DEAR AMY: I’m a 28-year-old woman who has been trying to find love for her entire life, but no luck! I’ve been trying online dating for the past few years, but I always get dumped — or the guy tells me that he doesn’t want a relationship. My last heartbreak was a guy four years younger, telling me he didn’t want anything serious or long term. I’m up against the wall! The guys on online sites seem weird. I feel like no one decent talks to me on these sites. I have no one asking me out offline, either, and I’m concerned because I just hate being single. Why can everyone else find someone — but not me?
DEAR LONELY: I’d like to point you toward a few course corrections:
First of all, you are not the only person in the world without a partner. Some of the personal factors that make you feel lonely now — your insecurity, desperation and habit of blaming others — will still be present after you’ve met someone. And potential matches can detect your desperation and negativity a mile away.
Flailing around on various matching sites will not yield anything different until you make some real and solid personal changes.
The trick here is to stop looking for a period of time, and make a commitment to work on yourself. You should examine your childhood, your parents’ relationship, your typical dynamic in friendships and look for patterns that you can consciously disrupt and improve. Meeting with a counselor might help.
Remember that the first and most important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. If you learn to love that person in the mirror, you’ll be less lonely, judgmental and cranky.
You should also work on forming and keeping female friendships. Friends will help you to navigate these challenging passages; they will introduce you to people, prop you up and tell you honestly when you are being a jerk.
You need to learn to live your life as if you will not find a forever-partner. Develop your professional skills, and commit to finding good work. Dive into the real world. Join organizations, and find opportunities to give generously of yourself.
DEAR AMY: My husband has cancer, so I’m trying to give him some leeway when he calls me “stupid” and tells me to “shut up.” He didn’t start doing this until after my dad died, about 12 years ago. I guess it’s my fault for letting him get away with it for all these years. Our children are now parroting his comments. I’m ashamed of myself for allowing this to happen. When I ask my husband not to call me stupid, especially in front of our kids, he says he only does it when I act stupid. I have a very good job where I am given a lot of responsibility and respect. I can’t believe my husband thinks this is OK. He makes me feel so inadequate. Your advice?
DEAR HAD IT: I’m trying to see the connection between your father’s death and your husband’s verbal abuse. Perhaps the removal of a symbolic (or actual) authority figure from your life triggered this domineering and disrespectful behavior from your husband.
Now, you need to be your own authority.
Unless your husband’s illness has affected his behavior or cognition, I don’t see why you should continue to give him “leeway” when he tells you to shut up or calls you “stupid.”
It is a sad fact that over a decade of this treatment has left you feeling inadequate, when in reality this is revealing your husband’s inadequacy and insecurity.
You should start demonstrating that this behavior is unacceptable. When your husband does this, do not engage him or attempt to argue the topic. Stay calm and say something like, “This language is demeaning; it is unacceptable. You need to find a better way to talk to me.” And then remove yourself from his presence. Do not tolerate this from your children. Verbally abusing you harms you and them.
DEAR AMY: “What May I Say?” was wondering how to describe her ex-husband’s philandering to friends. I have a girlfriend that was married for 30 years to a guy like that. When she finally left him, I asked, “What took you so long?” She burst out laughing and replied “OMG! That’s what everyone is asking me!” Trust me, no one will be surprised. Everyone already knows.
DEAR READER: I suspect you are right.