Are You Sabotaging Your Relationships?

Dear Michele,
I have been divorced for 11 years. I have tried numerous dating sites and have met a few men. But, I feel I am being too picky or just not ready to move on. I seem to sabotage the relationships before they start with silly reasons why this man is not for me and then complain that I am lonely. I no longer have any feelings for my ex and don’t know what I am looking for. I truly want a relationship with a loving man who gets me. How do I get over this problem? Is it possible all these men were really not right for me?

Confused and lonely

Dear Confused and Lonely,

The bad news is the obvious: if you keep doing what you are doing, then it is likely that you will not meet someone. The good news? You are aware of what you are doing. That might not sound significant, but let me tell you there are a lot of people that find fault with potential dates and then constantly blame the dates without ever considering they may be contributing to the issue. So, you’ve passed the first hurdle. You can’t resolve something you are not aware of, so you are at least on the right path.

Yes, it is possible that you have not met the right person. But, the fact that you are telling me that you “sabotage” the relationships over silly reasons sounds like something else is going on. There is no one “answer” as to why we sometimes want something, but then seem to unconsciously push it away at the same time. When that happens, you know it’s time to go deeper, on an internal journey to figure out the most fascinating person you know: you.

How? Start by naming the feeling you experience when you think about a potential date: fear, anxiety, trepidation. I would imagine a bit of all of those is in there. Then, stop, and ask yourself, why? What am I truly afraid of? It is possible that even though you no longer have feelings for your ex-husband, you may still have a fear of getting hurt. This would be very, very normal. Very common. Hear “ok.” It’s ok to be concerned about getting hurt again. It may likely keep you safe from getting hurt again. But when that fear gets in the way of even meeting someone, then you may have some additional healing to complete.

The only way to go “deeper” into your own internal world is to spend some time there. Spending quiet time alone, in prayer, and brining your true self to God is one great way. Writing out your thoughts and fears are another way. What is the worst that could happen from meeting a potential date? What is the best? Mediate on both, and find out which one brings you the most anxiety. That is where you need to concentrate your work.

You may need to complete some grieving about the loss of your marriage. Not necessarily the loss of your husband, but the loss of what you had hoped and dreamed your marriage would be. Or, you may have to grieve what you have never received, from relationships or even parents. Unsung mourning can contribute to anxiety and cause “blocks” in what we want in life. Do you fear becoming attached and then being left? Again, very common. When do you remember first feeling that way ? Go back to that time and mediate on what was happening. Imagine brining Christ into that scene.

Through this whole process, continue to look to God. Rather than seeking answers from him, stop and try to listen to his voice. You may try sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, or reading Scripture, or other contemplative spiritual exercises. I can suggest two books called “Hiding from Love” and “Safe People” by Drs. Cloud and Townsend that integrate Christian theology with psychology.

I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful. It was very brave of you to ask this question, and my prayer for you is you will continue to have the courage and wisdom to look further.

God Bless,
Michele Fleming, M.A.