Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column dedicated to solving all your romantic problems, no compromises.
This week, our resident sexologist, Isiah McKimmie, helps a woman finding it hard to trust men and how it keeps her from finding love.
ASK: I’m finding it harder and harder to trust men. I think it’s everything that has been discussed in the media and in public since #MeToo and the stories of sexual assault, violence and misogyny. I feel more tired of men than ever and it’s affecting my ability to find a relationship. I am suspicious and afraid that I will choose a man who has bad intentions and treats me badly. I know so many great men – my father, my brother and some close friends – but I get scared when I meet new men. How do I stay mindful and alert while being open to new relationships?
REPLY: The fear of voting for someone who isn’t right is a real dilemma. I can understand feeling suspicious and not wanting to make a wrong choice.
Relationship dynamics are changing
This is a powerful moment in time. Realizing that what we have accepted as “normal” for so long is not acceptable, women are standing up and speaking out.
Women expect more when it comes to dating, around approval, and more in their relationships. I hear more discussions between couples about shared responsibilities. People choose to be alone instead of living in relationships that don’t work for them.
I also want to acknowledge that men say it’s a challenging time for them too. Many don’t want to go wrong and feel unsure of how best to approach women with norms changing so rapidly.
Unsuccessful relationships can make us suspicious – and tired
The older we get, the more negative experiences we have in dating and relationships that can tire us. We know good people exist, but finding them can be exhausting and difficult.
How to avoid getting into a relationship with the wrong person
Your questions reflect the dilemma that many of my clients have shared with me. Here’s the advice that has helped many of them find happy relationships.
1. Do the “work” on yourself
Reflecting on our own patterns, emotions, and beliefs can help us prepare for a more successful relationship. Many of us will find that we have a “guy,” a similar type of person that we get into relationships with — even if it’s not healthy.
We may also find ourselves stuck in relationships that aren’t right for us because of these beliefs and patterns. Consciously changing these patterns and beliefs makes us available for healthier partners and relationships. Visiting a therapist can help.
2. Understand your attachment style
There are four different attachment styles that we all belong to. Everyone has their own “default setting” for how we show up in relationships.
Our attachment style can affect what type of partner we choose, what our needs are in a relationship, how we communicate, and what type of partner we are attracted to.
Understanding your attachment style can help you break through any negative relationship patterns you may have.
3. Take things slowly
We all want to find the right person for us, unfortunately our urgency to do so can sometimes get in the way of our good judgment.
Especially when we have an insecure attachment style, we can jump in and catch feelings too quickly, making it harder to end a relationship that isn’t right.
4. Learn to say no quickly
The reality is, you can’t always spot someone with bad intentions right away. But you can learn to say “no” once you realize someone isn’t right for you.
Most people who have been in a relationship with a narcissist, misogynist, or abuser say they had concerns early on but missed the red flags.
Don’t doubt yourself. If someone is uncomfortable, say no as soon as possible. You don’t have to give anyone the benefit of the doubt.
5. Keep your heart open to the right person
Dates are hard. Relationships hurt sometimes. But happy relationships are a strong predictor of improved health and happiness.
We can also learn to be more resilient and to take care of ourselves when things aren’t going the way we want them to.
You have good men in your life, so I don’t need to tell you they exist. Stay open to possibilities.
Isiah McKimmie is a couples therapist, sexologist, sex therapist, and educator. To book a session with her, visit her website or follow her on Instagram for more advice on relationships, sex, and intimacy.
Originally posted as “I can’t trust men since #MeToo and it’s ruining my love life”