Question: I have been cheated on by both of my ex-husbands and boyfriends. People say....You are a bad picker of men, My first husband is on his 9th marriage. He cheats and that is how he gets his next wife. I was the only wife that he was single at the time of newly dating. He told me he loves NEW love... I should have really thought what he was saying! My 2nd ex had a very low self-esteem. He shows it in ways of buying everyone’s dinner at the restaurants, acts as if we have money, talks about all my jewelry, even fake stuff, and always helping the women in distress. His many affairs with women were all in need of someone to help them financially. A lonely old women, my best girlfriend. We were not rich, but made it paycheck to paycheck. after about 10 years of marriage he started to get every credit card available. He wined dined and paid their bills all on 10's of thousand of dollars. The bill went to his dad's house. He was a long haul driver and would take them out on the road with him. Finally my question.....How do I not pick a cheater? I want to only date a guy who has never cheated. As if they will tell me the truth. What questions should I ask? I wish I could talk to the ex-wife or girlfriends. I wish that could be a option, I can go on and on but you get my point when first dating. lol lol I could go on and on but you get my dilemma. Thank you Miss/Ms Kathleen
Dear Miss Kathleen,
Whoa! You have been on a wild ride with these cheating men and their cheatin’ ways! It’s awesome that even though you’ve been through some intense (and probably very painful) times, you still have your chin up and plenty of spunk! Bravo to your resilient spirit for rising back to the surface and wanting to get out there and try again.
Also, bravo for your smart insights: realizing that when your first husband said he “loves new love” it was a major red flag (seriously, who doesn’t love new love?! That’s when our imagination does all the work and we can believe any fantasy we want without having invested ourselves in a genuine way at all).
Plus great insight into your second husband’s low self-esteem causing him to purchase everyone’s dinner and mis-represent the amount of money (and jewelry) you both had. Sounds like you were proud of what you had already, even though you were living paycheck to paycheck, which displays much more confidence than he had.
With insights like this, you are already well on the way to being a full-on self-realizing woman. And as you know, if you’ve read Smitten: The Way of the Brilliant Flirt, the self-realizing woman is the most likely candidate to find the best possible match for her unique self.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty: You want to find a man that has never ever ever cheated. You want a guarantee that if you’re going to brave a new relationship you will not get hurt in this way again. This makes total sense. Of course when your heart has been banged up by a certain “type”, you want to avoid that type at all costs.
But at this particular point in your life journey, to set the circumstances for the best possible new lover-man for you, we would like to propose you prioritize a different relationship: Your relationship with yourself.
The thing is, sometimes a man is not just a man. Sometimes a man is a symptom... kind of like the nasty rash you get after brushing up against the wrong bush in the woods. The outer world generally produces relationships that are symptoms of what’s lacking in our inner world.
It’s sooo common to try to get the outer world to behave in the way we want, so that we can heal that part of our inner world that hurts or has been betrayed. It’s so natural to think if I could just get a man to treat me the way I want to be treated, then I’ll feel better.
But the (totally annoying) truth is that you can’t make anyone do anything - you cannot get others to behave the way you want in order to heal the part of you that hurts. And even if you do get them to for a while, it will not heal that part of you that feels hurt, abandoned and afraid. It’ll be a bandaid for a while, that will one day get soggy and fall off. Only you have the power to heal yourself. In the meantime, you’ll continually create relationships that reflect the deficiencies inside yourself - that you can count on.
Each of us behaves according to our own nature - our own best way to survive given the tools we’ve got. These cheating dudes are doing the best they can with the tools they have. And you are doing the best you can with the tools you’ve got. But in order to attract a guy who has different, ahem, equipment, you need to expand the kind of gear you have in your own toolbox.
What does this look like? You’ve got to fill those needs you think you need a man to fill with your own self-love and self-care.
To get started on this project, make a list of everything you think you need a man to give you. Your list might include things like: love, affection, inspiration, fun, security, being seen, intimacy, companionship, etc, etc. List absolutely EVERYTHING that you believe a relationship will provide.
Then make another list of all the ways, besides being with a man, you can give those things to yourself.
For instance, if you crave affection, how can you create more affection in your world without a man? You could go to the fabric store and pick out a beautiful pattern for new curtains that make you feel warm and comforted... Or you can make regular dates with a niece or nephew and share affection by doing special creative projects together... Or you could volunteer in an old folks home and practice selflessly caring for others in a way that feels warm and generous.
Come up with ideas like this for every single need that you want to fill in romantic partnership, then pick a handful of your ideas and actually do them. It would be especially powerful if during the first six months of practicing filling your own needs, you choose not to date any man at all. This is your re-training camp. Use this time to realize that you are already whole without a man in your life. So that you don’t take in another guy with a rotten toolbox.
This will fill out the parts of your life that feel like they’re lacking in a totally new way - a way that has nothing to do with men. Little by little you will build inside yourself a wonderful infrastructure of support and self-reliance.
Sure, you will sometimes miss having a guy around. But every day that you survive and get a little stronger without propping yourself up on a man, you’re taking another step closer to having the standards in place that will not attract a man who is going to betray you.
After your six months of re-training are up, definitely get back out there and start dating again. But do it with the new awareness that you have built around your own ability to meet your own needs. And use that wise insightful lady that you are to look for red flags right from the start.
Take it slow and when you fear you might be seeing signs of someone who isn’t gravitated towards being in a loyal, committed relationship, kindly set your standard. Say you are excited to be in a monogamous love-relationship where you build a steady, reliable bond. Ask if he is excited in that type of relationship too... ask clear and non-accusatory questions to get the information you need.
If he doesn’t seem up for the type of love you want to share, bid him adieu and go back to meeting your own needs for love and affection.
Now Miss Kathleen, we know this is a VERY BIG project. This might be the biggest project of self-discovery of your whole life. But it is a beautiful and worthy project. And if you take it on whole-heartedly you are going to build such deep reserves of self-worth, you are going to be so proud of what you’ve overcome, that you will look back on the wild ride of your relationships with your exes, and not want to change a thing.
Finally, you have our full blessing to get a therapist or regular healer of some kind to support you on your self-realization journey. It can be very powerful to have someone especially committed to your development.
Please write back and let us know how it goes.