A close friend of mine went through a very similar breakup 9 months after I did, but within 3 months was on online dating, announcing she was over her ex and ready for a new relationship She met a younger and superficially charming single dad who bombarded her with poetry, which (as Jane Austen would say) was so bad that it should have killed off the romance. Fast forward a year: he quit work, moved far away from his young child, and is now living with my friend rent-free so he can go back to Uni while she works full time and more to support all of them. She worries that she is too emotionally needy and that he hasn't got enough time to study in peace and quiet. I've watched him become increasingly controlling with her, and my own boys openly dislike him for the bossy mean comments he makes to her children. I've since found out he has lied to her about numerous serious matters including hiding a broken marriage and describing Uni qualifications that he doesn't have. She looked at his phone and found he's been looking at numerous online dating websites and checking out profiles. I suspect he saw a soft-hearted woman, charmed her in a time of vulnerability and is having a bit of an adventure. When I suggested to her (after some damning comments on the red flags ) that being single is actually not that bad, and it sure beats living with and exposing her kids to a man who she can't trust, her eyes filled with panic and she blurted out "But what if I never find anyone! My male friends told me to give him another go!". My heart sank... haven't we learned anything after all we've been through? Perhaps I've become the over-involved rescuer here... I just have to let my friend find her own way, though it frustrates me watching her risk her seriously depleted post-divorce finances and sanity in another unhealthy relationship. Please don't think I'm damning all men with this story, I know there are many good blokes, and many women who can be equally opportunistic and untrustworthy. I just think there is a lot to be said for a good break from dating following a longterm breakup.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. This experience has been like watching a train wreck ... my friend considers herself strong and independent yet is desperately clutching at straws to cling on to this man who doesn't deserve her. The flailing in water image is spot on.
Stemginger said 'I gave all the good stuff to my ex.' I know the feeling.
Mine did a runner on the day of our first couple's counselling session, and never came back, but was persuaded to attend counselling for a time afterwards. And what the counsellor told us from the start was that ex and I 'had colluded in a lie', namely that he was clever and I was not. I didn't understand that at the time. And years of vesting all the intelligence in another (not his fault) has made it difficult for me even to begin to hear any little voice telling me what *I* think, rather than deferring to him. It is diminishing over time as I strain to hear ME, and at moments I still fall into the trap of thinking there must be someone to rescue me.
All the same, the fear of throwing in my lot with another and losing myself (even more than the fear of vulnerability to being hurt again) make me absolutely certain that the only way to enter a relationship in future is when I have a far more robust sense of self. I am getting there.
The description you give of your friend, Vastra, makes me think she is flailing about because she would rather cling to (essentially) any old stranger than rely on herself. It is a scary feeling. I imagine it is a bit like someone in deep water who would float to safety if only they could trust themselves to relax.
Hi Vastra, I identified with your friend when reading this story - after all I stayed with a complicated man with a bad temper and terrible drink problem for 21 years. This could be me in my next relationship although my natural laziness would probably stop me from doing all the work. We have Coda Anonymous here in the UK (co-dependants anonymous) and I went to some meetings for a while - what was keeping me in my last relationship? The meetings are always packed and very helpful. Some people are really scared of being alone...that used to be me. I am single because I don't trust my judgement. Like Eliza I have been enjoying my growing relationship with myself and my self-esteem has improved since not being in a couple relationship. Instead I have relationships with all kinds of people and talk to anyone. I think I gave all the good stuff to my ex - he was the clever one, the beautiful one, the talented one. We both painted and drew but aomehow he became the 'artist' in the family. I was simply a bloody good fixer. I did keep my own opinions though as his were often driven by madness - someone was either all good or all bad depending on how useful they were to him. I also think it can depend on your age. If I were younger, I think I would have been more eager to meet someone. Now I am just too tired.
I admit I am utterly perplexed when I hear people dating immediately after being dumped. Nothing could have been further from my mind. As the yearning to have my X back gradually diminished it was not replaced with a desire to be in a relationship with another, but a growing interest in finding out who *I* am. Sometimes I surprise myself now, over three years on, with the force of my revulsion of the very thought of being part of a couple, and wonder whether this will ever change. But for now I still have a sort of horror of the sort of Cinderella complex I had in the past. For now I am very happy with my growing relationship with myself. I think I'm the one.
Seriously. I've done my bit, had my kids. I'm not a recluse. I have friends. I'm just no longer that mewling, needy person who felt incomplete without a bollockheaded person beside me. I'm finally understanding what people have always said: that you need to be happy with yourself first.
Couldn't agree more...i dipped my feet into the online dating scene but soon realised that i simply wasn't ready...having been married for 22 years i was scared and vulnerable. If i'm not happy with myself currently how could i be possibly happy with someone else in my life. So i have taken a step back focusing on me and my kids (who are young adults)and if by chance i do meet someone who i can have a relationship with then that's a bonus. The other had an affair then started another relationship with someone else...this to me is needy!