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How can I know that a man is trustworthy enough to let him get close to me?

answered 01:00 AM EST, Wed January 09, 2013
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anonymous anonymous
Can an expert please share how a single woman that has had her parents go through a divorce and has watched her mother suffer as a single mom and become very negative, as well as have herself issues with men in relationships (though wanting desperately to do the right thing and create a beautiful thing), how does this single woman not give up and how do you know and at what stage do you know how to trust a man and let him get close to you physically and how do you NOT get emotionally involved too soon before know can trust him, so you don't get disappointed over and over and over? It is torture and very depressing to feel you can't get anywhere with any man you are attracted to and you always think they want to use you. Help please

Penny Bell Says...

Penny Bell P. Bell
Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, MACA
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I don’t know how old you were when your parents divorced, nor whether or not you had or have regular contact with your father, nevertheless, at any age, parents divorcing has a huge impact on the children, and when it is the opposite sex parent that goes, it can leave the child with the impression that this will be their fate also when they are ready for a relationship.  On the other hand, children of divorce often vow that their marriage will be nothing like that of their parents, and strive for perfect harmony in their relationships.  Both these impressions or feelings or fears (it’s really a combination of all three) are extremes of what normally takes place in a relationship. 

All relationships have their ups and downs and must develop through a process of learning about one another in many settings and situations, observing one another and oneself in relation to the other, responding and reacting to expectations that are either fulfilled or unmet in the relationship, finding a happy medium or negotiating a compromise and eventually committing to something that can last a lifetime if both parties work at continuing to develop and maintain the relationship.  So you see it is not really an issue of finding someone that seems trustworthy or finding a man you can trust, it is more an issue of being open and curious and allowing a relationship to develop at a pace that is comfortable for both of you, all the while noticing what is good about being together and what is not so good, and making “mini decisions” along the way as to how viable this relationship might be in the long term. 

My hunch is that your anxiety to not have the negative experience your mother did, and to be in a relationship where you “do the right and beautiful thing”, has caused you to invest your whole self, including your emotions, very early into the relationship and this has backfired on you by causing you to be very hurt when the relationship is found to be not viable by either yourself or your partner.  A good rule of thumb is not to become intimate on any level until you have seen an integrity, an honouring and a respect for you in your new partner, and even then, sit on it for a while to make sure that what you have seen is reality.  Make sure you accompany him to many different places and situations so that you experience what he is like in many settings, and this will give you a broader overview than if you for example spend most of your courtship at his place watching videos.  Having put lots of time and space into trialling this relationship (which is what courtship is), you might then discuss with one another where you both think the relationship may be headed, and this way you can find out for sure if his understanding of your friendship matches yours.  You will then know if he is really interested in a long-term relationship or is just using you until someone else comes along.  I hope this has helped you in a practical way to feel a little bit better about being a single woman in the dating world.  And I wish you every success!

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Page last updated Feb 11, 2013

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Penny Bell - Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, MACA
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