How Do I Create a Good Relationship When I’ve Never Had One Before?

Dear Neil: My life experience proves that all men are alike: they all disappoint me in the end. So why try to have a good relationship with one? There’s no sense in getting close to a man, because he’s going to leave me eventually. In my last relationship, I wanted to know everything he did when he was away from me. I figured that my jealousy proved how much I cared for him, but that didn’t matter either.

I am who I am, and that’s who I’ve always been. Even when I’ve tried to be different, I’ve always ended up in the same place, even though I don’t really want to be where I am. Nothing I do seems to make any difference, and now so many years are gone, it feels like it’s way too late. Can you help me with where I’ve gone wrong with men? I have lost all hope, but I am only 31, and I would like to believe differently.

Given Up in Florida

Dear Florida: You have fallen into several mind traps, and that’s in part why you’re feeling so hopeless. Let me recount the mind traps you just described:

  • The “I can’t change” trap. I am who I’ve always believed I am. There’s no use trying to be different.
  • The “Seen one, seen ’em all” trap. My experience proves that all men/women are alike. I know they’ll disappoint me in the long run. There’s no sense getting close, because it won’t work out in the end.
  • “Stuck without choices” trap: I have to be where I am, doing what I’m doing—even though I don’t really want to be.
  • “Cynicism” trap. Nothing I or anyone else does makes any real difference. Life always disappoints.
  • “It’s too late” trap. What’s the use of trying to change? I’ve already wasted too much time and I’d probably fail anyway. If I somehow were to become successful, I’d hate myself for not having started earlier.
  • The “Jealousy” trap. I’m afraid you’ll leave me for someone else. I want to know everything you do while you’re away from me. My jealousy proves how attached I am to you.

These mind traps, described in Tom Rusk’s book Get Out of Your Own Way (Hay House Inc. Publishers), are all self-defeating attitudes that keep us stuck in familiar ruts. He says that people fall into these traps by believing they’re worthless and destined to fail regardless of what they do. As a result, it’s easy to go to self-sabatoging attitudes generated by self-doubt and poor self-regard. But they can be changed.

Changing self-sabotaging attitudes requires a willingness to stand back and observe yourself. It requires having a faith in yourself and an openness in considering that you may be more than you think you are—and better than you have been in the past. It also requires vision and curiosity to imagine the ways you would like to change and be different. With those, Rusk recommends that if you’d like greater closeness and intimacy in your life, explore the following:

  1. Are you consistently respectful toward the important people in your life? Are they respectful toward you?
  2. Do you make effort to understand their feelings, emotions and point of view, even if you don’t agree? Do they do the same for you?
  3. Do you freely demonstrate love to the people you grow to care about? Do they accept your love?
  4. Do you show others that you care? Do you accept it when they demonstrate that they care about you? In addition, I would add:
  5. Do you make time for other people? Enough time?
  6. How much do you open up and share your inner self? How responsive are you when someone else reveals his/her inner self?
  7. Are you a good listener?
  8. In a relationship, how romantic are you? How affectionate?
  9. Do other people feel your presence? Do you look others in the eye and give them your full attention?

All men are not alike, and most will not find a jealous woman appealing to be around. But it’s not too late to try on a different set of behaviors and attitudes. So I would urge you to not give up, to overcome your disappointment and to go out there and try again, this time with a more hopeful energy.

2 comments on “How Do I Create a Good Relationship When I’ve Never Had One Before?

  1. Hi!
    Thank you for this post.
    I have a question myself About this post.
    All Guys end up leaving me.
    Just because ‘they just don’t love me’.
    I try to be responsive as in, when i am with them i ask questions like ‘do you like television-show ‘x’, ‘ what’s your favorite movie from when you were little and what attracties you to it’ and so on. Not to highly invasing but stil personal. But i feel like they are the ones not responsible to my questions. They don’t enjoy them and rather nag about it.
    I won’t show extra intrest when they are on vacation. I text them once a day telling them i hope they have fun and ask them how they are. But not to much because i like to give people space (you go only few weeks on vacation on a year..).
    What can i do to improve?

  2. I never been in a real relationship. I always work have my own home and car. I don’t have or hang with many females friends. I have been in 5 so called relationships and they all have left me in the end. 3 have robbed me before they left. And they all left me for another woman that they aren’t even wit till this day. I don’t meet in bars or websites. I thought it was just my bad luck. My last relationship was 11 yrs. We both worked and traveled and we had custody of his daughter 8 yrs that’s now 14 yrs old. We got engaged 2 yrs ago. We both decided we wanted a big wedding so we got a joint account and saved. Just last month we counted our savings and decided to just elope in Vegas. And spent the rest wisely. Well 3 months ago I found out I had cancer. And his car broke down. I transport him to and from work. A month ago. He told me he didn’t need a ride home from work cause they were having a get together for an employees bday. His normal shift is 4 pm to am. I asked him if he wanted me to pick him up at 6 or 7 am he said he would get a ride. 5:30 am he called n said they were still at work having fun. I went to work at 7 am like I always do. I did not hear from him.(we live in same home 10 yrs) this was not normal to not hear from him. I call right to voice mail. My job is round the corner from his. I went to his work thinking he was arrested or hurt from that night. His boss told me there was no party and they closed at 4 as usual. I went back to work. He still no answer. I text him and told him I knew of his lie and we needed to talk this text was sent bout 1pm. I got off work at 3 got home he had moved all his belongings out. I went to his work at 4 he didn’t even want to talk he told the staff to call the police on me. I cried and asked him why and he told me I was lucky that he was even with my ugly ass this long. And he told me I should be happy he left me $500 in the account. The account had $13,408 the day before. I work fulltime and make more then him. Hes part time makes less. The money don’t hurt it upsetting but the fact we had a life together for 11 yrs and u walk away on a Saturday for a woman u just met that wed.(people at his work told me she started working there that wed).. its been 2 weeks and nothing. Its like I never exist.

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