Woman picks jerks who treat her badly
By Carolyn Hax
D ear Carolyn:
I tend to get treated badly by jerks. Often, it's my fault — there are obvious signs of jerkiness, and I proceed without caution. Other times, it's out of thin air. Most recently, it's a combination.
While I'm not sad at the loss of this person (we weren't serious), I can't shake the feeling there must be something terribly wrong with me, because every person I get involved with sees fit to treat me like the equivalent of dog doo on their shoe. I mean, I'm the common factor here, right? How can it not be about me and my quality as a person?
— Human Dog Doo
Easily. You've made a false connection: that treatment reflects the quality of the recipient. It reflects the quality of the giver. That men mistreated you speaks ill of each man who did so.
You are the common denominator, and you do have a role in your treatment: You're the one choosing these men. The “something terribly wrong” is that you're missing or ignoring warning signs and are possibly in a bad enough place emotionally for mistreatment to be your comfort zone.
Exhibit A: You're seeing your role as “person worthy of shoe-doo treatment,” when there is no such role.
You're not bad, your taste is. Or, more constructively, your screening process is — and that can trace back to points in your history that shaped your emotional needs and expectations.
Whether you do it in counseling (recommended, if you can swing it) or on your own, please tease out what you've found attractive in all of these men, and let that lead you to the why.
My son “Justin,” 28, has been with his girlfriend, 27, for more than two years. She is ready to get married and is putting pressure on him. He, however, can't seem to move forward.
I think, well, she must not be “the one,” because he always has looked forward to marrying and having children.
Justin thinks living together would help answer all the questions that have kept him from proposing. He thinks it would be a nice trial run.
I am fearful. Thoughts?
— Concerned Mom
Living together can help couples pre-marriage, but the risk of an inertia marriage is too high to treat it as a “test.”
If she asked me, I'd beg her to rethink the pressure. A good match will want what she wants.
If Justin asked, I'd ask him: Does she know she's a “nice trial run”?
As a mom privy to her son's thinking, you can call him out on his self-serving logic. Please do. He might have persuaded himself that he's being kind to his girlfriend by looking for reasons to marry her, but he's not. Kindness is to be prompt and honest in facing one's doubts.
In your case, once you've said your piece, kindness is to trust him to run his own life.
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