Am I sabotaging my relationships before they even begin?
First of all - I've (52f) been in intensive therapy for a few years to help process an extremely abusive childhood and traumatic adulthood. It's been a rough go but I'm much happier and I've come a long way in how I deal with relationships of every sort. I haven't yet addressed this particular issue with my therapist and would appreciate some feedback before deciding if it's a valid thread to pull.
I've been single the last few years after a 30 year marriage. I'm happy on my own and don't "need" company of any sort really. But I've been working really hard on my attachment issues so I can be ready for "best friend love" should I ever bump into it. I use dating apps and have met several high quality men I could be interested enough in to spend time with. I've been recognizing a pattern that I think I'm still repeating. I am one of those people that is able to focus on the good and accept everything else (as long as it's not a dealbreaker). I figure if something isn't my preference, I can simply choose to accept it and be grateful someone feels comfortable enough to show me their real selves. I don't see the value in focusing on little things in a negative way or trying to manipulate someone into changing simply to suit my preferences.
The issue, (I think) is that I realize I'm doing this too much in the beginning, which when mixed with the honeymoon stage, makes me believe this person is "perfect" for me. By the time I see them more realistically, I'm attached to someone that isn't actually good to or for me. I keep ending up in relationships where I don't feel valued, chosen, or appreciated. This is not a fun place to find myself, especially knowing I'm the common denominator. I'm better about recognizing it earlier and letting them go but it's an exercise in painful frustration that's getting me nowhere. So I'm asking myself if I should be going into a new relationship with a more discerning eye? I don't want to be jaded, bitter, or judgmental, but I also don't want to keep repeating this cycle.
I don't think I'm wording any of this right but I hope somebody out there understands what I'm asking and has some experience/insight.
Mamabear, you're correct, there's no value in trying to change someone to suit you, just as there's little value putting in too much effort with trying to find that right guy. The right guy will come along one day, and you need to focus on yourself and just get on with living because if you're living your life serenely and happily, then you will be in the right frame of mind for your next relationship.
While you 'punish' yourself and end up frustrated about it all, it's affecting your demeanour and your sense of self worth. There's less chance of being chosen and appreciated from guys on dating sites, however high quality, where it's all neatly packaged in black and white but it's their grey areas which trip you up. You have more of a chance with meeting the right guy, and without even knowing it at the time, when you simply bump into him, and eventually discover that he shares your interests and goals as well as your values.
Your therapist would more than likely be able to assist you further with this.
I would actually consider this to be healthy behavior....somewhat. Letting the little things go in the beginning is a good approach so you can really get to know someone. The part that you need to work on is the early stages of infatuation. You may need to remind yourself periodically in the beginning not to get too attached and to take it slow.
Of course you should be discerning, but realistic.
Every potential partner that comes your way is going to have baggage – kids exes, financial status, health issues, and some kind of a past. They also are pretty much settled in their ways - much as you are.
Women can become very independent as they age. That’s a good thing . Just remember: men are the frosting on the cake, they are not the cake. So it’s OK if you date casually, there’s no need to latch on to someone permanently or exclusively right now. Try to remember that every man you go out with you don’t have to marry. Find healthy boundaries for yourself and for that person to.
Ask your therapist how to sharpen your ability to chose men who have healthy mental and emotional temperaments. Find potential friends/partners where you have your interests, such as an art class or outdoor sports.
Above all, this should be fun. Keeping it light and casual ensures that.
Thank you for the helpful replies AKA and SusiedQQ. I think I do need to address how I'm choosing to meet and go from there. This has given me much more clarity and it always helps to know I'm not completely off track. I have a session tomorrow and feel much more confident I know which threads to pull to keep old patterns at bay. THANK YOU!!
*who to meet is what I meant. I always start with conversations before deciding who to meet face to face. I need to do better in that part of the process and then again when/if I decide to focus on any one person. I may get the hang of this yet. :)