I am twenty three and I haven’t had any long-term relationships (I am still young, I know) but my problem is on how they end. My longest one lasted six months. I have had a total of three boyfriends and all of them have turned out to be jerks. They cheated, they ghosted, they got tired of me and started distancing themselves.
Do I have a problem? Why didn’t any of them end things in a good way but decided to hurt me instead? My former boyfriend (of 5 months) said I don’t open up easily (but ghosting me was not the solution). I just need more time than the average. Should I open up even though I am not prepared myself? Or how do I find someone that listens to me as I need them to? How do I not loose hope? I feel like everyone is going to hurt me.
Do you have any tips? It is not that I want a relationship to last for years, I just want to know when someone is going to hurt me or what I have to change in myself for someone to bet on me, to have patience.
I have been reading you since I was 16 and you are like a big sister I can turn to when I need to hear some wisdom about love, style, or life :)
How do people come into our lives? Do we chose them? Is it totally random, or does the universe pick them for us? And more important, how to not get hurt?
My friends and I were hanging out the other day. We were chatting about men, and one of them was telling us that basically from what she’d seen, all men are cheats. My friend and I looked at each other and, with as must softness as we could, responded: no, not really, that’s not what we see.
It made me realize how different life experiences can be.
It also made me realize how much we tend to attract the same person over and over again until we break the spell.
I am lucky.
I have a dad that’s loyal, respectful, loving. He’s the first man I loved. When he disappointed me (because all parents do… since they are humans), miracle of miracles, I found a therapist who was a man and who was loyal and who truly helped me.
And then along my life, I have mostly met men that where loyal, respectful, and loving.
Therefore my experience is that I trust men.
The one time I got cheated on, I kept my trust in men intact. Sure, for a second I went there. I listened to some of my friends telling me, “once a cheater, always a cheater” and “all men cheat” but in my heart I had trust that this was an accident. I took a risk, followed my gut, made my boundaries crystal clear with him, let go of my pride for a second (HARD), and the relationship lasted for years without anything ever happening again.
Trust was rebuilt. My vision of men, repaired.
Dear Maria, since you consider yourself like a little sister, I am going to talk to you as a big sister. I want you to do two things.
First, find men around you that you can trust. Doesn’t have to be your dad. Men who know how to love. Men who are loyal and courageous. I know it’s hard to believe they exist in the climate we live in right now, but there are so many of them. They are all around us.
They can be right there in your family or they can be people in magazines or in movies. One of my men is Paul Newman. Read about him. A wonderful example of an imperfect yet beautiful, loyal, loving man. Work consciously on that.
The other thing I want you to do is to start the process of finding self-love.
Now look. Self-love doesn’t come in a day. It’s kind of like a mirage. You walk towards it, thinking you’re close – and it escapes you again. Self-love is the work of a lifetime, which is why I think it’s important to start today.
Get to know yourself. Learn to love solitude. Find simple things that make you truly happy. Practice boundaries. Say no. You can start with friends. No, I don’t feel like going out tonight. Explore your body. Find simple ways to make it vibrate. Explore your mind. Say yes to yourself first. Pleasure yourself first. Pur yourself first. Trust yourself first.
From this safe place you slowly created inside you, you’ll be able to open up. Don’t force yourself to do it before.
Do things in your own time.
Relationships are like mirrors, and that’s why they can be so hard. They bring up all our insecurities – to a point where sometimes our boyfriends are the ones we’re the least authentic with, trying to show a face that’s much more polished than the real us. I know I do that and of course, at some point, I crash.
There are millions things I would like to tell you about love, but I want to keep it short and easy. So start with these two things. Work on them consciously.
And don’t beat yourself up.
The right person will come in time.
Your experiences, happy or sad, only have value if in the process, you learn about yourself. This is the only way you won’t live a life on repeat.
So, say thank you to the shitty experiences, learn your lessons, and kiss them goodbye.
Inside yourself is a brave, shiny, self-actualized young woman who will undoubtedly find love.
Because love is inside her, and all around her.
Hello! Welcome to “Dear Garance…” where Garance answers readers questions in her monthly newsletter! You can sign up for the newsletter here to read Garance’s monthly advice. And if you have a question you’d like Garance to answer, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage questions of all types; love, relationships, family, personal dilemmas, the meaning of life, and of course, career.