I’ve Been Hurt By a LOT of Men. Should I Give Them Another Chance?

I just found your site and believe yours is the only answer I’ll really listen to. I’d really appreciate your help. I am only 22 years old. Not really looking to settle down anytime soon. But when it comes to dating, I’m completely naive. Even considering my age. I wasn’t allowed to date at all until I was 19 and even then, I was only allowed to date one creep because my parents fell for the nice preacher son routine. I, of course, jumped at the chance because I thought any date was better than no date. And at 19, he was my first kiss and my first sexual experience… But he never meant anything.

During what seemed like a particularly hard time in my life, I met the classic selfish jerk that’s all talk and no follow through. He put me down and manipulated me every chance he got. Being as inexperienced as I was, I just assumed that was normal and dealt with it. My confidence, of course, plummeted. A year later I moved with him to another state. However, when I was finally able to prove my suspicions of his cheating, I broke it off. I remained in the new city because I did like it, and I didn’t want to run crying home.

About a month after that, I was raped. I was drugged and don’t remember much. My ex, being the only person that I really knew in this state, was who I confided in. He told me that all I was good for was sex anyway and laughed at me. He was the only person I told. From there, I just started sleeping around. I guess some part of me believed him. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I didn’t feel like I was coping with anything. It was just sex and I cared about these men as little (sometimes less) than they did me.

During this time, I actually – accidentally – stumbled upon a real tried and true nice guy. He didn’t let me use him. He was there for me. I realized I didn’t want to sleep around anymore. Well, it turns out this is a much smaller town than I thought and men have much bigger mouths than I thought. I’d slept with two of his friends before I met him. I understand him not wanting to be with me. He didn’t judge me. It was just a hard situation.

Since then, I’ve kinda sworn off men. I’m happy single and while I do one day want to meet a nice guy again, I’m terrified. I know I don’t have to give out my “number” but in this town, it seems inevitable. I don’t know how to explain my actions in the past without getting into the full story. Most people still don’t know about the rape and I’d rather keep it that way. I’d rather be gossiped about and called a whore than a victim. A friend of mine (more of a sister actually) for some reason has become really invested in my dating. She finds me guys that seem nice but I rule them out fearing I’ve found another jerk or another guy who will be hurt by my past. She begs me to just let them take me out but I don’t really see the point. I don’t feel wounded, just a little cynical I suppose. Is she right in saying I need to give guys a chance? Like I said, I’m only 22. It just doesn’t seem that pertinent.

Amanda

Dear Amanda,

You sound very intelligent and self-aware and I appreciate your honesty.

Moving on is not as easy as snapping your fingers and putting trauma behind you…

So let me tell you a few things that went through my head in response to your email. And remember, I’m not a psychologist. I’m a dating coach who tries to provide perspective when people are too close to their problems.

Here’s what I see:

You’ve been burned by men, which gives you every reason to be wary of them. Moving on is not as easy as snapping your fingers and putting trauma such as rape, infidelity, and emotional cruelty behind you. Your experiences are very real and very painful and they’re bound to shade your whole view of the world.

Just please don’t let them determine it….

You definitely have a hard-earned cynicism about men, and who could blame you? But as you know intellectually, not every man is as bad as the ones you’ve encountered. It would be a huge mistake to blame each new guy for the sins of the men in the past. Tom shouldn’t have to pay the price for the boorish behavior of Dick and Harry. There’s nothing wrong with taking a dating hiatus (or a guy-atus, as my sister once termed it.) But realize that, eventually, you’re going to need to get back out there.

You will be tempted to close off to everyone you meet. You’ll continue to separate sex and emotion. You’ll break up with men before they break up with you. These are all common and reasonable responses to what you’ve gone through. Just know that you’ll never find love until you open yourself up emotionally. There are tons of nice men out there who would be lucky to have you, but if you shut down or make them prove that they’re not bastards, they may not stick around. So take it slowly and realize what you’re worth. If you, in any way, believe your ex’s claims that you’re worthless, you are setting yourself up for another broken, unequal relationship.

