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Posted by: Emmy | 2007/02/26

Problems with relationships

Morning all

This is going to be long, so I apologise in advance. I just really need to share this morning! I am mid-40s, divorced almost 10 years; I have a lovely teenage daughter who is the mainstay of my life. My divorce years ago shattered me mentally and emotionally:I lost the man and home I loved and the family life that I cherished. I had to start all over again from the bottom. It nearly wrecked me; I started drinking heavily. When I stood on the brink of losing my daughter (6 at the time) and my job, I took a long hard look at myself and saw a neglected, overweight alcoholic. So I booked myself into rehab, and I've never looked back. Today ( 8 years later) I can proudly say that I am sober, thin, fit and healthy; I look and feel better than ever before in my life. However, I suck at relationships. I have not had a relationship with a man since my divorce, and the few occasions that I dated things never went beyond one or two dates. People are always telling me I am pretty and attractive and that I look much younger than I am (healthy lifestyle!), yet something about me seem to make men run for their lives. I am a very private person, I have no close friends and I prefer solitary activities; I am a natural loner. So I also have hardly any social life; I hardly ever go out because going to plays and movies and restaurants on my own is just too pathetic. (I can't count on my daughter for company any more; she has a huge circle of friends and a very active social life of her own. She will not be like me, thank god.) I have a lot to be thankful for; a home of my own, a good job, a lovely stable loving daughter. I am grateful. But I so miss having a man in my life.

For years after my divorce I had no interest in finding someone new; I think in the back of my mind I thought that it won't be difficult once I set my mind to it. How wrong I was! Men are simply not attracted to me, despite everybody always telling me how attractive I am. I have become convinced that they are simply being kind to an obvious loser. A recent experience brought it all home again: I have been in love (secretly) with a divorced man I know through work for the past two years. He has always been sweet to me but has never shown any other interest. Par for the course, I accepted that. In the beginning of this year he had to help me on a project which brought us into much closer contact. At one point he asked me out for coffee to discuss the work. During the course of this coffee meeting, the conversation turned from work to more personal issues. At one point he commented on how surprising it is that I am at all single, seeing as I am so attractive. I was in heaven, I hardly slept that night. Once the project was finished, I decided to take the risk and ask him out for supper under the guise of thanking hime for his help. It took me days too work up the courage to phone him, but I did, he accepted and we went. It was a fantastic evening, and I really had hopes that something would develop from that; that he would take it further. He hasn't. I tried to keep things light on our evening together (it was after all just a thank you) so that he wouldn't cotton on to how I really feel about him, but I was obviously so effing transparent that he must have realised that my interest runs deeper than work. So he bailed. He is still sweet to me and we talk whenever we run across each other but beyond that he has made no effort to contact me.

So now I know I am doomed. I realise that I build too much of my life around my daughter; soon she will leave home and I am scared that the hole she will leave will be too big to fill. What reason will I have to get up in the morning? My job? And after that? All I can see is lonely old age with me rattling around in my lonely flat. The though terrifies me so much that my throat closes up in panic. Since my disappointment with my dream man, I have almost constantly been on the verge of tears. I have lost interest in my normal activities and must force myself to do things. It is hard to put a happy face on everything but I don't want people to feel sorry for me, least of all my daughter. She does not need to be burdened with my unhappiness. I think the attention and compliments from a man I secretly adored pushed my affection-starved mind over the edge; I allowed myself to to hope and dream and fantasize when I really should have known better. I have had many disappointments in life, and I have made a point to learn from them and move on but there must be a saturation point, that one setback that you just don't recover from. I almost feel that I have reached that point. I somehow put people off; It cant simply be my physical appearance. It must be something inside me that repels people and I can't see it, so I can't change it. I need help to become a better person. How do I move on from this? How am I going to get to the bottom of what is wrong with me so that I can change it, get rid of it? I just want to be happy, but somehow I don't know how. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

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Our expert says:
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see a good CBT - oriented local counsellor, and you can transform this situation.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: -|||- | 2007/02/26

You’ve actually got quite a cheerful disposition. Maybe no one has ever told you that before, but I think that’s a very positive to build on. “Anyhow, lets hope that when Mr Right pitches up eventually, he comes with the looks and the social standing and all the bells and whistles...haha” Way to go ! You’ve already realised that this is only temporally. You’ve only just recently consciously told yourself so. Hence all these questions about: How to go about taking things forward and What's wrong with me etc etc. Being out of the scene for ten years doesn’t change overnight. Small steps at a time and you’ll be leaping soon !!!
Best of luck.

Reply to -|||-
Posted by: Shae | 2007/02/26

Im glad youre feeling better.

As for the comments about being 'closed in yourself', we use this as a protection tool (sometimes to our own detriment), sort of like..........nothing ventured, nothing gained, but nothing lost either.

Reply to Shae
Posted by: Emmy | 2007/02/26

To -///-: What a great reply! You have obviously been there - know what you're talking about. You're right about the "Why?" question - I wonder the same thing about men who had been alone for some time. But its good to know that I have devoted a lot of time to achieving some positives in my life instead of going down the tubes; that is the route I was on in the beginning. Its the self doubt and feelings of worthlessness that need work still. I am glad I posted here today, you and Shae have given me a new perspective and a lot to think about - in a positive way. I have been told that I "need to open up, I am too closed in in myself" Still don't quite know what that really means, but maybe it links to the "hard edge" you mentioned; perhaps that is what I project automatically. Anyhow, lets hope that when Mr Right pitches up eventually, he comes with the looks and the social standing and all the bells and whistles...haha, just kidding. You guys have made me feel better. Thanks.

