Dating After Abuse: How To Trust Your Judgement

by Clara Wanjku

How do you trust yourself to pick a winner after picking up two back to back duds? This was the question I asked myself every time I contemplated dating again. Maybe I was the problem? Maybe I had some flawed DNA that made me a target?

You don’t really get over abuse, just through it. I was left no longer trusting myself or my ability to judge a man’s character. I knew good men existed, I had fantastic male friends. I just doubted my ability to pick a good man for myself.

It took me two years to muster the courage to actively go out and seek companionship. For two years, I refused to give anyone my number, scowled at anyone that smiled at me and told the very persistent ones I had a boyfriend. I was not ready to try again. I was scared. Not only of getting abused again, but of placing myself in a situation where I knew I was the problem. Picking a dud once or twice may be fine. Three times though? It stops being an unfortunate coincidence and becomes a pattern. One that would partly place the blame for abuse squarely on me. While I did not make them hit or insult me, I was instinctively attracted to abusive men. I didn’t want that for myself.

One day, a friend of mine told me she was worried about me ending up alone and lonely. She set up a blind date for me and I went, just to make her happy. I was scared the whole time that I had some indiscernible scar that would let him know I was a victim or worse still that I could be victimized. It would make a great story if I say we hit it off and are now engaged. We didn’t, but he was a great reintroduction into dating. I kept going on dates and finally found someone I liked.

Here is where it got tricky. I had every sort of defense up. I was always on guard to see if he displayed any warning signs, if he was just waiting to become an abuser. I nearly drove both of us crazy with my analysis of every word, every action, every look. I asked “What does that mean exactly?” very many times. Like a champ though, he stuck it out. Every time I tried to run or shutdown, or blew a situation out of proportion, he explained it to me, reassured me. He was determined to show me not every guy came into a situation wanting to hurt me. There were guys out there who wanted to be with me genuinely. Color me surprised!

He didn’t heal me or put me back together. I did that myself. He was just patient enough to wait as the glue dried and to blow on the parts that took too long to dry. I began to trust my judgment again. The hardest part though was accepting my part; having picked these men all the while realizing that this mistake didn’t define me. I am more than one bad decision, especially as I try my hardest to not make it again.

I am dating again. I trust myself again to pick a winner. I am happy again. I survived and I am starting to thrive. What more could I ask for?

  • http://www.twitter.com/ThisIsMissRae MissRae

    Everything in this article is what I been through for the past four years. I agree that you can’t get over abuse. It takes time getting through it. As for dating again, go at your own pace.

  • Lady P

    How do you trust yourself to pick a winner after picking up two back to back duds? (referring to emotional abuse). Walk backwards, turn and go in the other direction. I mentioned walk backwards because when a man is interested he will stand directly in front of you. To avoid all of the craziness, the best method is to take your time and especially wait to have sex if you’re interested in a serious long-term relationship. Not moving fast will help you calm down your emotions and evaluate the situation as is; not how YOU want it.

    But really, this is easier said than done. When you meet someone and you like them, it always starts out seemingly perfect. So it is hard to go slow. This is the actually the advantage of being involved with duds. The more you meet, the smarter you become. Not to always dip in the past, but my most recent ex is my best experience. My last dude I like to call him that old school player “smooth operator” type. This experience helped; at the same time, it did almost hinder my previous relationship. I must admit, my ex was given an advantage from the beginning.

    I had given him an advantage by inviting him into my home early on. When he gained access to my home, it was more than an invitation to hangout. It was an opportunity to gaze into what I was actually about. I had provided an added edge for commonality that actually didn’t exist as I eventually discovered. Your home is able to tell a person what you’re likes are by the books you read, decorations, movies, art, and portraits. Once common ground is created, then it easier to become vulnerable, once you become vulnerable then sex. After that, your seemingly perfect relationship possibly could be based on a lie.

    This is why for me the best method is to go slow, divulge less of your personal business as possible, and for sure no home visits. As a friend has taught me to answer fewer questions as possible is key as well. At first it was hard dating again. Once you learned to separate the bad from the good, go slow, pay attention and THINK ;), duds may be avoided. Good women and men deserve another chance for a beautiful lasting relationship.