Sometimes, reinvention is the best remedy for a tortured past.

Surround yourself by trusted friends and family. Do things you love – working out, painting, weekend road trips with friends. Get back to being the happy young woman you once were. Then, open yourself up to your friend’s set ups. You’re not entitled to like any of the guys, but if they’re coming pre-screened, at least you can feel a little safer around them. And, to play it safe, don’t have sex until you have a commitment. This will protect you emotionally from any of the heartbreak you’ve felt in the past.

I can’t tell you how much it hurts to read letters like yours, Amanda. I’m sure everyone reading this wants to help you in his/her own way. I don’t know how tethered you are to your hometown (school, job, family, friends,) but it seems to me that you might need a change of scenery. As a guy who couldn’t get any girls in high school, all I needed to do was go to college, 500 miles away. Same guy, different location, different life. Sometimes, reinvention is the best remedy for a tortured past.

Like everyone else, you’re a product of your environment (late bloomer, strict parents, small town,) but that doesn’t mean you can’t transcend it. You can literally DROP all of those things from your former life and start fresh. You are not your past. You are your future. You are whatever you choose to be.

Choose confidence. Choose optimism. Choose therapy. Choose to dump men who don’t give you what you need.

We’re all the sum total of the choices we make. Keep choosing wisely and nobody can stop you from fulfilling all your dreams.

Good luck and stay in touch.

If you’re a woman who has gone through similar experiences with men and is ready to drop your past for a new future, it is my honor to show you a new path to love.

Click below to learn more about my private coaching courses, which will give you a new lease on life within weeks:

www.evanmarckatz.com/coaching/one-on-one/

Much love,

Evan

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Damie

    My advice is give YOURSELF a chance first. It seems to me that finding a man right now is the least of your worries. Of course we all want someone nice to snuggle up to, but there is a time and a place where you have to put yourself first. I agree with Evan about the therapy. It can help you see why you make the same mistakes over and over and help you avoid them in the future. Heal yourself first and find happiness within, then it will be a lot easier to pick out a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Good luck! :)

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  4. 2
    empathetic

    Amanda -

    My heart went out to you as soon as I read your letter. So much of it resonated with me in that your experiences echoed many of my own.

    I too came from a sheltered household. I started late & was particularly nave about dating, and so after my first big relationship crash, I decided I’d “take control” and “harden myself” for the dating world.

    I started experimenting with casual sex with just about any man who showed the slightest interest in me. I let men coerce me into sexual acts that made me feel uncomfortable, to put it mildly. I stayed in relationships with partners who were manipulative. One actually praised me on my ability to “take” his cruelty, and pathetic as I was, I ate the compliment up as though it were a Pullitzer prize.

    The cumulative effect of all that behavior is a tortured history: I was date raped by one man, impregnated by another whose last name I can’t even remember, and psychologically abused by several. I once even found myself sleeping with a mentally ill man who stole things from me. It took therapy and learning to forgive myself before I was receptive to the idea that nice men actually exist.

    Getting over the pain required that I learn how to be KIND to myself. Part of being that way involved CHOOSING good men as a way of rewarding myself and REJECTING bad ones that I used to punish myself with. It took a sort of retraining of my reflexes to the point where the men who used to set off wedding bells in my head became the ones who set off the alarm bells. (You have to take responsibility for having chosen these guys in your past, not that you don’t already. As soon as you do that, you’l realize you have the power NOT to choose hurtful partners in the future.)

    I stumbled once or twice and broke promises to myself along the way, getting involved with one or two bad ones, even while on the path to reform. The key is that I learned to self-correct out of those situations more quickly and I stopped kicking myself for making mistakes.

    Don Miguel Ruiz – same guy who wrote The Four Agreements – wrote in another book that the key to letting go of pain is to FORGIVE those who have hurt you in the past. Just do it in your head. You don’t do it for their sake, but for yours. You do it because if you don’t, then every time you remember what those bastards did to you, you make yourself suffer through the pain as though living through it all over again.

