Serial Cheating Aftermath

19 Nov

Dear LetterBalm: A year ago, I finally summoned the strength to leave a long relationship with an emotionally abusive man who had been unfaithful to me with many different women. My friends are happy for me, and they’ve been busy suggesting eligible guys. I’ve also begun to (carefully) meet a few men through online dating sites. But I find myself not willing to give dates a chance. At the first sign of imperfection – five minutes’ late for a date, a mistake in grammar – I chalk the guy up as a loser and move on. I know this is because of my previous boyfriend’s serial betrayals and the mark they’ve left on me. What can I say to friends who want me to get out there and have fun? I’m in therapy now, which I don’t want people to know, and I want to take things slow.

–Dating with Caution

Ms. L.B. admires your resiliency. Not many people would have such a clear-eyed assessment of the residual effect a bad relationship can have on them. You are moving at your own speed, working through trust issues with a professional. And, by the way, be aware that your private judgment of your dates may project an air of independence and indifference – you’re the “unattainable woman” – which may drive some men to pursue you more ardently. You owe no one a detailed explanation. To your friends, keep it simple, appreciative and heartfelt:

Chantal, I want to thank you for being so concerned since Rakeem and I broke up. It shows you are a good friend. My relationship with Rakeem was so damaged that it’s taking a long time for me to recover. But I must tell you that I’m taking things slow, even a year later. I’m moving at my own speed, at what is comfortable for me. Rest assured that when I break out and party, you’ll be there. Until then, please cut me some slack. I’m counting on you to ask everyone to respect my wishes and not push me before I’m ready.  

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