  • iQgraphics

    and to add to your paragraph 1

    A lot of people don’t take a moment and honestly state what they were getting from their previous relationship.
    Unless you are being held captive (mentally or physically) you DO stay for a reason.

    example
    You may say, “I give and give and he/she just takes and takes” but be honest, you like to give, maybe it makes you feel needed or important…etc

    The problem with trusting your judgement moving forward has lots to do with what you’ve CHOSEN to acknowledge about the past.

  • Lady P

    I agree a lot of people do stay. People may have stayed because they just believed it will get better. You know the, “if I do this, if I do that” scenarios. Eventually you do get tired and realized there’s a better fit out there.

  • pe.riche.

    It’s been a little more than a year since I was able to get out of my abusive relationship. Since then, I have been fearful of dating again for the same fears mentioned in the article; I am profoundly worried about choosing the same type of emotionally and physically abusive guy.

    I plan on not dating for a while because I really want to find the root of why I am attracted to this type of “man”. I also want to make sure that I heal from the trauma and pain that I endured. Hopefully, I will be able to put an end to this cycle, and be able to build a trusting relationship with myself, so that I can learn to identify real men from those who aren’t.

  • November Rain

    This article is so perfect. The author put all of my thoughts and emotions into words. I am TERRIFIED of dating. I’ve experienced so much negative that I’m extremely unsure of myself now. I honestly think there is something wrong with me at times because I am 31 and my longest relationship has only been for four years and that was almost ten years ago. Since then, it’s been nothing but disaster after disaster. I know the part I played in some of those situations. But in others, it remains unclear to me. Sometimes I feel like I’ll be alone forever or that I’m not worthy of real love. I’m scared to let people in now. I don’t know what they’ll do to me or what they want from me. I’m afraid…

  • Vivian

    Reading this article had a profound effect on me. I got a little misty eyed because every word of this article resonates with me and my experience so much.

    I have been out of my abusive relationship for over a year now and as much as I may wish to be in a loving, mutually respectful and fulfilling relationship, the thought of having to go through the dating process and possibly get it horribly wrong again scares the living daylights out of me.

    I am literally gripped by the fear of finding myself in a similar situation. I am scared that if I find myself in another situation as before then maybe that is all I could ever hope to attract and that there is some fundamental flaw that I have that makes nice guys run in the opposite direction and bad guys think I am a free for all. To say I am paranoid and on guard 24/7 is an understatement of note.

    I am just trying to be as patient and gentle with myself as I possibly can. As a previous poster said I am working on trusting myself, loving myself and just being ok. Hopefully my hard work and with time everything will be right as rain…

  • Teresa

    I just want to encourage everyone because these comments have been uplifting. All this time I felt so alone and ashamed by my past decision making. I was in an abusive situation for several years. I felt that no one would understand where i was coming from. Abuse is very hard to overcome, I always felt that I couldn’t escape the deeply embedded fear of allowing a man to love me. I was always thinking the worse or I would put a wall up so high, ,making it impossible for a man to even begin to climb. I’m not alone, I have a voice. I have started dating again, its such a huge step for me. I was isolated for so many years, trapped with the feeling of no where to go. I had reach down in my soul and go through my childhood to show me new revelations on way i stayed and why I allowed to be victimized. You to be willing to go through the pain to heal. You have to open those wounds that we suppressed for many years. I needed to forgive myself and love me entirely. I’m excited for loving and learning myself. Its a hard road. I can relate to each and every comment as well as the blog. Trusting my judgement and looking for acceptance is the hardest part of the struggle

  • http://www.angstandhumor.blogspot.com Shiks

    Hugs to all you ladies. Take your time to heal and be whole. You are stronger than you know.

  • Vicki

    I love this article. When I read it, it spoke my life. It has given me the strength to trust my own judgement!!

  • marci

    I am about to go on another date with a man who is very nice, respectful and loving, verbally right on. I was married to an abusive man for 7 years. It took me 2 years to date again, after the lack of physical intimacy was too painful to bear. I rushed I to intimacy with this new guy, but luckily after 9 months we reconnected and it’s better.. Our connection is laid back and nice. Since our first round of getting to knapsack other, I quit smoking, fell in love with myself and have started finding my soul again. I’m becoming my best self and he is attracted to that about me. I even bring out the best in him as well. Ladies it will happen. Keep on healing. Love to you all. Thank you for your honest post. Captures my past fears well.

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