Q: I was married for 20 years and have been divorced for seven years, and I'm having a very tough time trying to find a relationship. It seems that every time I find a man, he has a girlfriend, or he just got out of a relationship and then he uses me to make his girlfriend jealous in order to reunite with her. I don't think I should be having these problems. People always tell me how nice I am and good looking. I think a man should have an interest in me by now. I just don't understand where I'm going wrong with this. Someone introduced my ex-husband to a woman and they got married and his life is all back to a sincere married life again. When I ask other people how they meet, they tell me that someone introduced them or they somehow ran into each other. I don't understand why this doesn't happen for me. -- Mary
Dr. Susan: Mary, I believe it's time for you to realize that life is more random than you expect. Deserving has nothing to do with it. You've repeated your irritation at how long it's taking for you to be introduced to a suitable man or for you to run into one accidentally. Sure, some people are lucky: they quickly find someone who seems like a great new partner. Most of the rest, however, have to take very active steps to put themselves out there in order to meet a lot of possibilities, before zeroing in on the "right" one. I'm a little concerned, in fact, at the way you express your impatience, as though life owes you something because people say you're nice and good-looking. Really, now, why shouldn't you be having these problems? Lots of others do, and many of those people are pleasant and attractive also.
About a year after I was divorced, when I was ready to get out and meet men again, it didn't matter to me how busy I was with work and taking care of my children. Sometimes I got a sitter but mostly I waited for those nights when I didn't have custody, and I got out there where other singles mingle. I placed singles ads in more than one place, I attended a variety of singles events that were listed in my newspaper, and I soon met a number of men who were worth dating. None of them was perfect, though, until the right one came along. But I never spent those dates complaining about my ex, nor did I moan about how hard it is to find a good man. For you, Mary, I'd suggest internet dating, or perhaps you could try those places where you get to screen a batch of potential dates in a few minutes. Also, get involved in a couple of activities around subjects that interest you. And think about giving up that attitude of entitlement. It's a turnoff.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.