"I'm single at 46 and my previous long-term relationship was abusive. Please help."
I'm 46 years of age though I look and act younger. I go out a lot have lots of friends and a busy life but I've never been married and have no children. People I meet are always puzzled as to why I am single. I have had one long term relationship in my 20's which was abusive.
The longest relationship since has been about six months. I'm afraid I will be 'left on the shelf'. I worry men are only interested in me for a one night stand, I simply don't fancy them or there is no chemistry. I would love to know what I am doing wrong? I know it all boils down to confidence and I have never had much confidence with men. I want to be sexy and confident. Can you please help?
An abusive relationship in your 20s isn’t the best thing in the world to set you off on a path in life where you trust men. Your first real experience of love is that it’s dangerous. Why would you have confidence with men when you got burnt so badly when you did let yourself love and be loved? I suspect this experience (understandably) coloured your perception of men and you are unwittingly giving out signals you aren’t aware of.
Some people react to having been in a toxic relationship by being incredibly ‘prickly’ and not letting men get close. Others by dating men they see as ‘safe’ who aren’t threatening but aren’t terribly emotionally satisfying either. You say you attract guys who seem to want no-strings-sex. For this particular problem, look at what you’re wearing and the signals it sends (too clingy, too short, too low-cut, trying too hard) and/or your behaviour (too flirty, too drunk, too keen) and make any adjustments. If you’re unsure, ask a trusted friend if they think you appear ‘easy’ and listen to what they have to say.
Once you’ve got the tick that it’s not anything you’re doing, look at who these guys are and where you’re meeting them? At a pub that’s a bit of a ‘meat market’? Are they very young? You say you look younger so you might be attracting young guys who aren’t up for a commitment - with anyone. As for not fancying the guys who do fancy you, well, I think every single girl in the world can relate to that one! I think the real trick to attracting a man you want to be with is to make sure you like who you are.
Abusive relationships leave us with all sorts of confused emotions and ‘baggage’ and I’m wondering if you ever talked to anyone about it to sort it all out. (It’s not too late now if you haven’t - find a good counsellor at www.bacp.co.uk.
The other thing I would recommend is for you to read two books. The first is called ‘The Single Trap’ by Andrew G. Marshall. It’s written by a brilliant therapist and his advice is intelligent, helpful and insightful. The second is Shane Watson’s book ‘How to meet a man after 40’ which is funny but also a good practical base. The two work well together and I think you’ll enjoy reading both of them. The aim is to get you to a point where you’re very happy with who you are, so your confidence is real not fake. Good luck (and the next time someone says they’re puzzled why you’re single, tell them it’s by choice. I always find that comment so irritating, don’t you?)