10 October 2017

How To Stop Dating Dickheads

During the five years I was single, I was never really alone. I went on many dates, met many men who were a man by age but a boy by maturity and more than often these boys overlapped. Don't get me wrong, there were nice guys but, for now, they aren't worth pointing out in this post, and I sure as hell didn't give them the time of day then.

There was the traveler who  I started hanging out with before my long-term relationship broke down in my early twenties. He then took a year abroad at uni – although it continued on and off whenever he would do me the grace of being in London for longer than two months and wasn't living in the back of a campervan, growing his hair until it was the same length as mine.

There was the old flame who popped up almost once a year for five years when his relationships were in the gutter and he needed assurance, which unfortunately I gave.

There was THE PR who breadcrumbed me for TWO YEARS. There's a reason why 'breadcrumbing' has been coined worse than ghosting; there was never promise of any sort of relationship but he always gave enough attention to be in the forefront of my mind. I allowed myself to be strung along and I almost lost my mind because of it. My self-esteem was in the gutter. He made me feel worthless and as if I wasn't good enough every single day for this period.

In hindsight, he's more than likely a sociopath. He's also very attractive and I feel terrified/sorry for every woman who has he has ever met/will meet in the future.

I then revisited my failed, long-term relationship. Can I get a L-O-L.

I'm aware you're here for advice, not just a play by play of my dating history. To round it up, I started 'seeing' – whatever that means – a guy I considered one of my best mates and something of a mentor. To cut a long story short, it obviously went tits up. I started to feel similar feelings as I did to the PR guy and I had two choices - a 'breakdown' of sorts or to head to therapy to try work out what was going on/wrong.

I can't promise magic but I met my boyfriend, who I have been with for over a year, within the same week of ending my relationship and my friendship with the 'best mate'.

I wasn't looking for him. If anything, I was trying to lap up all the newly found freedom I'd felt lifting the weight of dating dickheads for the previous five years. And, importantly I should note, it wasn't all smooth-sailing. My boyfriend will never let me forget the first time he tried to kiss me in public and I blocked him saying, "I don't do PDAs, sorry" or a month later when this then turned into, "I don't really do relationships." However, he was patient and fairly quickly, I learned the beauty of vulnerability.

Go grab a pen, paper and a cup of tea. 

The first thing my therapist asked me to do was write down a list of the qualities I'd like in a partner. I'm not talking brown hair, brown eyes, 6ft 5", big biceps, well-endowed etc (although one can dream) but more general qualities. For example, the first thing I wrote down was that I wanted to be a priority in my imaginary partner's life. The next quality I wrote was loyalty. And so on.

There's a reason for writing it down. Writing down the list cements your belief in the need for these qualities for a happy and healthy relationship and that is the first step to finding the right person.

So, go on, I dare you. Dare to dream and write down your (realistic) perfect partner.

If you're dating someone who you aren't sure is right or you've been seeing someone but again, it's all a bit unsure, pick up your list and check off your current partner to your 'perfect' partner. Now you've recognised what is it that you want, you'll be a lot more aware and unaccepting of what you don't want.

I found when I did this cross-check against 'the best mate', he fitted none of the qualities that I regarded important and it was only then that I realised I needed to end the relationship.

There are so many other things that come into play such as self-esteem, self-worth, confidence, timing. Obviously, this is not a cure for all dickheads but it's a great place to start.

Disclaimer: This isn't a post aimed at those in an abusive relationship or to get out of an abusive relationship. National Domestic Violence Helpline can be reached on 0808 2000 247, 24/7 or similarly LWA, who support those suffering from mental or physical abuse can be reached on 0300 365 0112 during office hours.
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