Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred.
This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie helps a woman who finds it hard to trust men and how it’s stopping her from finding love.
QUESTION: I’m finding it increasingly hard to trust men. I think it’s everything that has been in the media and general public conversation since #MeToo and the stories that have come out about sexual assault, violence and misogyny. I feel wearier of men than ever and it’s impacting my ability to find a relationship. I feel distrustful and scared that I will pick a man who has bad intentions and will treat me poorly. I know so many great men – my dad, my brother, and some close friends – but I’m afraid when I meet new men. How do I remain careful and alert while also being open to new relationships?
ANSWER: The fear of choosing someone who isn’t right is a real dilemma. I can understand feeling wary and not wanting to make the wrong choice.
Relationship dynamics are changing right now
This is a powerful moment in time. Women are realising that what we’ve put up with as “normal” for so long, isn’t acceptable and are standing up and speaking out.
Women are expecting more in dating, around consent, as well as more within their relationships. I’m hearing more discussions among couples about shared responsibilities. People are opting to be alone rather than in relationships that don’t work for them.
I also want to acknowledge that men are saying that it’s a challenging time for them also. Many don’t want to get it wrong and feel uncertain about how to best approach women with such fast-changing norms.
Unsuccessful relationships can make us wary – and weary
As we get older, we’ve also “racked up” more negative experiences in dating and relationships that can leave us jaded. We know that good people are out there, but it can feel exhausting and hard to find them.
How to avoid getting into a relationship with the wrong person
Your questions echo 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 prepare us for a more successful relationship. Many of us will find that we have a “type”, a similar kind of person that we end up in relationships with – even if it isn’t healthy.
We can also find that we end up staying in relationships that aren’t right for us because of these beliefs and patterns too. Consciously changing these patterns and beliefs makes us available for healthier partners and relationships. Seeing a therapist can help with this.
2. Understand your Attachment Style
There are four different Attachment Styles that we all fall into. Each has their own “default setting” for how we show up in relationships.
Our Attachment Style can impact the kind of partner we choose, what our needs are in a relationship, how we communicate and the kind of partner we’re attracted to.
Understanding your Attachment Style can help you break any negative relationship patterns you might have.
3. Take things slowly
We all want to find the right person for us, unfortunately our urgency to do that can sometimes get in the way of our good judgment.
Particularly if 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 won’t always be able to spot someone who has bad intentions right away. But you can learn to say “no” as soon as you realise someone isn’t right for you.
Most people who’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist, misogynist or abuser say that they had concerns early, but overlooked the red flags.
Don’t doubt yourself. If someone doesn’t feel right, say no as quickly as you can. You don’t have to give anyone the benefit of the doubt.
5. Keep your heart open for the right person
Dating is 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 take care of ourselves when things don’t go the way we want.
You have good men in your life, so I don’t need to tell you that they’re out there. Stay open to possibility.
Isiah McKimmie is a Couples Therapist, Sexologist, Sex Therapist and Lecturer. To book a session with her, visit her website or follow her on Instagram for more advice on relationships, sex and intimacy.