at a Ryan Gosling look-alike, but if they have all of the intelligence or presence of a box of rocks, you’re going to find that those cheese-grater abs and dreamy brown eyes lose their luster pretty damn fast.
The date was at night and I took the bus so I could drink.
Mistake #2: Not having a mode of transportation that you can access when you feel the need. It’s one thing if you live in a major metropolitan city with 24-hour mass-transit, but I can already see this going badly. “Oh no, you missed the last bus! Hey, maybe I should give you a lift home. Hey, wanna stop by my place first for a nightcap and visit to my dungeon?”
Also: considering that it’s your first date with someone you barely know, getting so drunk that you’d be unable to drive is a bad idea. It’s a bad idea in general (you don’t want to act the fool on a first date and risk ruining things) but it’s especially dangerous for women. Better to err on the side of sobriety than end up drunk with someone you really aren’t sure you could trust.
I already knew that *if* I was going to sleep with any of my dates on the first date, it would probably be him. I already had two shots at home, just for some Dutch courage.
Pre-gaming a first date is a bad idea under the best of circumstances. Just sayin’.
(Important extra infomation: the dating thing is entirely new to me as I was a latebloomer and had my first boyfriend at 20. We dated for three years and I’ve been single for a year now. Up until I started online dating, I hadn’t even really thought about other men besides my ex. I am not over him in the slightest. He started dating again, so I figured I should too… Flirting with other men has definitely helped to distract me from my ex, but I’m still in love with him and his being with other girls breaks my heart…)
OK. First of all: actively dating – even some meaningless sex – is a great way to get over an ex. Keeping tabs on his dating life: not so good. This is part of why I advocate the Nuclear Option when it comes to break-ups; it’s admirable to want to remain friends after the break-up but you’re going to need time and perspective to heal. Having constant reminders that he or she has gotten over you or is moving on with your life is great… if you enjoy picking at scabs and making sure they never heal.
The last thing you want when you’re working to recover from a break-up is to be constantly deluged with jealousy and pain. Cut him out. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get back in touch with him when you’ve actually managed to move on.
So the worst has happened. Maybe you knew deep in your gut that it was coming. Maybe it came out of the blue and took you by such surprise that you literally can’t speak. She sat you down on the couch and broke the news to you. She told you in a restaurant to make sure you wouldn’t freak out on her. She didn’t want to face you so she sent you an e-mail. She was so cold and callous that she sent you a fucking text message.
You’ve been dumped.
Hey, we’ve all been there. You know you’re not alone in this. You know there are others out there who’ve got it worse than you. But knowing that doesn’t really help, does it? In fact, in some ways it makes it worse; sure, in the abstract, your life is pretty fucking good. But the pain feels worse because, goddamn it, it’s yours.
So right about then you’re feeling at your absolute lowest. You’re going through the motions, haunting your own life like someone who doesn’t know it’s time to check out. And despite everything, you just can’t seem to manage to move on, which makes you feel even more pathetic, which makes you feel worse, which makes it harder to move on… and so the cycle continues.
Well it’s time to snap the fuck out of it, son. You’re a pathetic sniveling wretch right now and though they’re not going to want to say it, even your friends are getting tired of hearing you whine about it. It’s time to man the fuck up and get your life back. Oh, I know you’ve been doing your best. But how’s that working out for you huh? Yeah, about what I thought.
Fortunately for you, the doctor’s here with his prescription for getting over that breakup and getting on with your life.