Reply to Emmy
Posted by: -|||- | 2007/02/26

Emmy. The moment you start believing that there is something “wrong” with you one starts projecting it. Divorce has a way of making you doubt your own qualities and worth. One of the first things I would be wondering about a woman’s situation who has been walking the road alone for ten years is “Why ??????” It may be a good thing to tell guys that you’ve, for the past ten years directed your time and energy to raising your kid and get other basic things in place like a steady job, sorting yourself out, getting to know what you want from life and that with all this in place you are ready to move on. Don’t be shy to let them know that you are not desperate to date, but you are, now with all the other stuff in place ready to move into the dating scene. Affirm this by steering clear from talking about your past. If anyone asks me about my failed marriage I simply say: ” There’s no use in us discussing this as she’s not here to tell her side of the story. It would be unfair. Unless you want to hear only my side and form a biased opinion”. People respect you for that.

Also remember that tending and fending for yourself leaves one with a way of projecting a “hard” edge. Don’t ever tell a man you don’t NEED a man in your life. Everyone needs someone. It’s being NEEDY that causes relationship problems. Be casual in your approach and take your time to get to know several guys (I'm not talking being promiscious!). Believe in the abundance theory. See a date as an opportunity to up your dating and inter personal skills rather than checking out if the guy is Mr Right. With this frame of mind you’ll be thankful for getting to know a new person, but without feeing all kinds of regrets if he doesn’t contact you for a second time. The right guy will show up. Most probably without even the looks and social standing and some other things you are currently dreaming up !!!!! :-)

Reply to -|||-
Posted by: Emmy | 2007/02/26

Shae: You know, I'm starting to feel better about the whole thing. I have not lost anything that I had before, it was simply an opportunity that did not pan out. My life is still good, and will go on without any disruption. What you say about loving yourself is so true. It is something I try and work on, but it is hard to overcome rejection such as divorce, when my ex told me into the bargain that i must understand that he is leaving me because no man in his right mind would want me. I must get perspective, that was then, when I was an emotional mess; this is now, I am different now. But loving yourself and feeling positive about yourself is very hard, and I don't think I am very successful at it. In my mind I so easily call myself things like stupid and dumbass and all kinds of other insults directed at myself whenever I do something stupid. But I still feel that there is more to it than this; other people surely have the same doubts or needs and yet all are not rejected by society, like I almost feel I am. I really need to take a long hard look at myself....otherwise that lonely old age looms! Thanks for your input, you have been great.

Reply to Emmy
Posted by: Shae | 2007/02/26

Its not a bad thing to love someone or rather to want to love someone and receive love back from them. When the latter is missing tho then its just a pipe dream. I have heard it said before that you cannot receive what you dont have to give. If you dont have love for yourself first, then you dont have it to give to anybody else. That make sense?

Reply to Shae
Posted by: Emmy | 2007/02/26

Shae: Thanks for your wonderful reply, it makes a lot of sense. And it helps to know the I am not alone! I think you are right about the signals we send out - I am always terrified of seeming needy or desperate, so I normally adopt a "don't care", unconcerned attitude. But maybe that has the exact opposite effect; maybe it sends out exactly the kind of signals that I don't want sent! Thinking about it after reading your reply, I agree that I probably sent needy signals to this man without knowing it, simply because a relationship with him was my deepest wish. Well, it backfired and I think I made a fool of myself. Thanks for your reply - your story is a lot like mine (concerning the ex) and you have given me a lot of food for thought.

Reply to Emmy
Posted by: Shae | 2007/02/26

Emmy, Im 28 and feel exactly the same as you do. I dont have any kids and my ex-fiance and i have been seperated for about three and a half years. Before i met him i was a vibrant outgoing, up for anyhting kind a gal and the i met him, the love of my life, the person i sold myself out for. I lost myself so completely and then it was over, i loved him and he loved me, but he also enjoyed other women, his paraphanalia (spelling?) and parties. So there that went and it was like i was ripped from myself. I still battle to recognise myself. It was like learning how to do everything, even simple things like smiling, all over again.

Almost four years down the line and i feel like iv just mastered the art of breathing freelyu again.

Nothing anybody could say to me will ever change that i gave away a substantial part of my youth to grieving for this man and the life i thought we'd have. He on the other hand is exactly the same charming, attractive, womanising 'man' he was back then but i just did not want to recognise that about him.

What do i do to get myself to stop thinking aboutr him (not stop feeling cos i dont think im there yet)? Well, im learning to convince myself i also deserve to be with someone who looks at me as if he's just discovered a gold mine. I dont ever want to be in a relationship just for the sake of being in one, i might miss the real deal when it comes along.

Perhaps youre just not healed enough to move onto the next step and men pick up on this. I dont know if healing does in fact come with time (i have doubted this) but i do know that i am slowly starting to feel like my own person again and that tells me that while those scars will probably always be there, they will numb with time.

Men pick up on our signals and it could very well be that you are sending out that you are needy so they bolt. Do not treat them like your hear lung machine when you initially get to know them, remember they are also just human and very importanlt, dont make them more important to you than yourself because if they pick up that you are the kind of woman that needs to be with a man then you could possibly find yourself in a situation where he is telling you exaclt what you want to hear and when he gets what he wants, dissapears. You dont want that either.

Take care of yourself, learn to get to know yourself again and take it slowly, dont do anything that you'll regret and dont give a man more than he's worth.

Be strong.

Reply to Shae

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