    Evan’s right. A complete reboot of your life is what’s in order. You could stick it out in your present town, but recovery will come faster if you physically/geographically get away. The further you can distance yourself from your past, the better. Don’t think of it as running away from your problems; think of it as running TOWARDS your new and improved future.

    I jumped at the chance to respond to your letter because I want you to know you’re not alone. Also, I want you to have hope. I did meet a wonderful man and we are happily married today- ready to start a family. I dated a handful of other nice men along the way.

    There’s no rush to start dating again (maybe try being just friends with men to restore your confidence in their goodness?) But whenever you’re ready, approach each new one with an open mind, and with caution too.

    Good luck!

  5. 3
    stella

    Amanda, your ex is an INSECURE entity. He just couldn’t accept the fact that YOU LEFT him! What a pity:( So girl if anyone tells you that you’re worthless, don’t believe them because they are just unconsciously vocalizing what they think of themselves.
    I’ve never been raped and don’t wanna be either but I believe being a “victim” is nothing to be ashamed of. This doesn’t mean that you’re weak or whatever you think you are. You are a sweet, trusting person and it’s not a sin to be this way. It is just that there are lots of “evil entities” roaming around the earth in human form. So sad and sorry for the experiences that you’ve gone through.

    Mr. Katz really does give great advices. You can learn a lot too from Damie & empathetic.

    Life is difficult and very complicated that’s why I analyze it in the simplest way I know how or else I’ll go crazy. Sometimes life is very cruel too and you know what’s my greatest weapon, prayers.

  6. 4
    Jes

    Amanda,
    Evan was right when he said “You are not your past. You are your future. You are whatever you choose to be…Choose confidence. Choose optimism. Choose therapy. Choose to dump men who dont give you what you need.” I hope you take his words to heart, seriously.

    I haven’t been in your same situation, but I have had things that are little road bumps, but they felt like mountains. The best thing I ever did was start over. I stopped looking at the past and feeling broken. I started looking at the future. I perged like there was no tomorrow. Most of it was stuff, material and emotional, that I had been hanging on to for so long. I thought that it was a badge of honor. But it wasn’t, it was the thing that was holding me back.

    Therapy has helped signifigantly. I promise you that it’s not going to be easy. You are going to have to face somethings that you might have been supressing. But once you do it, you will feel so much better.

    Once you know you can, learn who you are again. I forgot who I was, and i didn’t like the person I had become. I went back to my roots and started doing things that I once loved, but had dropped.

    No one can give you the perfect answer. No one can wave a magic wand and make it all better. But with a little work on you and a little time, things will be good again.

    Good Luck!

  7. 5
    Barb

    Amanda,

    You *deserve* to be happy. I know that may sound trite coming from a total stranger but it is true and I hope some day you will acknowledge that. I hope more people tell you that each day.
    Good Luck!

  8. 6
    Mark Firehammer

    It’s a beautiful thing to see how much compassion strangers can show toward others, who have just shared difficult details about their life and experience. Our hearts and positive thoughts go out to you Amanda.
    At Compatikey we are in total agreement with the final advice Mr. Katz gave you.
    “Choose confidence. Choose optimism. Choose therapy. Choose to dump men who dont give you what you need. ”

    “Were all the sum total of the choices we make. Keep choosing wisely and nobody can stop you from fulfilling all your dreams.”

    When you are ready, Compatikey is a tool that will help you to identify the wisest choice possible on the invisible levels. The levels that make up the part of attractions we feel known as chemistry. Stop by when you’re ready, I will arrange for my wife Patty, the originator of the Compatikey system, to personally guide you in the use of this powerful tool. It’s on us.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Firehammer, CEO Compatikey.com

  9. 7
    Amanda

    I just wanted to thank you for your advice. While moving isn’t an option I do feel I can get past this. I’m doing more things I love and doing them with people I love. I feel more confident already just having a plan and a goal. I was completely blown away with peoples comments as well. Thank you so much for your stories and support. I didn’t expect that at all. While, I never lost faith in people, I feel like less of a freak knowing that, even people that haven’t been there, still sympathize with me and take the time for encouragement. Thank you!

