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| || || | Is it some sort of trend among single women? Colleen* says that three guys she’s dated have gotten married shortly after their breakup — one guy she dated just a few times, one she dated for four months, and one she was with for three years.
Same for Jody, who dated Frank for four months. Five months after they broke up, he was engaged to someone else. Meanwhile, she met and dated Tom for a short while. And then only a month after their breakup, he had a fiancée. “My brother-in-law jokes that the next guy will get engaged to someone else while we’re on our first date,” says Jody.
Susan says it has happened to her, too — three times. And it was so demoralizing, she decided to stop dating altogether.
So what gives? First, experts hasten to point out that this phenomenon cuts across both genders. But, focusing on women who have been left for the altar, let’s hear what the experts have to say. First, says love coach Johanna Lyman, “People don’t like to be alone. And men may be less well-equipped to handle it than women because they’re not taught to be introspective. So they may quickly move on without really looking at why the last one didn’t work out.” Katherin Scott, author of The ABC’s of Dating: Simple Strategies for Dating Success, says that a breakup may shock a man out of his inertia and into action. He may go back to school, change careers or move out of his mother’s basement — whatever modification he was overdue for. Then he’s in a better place to find someone truly compatible.
The truth is, learning to find the right person is a skill we need to hone. “We’re supposed to magically stumble upon the perfect person, fall in love and live happily ever after,” says Scott. But as anyone over the age of 12 will tell you, that’s just not the way it works. Both partners need to be crystal clear about who they are, what they want from a relationship and what they can give to it. Only then can they find the partner who will be satisfying to them in all aspects. “Ask people what they want in a car and they can tell you exactly, down to the upholstery color,” she says. “Ask what they want in a partner? The answer will be much more vague.”
So how do you get clarity? You could talk to a good therapist or a dating or life coach, or even consult a good book. It’s not necessary to spend a lot of money; it’s only necessary to take a good honest look inside. In the process, says Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist in New York City, “You’ll probably find that that last person didn’t have what you needed.” This is helpful for two reasons. One, you can stop feeling like he married someone else because you screwed up, and two, you can move on to someone who’s truly more fitting.
Another issue, according to dating coach Scot McKay, is that the woman (or man, of course) may simply not be ready to be a good partner. This would undoubtedly doom any relationship. McKay, who met his wife and business partner Emily on Match.com, offers some helpful questions to ask yourself: Do I genuinely think there is someone out there who will make me happy? (If you hear yourself saying things like “All men are dogs,” you’re going to have trouble trusting any of them.) Do I apply a double standard? (As in, it’s okay for me to flirt with the waiter but my boyfriend is not allowed to look at any other women.) Am I a trustworthy partner?Do I have the self-esteem to go after a partner who can really meet me halfway? Am I willing to help a partner pursue his dreams? If you find any of these questions tripping you up, again your approach should be some self-scrutiny until you can get to a place where you are clear about what you want and are ready to be a good partner.
Still, a strong, accomplished woman who’s genuinely capable of a good partnership and who knows what she’s looking for may continue to be alone. Here’s where a slightly controversial idea comes in. “I sometimes need to remind women who are very independent and self-sufficient to embrace their feminine side,” says Ann Robbins, a certified professional matchmaker and a relationship coach. Why? Because, says Robbins, every heterosexual couple needs a male and a female counterpart. And just as a woman wants to feel needed in a relationship, a man does, too. It can be as simple as letting him carry your heavy bag when he offers or supporting him emotionally through a tough time. “Being soft doesn’t mean being weak or mindless or a doormat,” she says. It’s absolutely possible — ideal, in fact — to be strong and feminine at the same time, she says. The key is to strike the balance, because that balance is very attractive to men.
The good news, says Lyman, is that it’s never too late to find a good relationship, no matter what has gone before. Her advice? “Find the lesson in your experiences rather than beating yourself up over them. Once you [do that], you don’t have to repeat them.”
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at MetroSexual LA
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