Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

I’m just the test drive bride – good for a short spin but not long haul.

Dear Victoria, I’m 37 and have had five serious relationships for varying lengths of time in my life, two of which I was even engaged to. Although each relationship and was very different all of them have had two things in common. Firstly, all of the men have dumped me, secondly they all married their next girlfriend.

I feel as If I was just the test drive bride, they gave me a good go but ultimately there was a more comfy model around the corner.

Now because of my miserable and pathetic love-life I’ve become undatable. By nature I’m not needy or neurotic but I’m becoming more so with every failed date. I’ll give you an example. Last month I was introduced to this really nice guy at a dinner party. At the end of the evening he offered to drive me home, we even shared a bit of a kiss. He didn’t ask for my number so I didn’t offer it, I’ve read the rules. So, the next day I popped round to see the friends who ‘d organised the evening and persuaded my friend's husband to call him, under the pretence of playing golf, but really to find out what he thought of me. It worked, he actually asked if he had my number. Five days later we went out and had a great evening. Surprise, surprise I’ve not heard from him since. Now he wasn’t that fantastic, but because he’s rejected me and made me feel like crap, now I can’t eat or sleep. What happens if he was the one, not that he was, I would probably still have scared him off. What’s your opinion, am I undatable?

You don't have any difficulty attracting men. Otherwise you wouldn't have had five relationships and a recent first date.

So you're only undateable if you think you are. As I've said before, you can't do anything about your past but you can do something about your present and your future. Regarding your previous relationships, you've come to sweeping consulsions, apparently based only on the outcome of these relationships. What's much more important than whether all these relationships ended is whether there was a common pattern to the relationships themselves. You shouldn't be so harsh on yourself. Most people have had relationhips that haven't worked out. Some people have one or two, some people have many more. There isn't a magic number at which point the number of failed relationships you've had becomes pathological or somehow makes you undateable or automatically unable to have a relationship.

You don't give any clues in your email as to why these relationships failed. If you think there were similar complex emotional or sexual difficulties that ran through all of these relationships then this may be something that you need to address, perhaps through self-help books and support from your friends or perhaps through psychotherapy. However, since you don't suggest that this is the case then it's more likely that you're jumping to conclusions, blowing things out of proportion and seeing the worst in the situation - essentially catastrophising. You'll probably know for yourself whether you tend to over-think things and dwell on the past. A period of doing this after a relationship has broken down is normal. Sometimes the pain can even feel like a bereavement.

If you've done your analysing in your head and the conclusion you've come to is that there were few if any similarities in the problems you've had - other than you now see yourself as undateable - then that is the main issue you now need to tackle. It's time to put the past behind you. By all means learn from the past if there is something positive to learn but criticising yourself really isn't going to help. How you think about yourself really does impact on how you feel, how you behave and how you interact with others. If you go into a relationship with this mindset then you're not going to attract the right sort of attention.

No matter how great your personality or how attractive you are, there will be dates that don't turn into relationships but the nature of dating is that you rarely get honest feedback as why they don't call you again. What can you do about it? I wouldn't recommend trying to get feedback - it does seem needy and will make you feel needy. You need to take positive action. Foster a positive mental attitude. Behave as a confident, self-assured woman would. Make the most of yourself on the inside and the outiside and encourage yourself to think that a healthy relationship is something you'd like to find yourself in but it's not the sole focus of your existence.

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