  10. 8
    Ryan Hilario

    Focus your energy on other things that matter. What really matters at this point is your well being and your mindset. Change it and overcome certain obstacles that your facing. What you have doing is going into something and doing a take away. Taking away something was taken from you when you were taken advantage of. Don’t get back at men rather get back at what makes you happy excluding men. once you have won and conquered yourself the right guy will come. don’t search for men search for those inner desires and passions that make you happy. failures and mistakes are good but repeating them leads to a downward spiral. you will have self realizations but its really up to you if you want to move forward or look back. qualify yourself and stop qualifying men.

  11. 9
    Amelia

    Yes! If I were you, I cannot survive without men’s love.

  12. 10
    LNY

    Dear Amanda:

    Try doing EFT: Emotional Freedom technique. I know it works miracles.Or get yourself a pet. You will experience loyalty, love and regain faith in the universe through them. Truly.

  13. 11
    Pat

    You need therapy

  14. 12
    *yawn*

    Wow. My story completely. I thought I was the only naive young girl out there who continued to trust people before they gave me a reason to and ended up assualted and in abusive relationships. Please see a psychologist, it’s hard to break patterns on your own, but it can be done. And trusting people before they’ve given you a reason to is a beautiful quality to have, but a dangerous one when you have no one protecting you. Protect yourself, sweets: you won’t find out how to do it on the web, you’ll find out how to do it by talking about your experiences and processing your thoughts with someone qualified to understand them. Best wishes, there are bright things in your future and you DESERVE to be loved.

  15. 13
    Matthew

    Writing from the guy’s perspective… I’m so sorry to hear about your story. It made me cry to both read it, and to think on realizing first hand how common your story is. Recently, I’ve fallen in love with a young women who pretty much echo’s everything you talked about… Dealing with that as a sensitive, maybe an oversensitive guy is probably the most difficult thing I’ve done. Having to prove, then convince her that she’s not a project to be worked on and fixed, but a shining star in my life to be held and cherished above all others on this earth… One thing I always keep in mind though is no matter how broken, how ‘screwed up’ she thinks she is, she’s a shining star in my eyes… and that’s what matters. My advice is that there will be a guy out there who will want to understand, will want to be a shoulder to cry on, a friend to talk to, and he won’t care how broken you are. Look for that guy, and for your sake and his, give him a chance. You may be surprised at how grateful, how loving, how caring some guy might be some day. The guy that every girl calls a great friend… And maybe, that friend will come out and shine for you too.

  16. 14
    Celina

    Amanda,
    Wow, it’s as if you’ve written my story. I am 22 as well and have experienced pretty much the same thing, so you are not alone at this part. I wish I could give you some advice, but I’m struggling with the same as well. I can’t agree with Evan more though, keep focussing on yourself and determine what’s important for YOU. 

  17. 15
    judy

    Learn to heal first – psychologist, for example, or even, try writing out an analysis sheet of your own, what boyfriends offered you (In the way of love, etc.).
    You MUST learn to trust – but sweetheart, you have to know how to trust yourself, be confident in yourself, before you can do that.
    I was physically aggressed too and it took me years of trying to get stable until the day when a girlfriend said, very sweetly, “If you give in, he’s won”.  Post it somewhere.
    You WIN – he loses.

  18. 16
    judy

    Amanda, this is another Judy speaking (we’re two of us on here).
    After reading your predicament – I was deeply saddened.  By how you were treated by both men. 
    I like Evan’s advice to you.  Relearn self love.  If you can, move out of the district.  Try recreating your own image – not as a raped woman, or as a worthless woman, but as a great self-loving woman.  You could even draw it as a visual reminder.
    Just a thought – don’t tell any men that you were raped.  Apart from a therapist.  Apart from the man you want to marry.
    For some pig arrogant swines, rape means you deserved it, and that it means nothing and that you brought it on yourself.
    This is complete bullshit.
    You deserve love.  Decent treatment.  A fresh start.
    Get ready and go for it.
    With love, Judy
     

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