When I first left the abusive relationship I was sure I never wanted another boyfriend, ever. For a while afterwards this was the case. It was so freeing and new to be on my own just the kids and I doing things my way , making my own decisions. I’m still enjoying it years on , so much so I still can’t imagine ever being in a serious relationship , I certainly don’t think I could live with anyone again.
Now and again though I do think it’d be nice to have someone special. An actual grown up to spend time with , a bit of affection perhaps even a bit of romance (I know high maintenance eh?!)
The thing is after you’ve been in an abusive relationship, dating is a minefield. There’s so much scope for old anxieties to resurface , to fall back into negative thought patterns. I can only tell my story but there really are a lot of hurdles to overcome.
One of my main problems when I’ve given dating a shot is that it highlights how skewed my view of myself is and how the damage that was done in all the years of living in an abusive relationship is still apparent. Compliments are difficult for example. If someone tells me I look nice or I’m funny or anything positive at all I dismiss it instantly. They’re just being polite I think or even worse they’re thinking I look terrible and are having to lie. That’s a really warped thought pattern , I know that. The thing is being told you’re fat and ugly and disgusting everyday for years on end is going to have an impact.Years of being told that noone would want anything to do with me , I’ve 4 children and the body to prove it , has left me guarded. Trusting when someone tells you you’re fantastic is a risk , you believed someone when they told you that before and look how that turned out?
My next boyfriend is going to have to be the world’s most patient man.
Then there’s *whispers* sex ssshhh. Another mental minefield. Another thing associated with trauma. Along with the body worries there’s also the fact I’ve not done it in AGES!! What if I am rubbish at it ?! I worry I’d zone out mid event as was the way I got through it back then. That’d be fun eh??
The next guy is going to need to be so patient he would make Mother Theresa look a bit cranky!!
Then there’s the big one. Trust.
It’s not what you think either , it’s not that I don’t trust men or that I think they’ll all treat me terribly. I really don’t believe that to be true . I don’t trust my own judgement though.
I’ve always said my perfect boyfriend would be someone who was happy to just see me once a month for dinner and romance and the bedroom stuff , with more time in the school holidays when the kids were away! Good plan eh?
I know this is an unrealistic scenario. Men I’ve known have wanted to move along quite quickly and it put me off straight away.I’m certainly not ready to jump into anything with both feet. I don’t know if I ever will be.
So you see dating is a tricky game to play for me . I like meeting new people , I enjoy the company of interesting men and I hope one day I will have my Mr Perfect in my life ….it’s just the actual dating bit I could do without!!
It turns out though, the only way to get over all the hang ups is to actually get out there and do it! Practice makes almost perfect. Bad dates are as helpful as lovely ones.
The bad ones help you realise that your self esteem has grown to a point that deciding a person is just not right for you is OK.
The good ones? Well if like me you’re naturally suspicious of men as a species after bad experiences, there’s hopefully going to be someone who comes along and presses the reset button. Who has you decide actually this is the benchmark for the future.When someone is respectful and kind and thoughtful you kind of make an internal deal with yourself that this is the only way you’ll stand to be treated in future. It doesn’t have to be love of your life stuff (one step at a bloody time) but just enough to make you set the bar high.
We’ve been through the mill and not treated well enough, but that really doesn’t have to be our lot.
Setting high standards isn’t a thing of arrogance it’s self preservertion.
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