Victim or savior?

Joey Garcia

I dated a girl for about a month. There were red flags: lectures I couldn’t grasp the point of, exaggerated focus on herself, a litany of illnesses, and switching topics to odd things just when we were bonding. Then, on my birthday, she said she was too overwhelmed to offer anything and dumped me.

I figured she’s scared of intimacy. I thought maybe she’d see I’m good, that I wouldn’t hurt her or demand unrealistic things. I e-mailed her for the next six months. I moved on and was dating until she accepted my offer of help with household chores. She flirted, and I got attached again. She pulled me in with sex and promised not to run away. Three months later she dumped me.

I was still hoping that if she could only see that I am good, she would open up and let me love her and thus love me back. Instead, she found everything wrong with me. My research shows she’s got a combination of personality disorders. Should I say anything to her or just walk away?

Should you clue her into your diagnosis of her psychological state? Ah, no. Keep that bit of trivia to yourself. Instead, channel your intense curiosity into discovering the answer to this: What inspires you to be so self-abusive? You chose to ignore the blatant red flags. You pretended to have moved on after the one-month relationship ended but actually stayed attached by e-mailing her and offering to help with chores. You blame her for flirting with you and criticize her for being willing to have sex with you. Yet, you yearn for her to recognize you as “the one” and anoint you as her lover. It seems you can’t decide if you are her victim or her savior.

You need a new perspective. Stop obsessing about her, quit researching her supposed personality flaws (ahem, who is finding everything wrong with whom?) and turn your generous attention back to yourself. Why are you so desperate to prove that you are capable of loving someone? Particularly someone who is not interested? You must begin to treat yourself as someone of value.

It’s a sick game to imagine that this woman is damaged (“scared of intimacy”) and then decide that if you love her enough she will change, be eternally grateful to you and express that appreciation by loving you forever. It’s also an unrealistic demand, something you said you don’t make. So, try this: The next time you meet someone who is scared of intimacy, respect her choice and move on to someone who is ready for a relationship.

My friends and I are fascinated by what you have written about casual dating and want more information. Is sex involved in casual dating?

Is sex ever really casual? Perhaps if you’ve hardened your emotions and hidden your higher consciousness, you can pretend to be purely reptilian. Most humans who tout casual sex suffer, beneath their bravado, from sex addiction or terribly stunted emotions. The rest of our species tends to bond, emotionally and chemically, during sex. That means if you have sex too soon in the dating cycle, you may bond to someone who is not right for you. Postponing sex allows the relationship to develop intentionally.

My boyfriend is often so negative that he feels toxic. Help!

An occasional bad mood is normal. A permanent bad attitude is a call for professional help. If you comfort your man by agreeing that the universe is hostile and that he has it bad, you help him cling to the beliefs that inspire his suffering. If you accentuate his positives, he’ll probably accuse you of not understanding him. So, take care of yourself by giving him room to rant—alone.

Meditation of the week
“Adopt the pace of nature,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Her secret is patience.” What situation or relationship in your life needs a big dose of patience? In this recklessly fast-paced culture, what should you be willing to wait for?

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