“I can’t trust men since #MeToo and it’s ruining my love life”

Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all your romantic problems, without restriction.

This week, our resident sex therapist Isiah McKimmie helps a woman who struggles with trusting men and how it’s holding her back from finding love.

QUESTION: I find it increasingly difficult to trust men. I think that’s all that’s been in the media and mainstream conversation since #MeToo and the stories that have come out about sexual assault, violence and misogyny. I feel more tired than ever of men and it’s impacting my ability to find a relationship. I feel suspicious and afraid to choose a man who has bad intentions and who will treat me badly. I know so many great men – my father, my brother and a few close friends – but I get scared when I meet new men. How can I stay cautious and alert while being open to new relationships?

It’s not uncommon to feel like your partner is the wrong one.

ANSWER: The fear of choosing someone who is not right is a real dilemma. I can understand that I’m suspicious and don’t want to make the wrong choice.

Relationship dynamics are changing right now

It’s a highlight in time. Women are realizing that what we have tolerated as “normal” for so long is not acceptable and they are rising up and speaking out.

Women expect more from dating, from consent, and from their relationships. I hear more discussions between couples about shared responsibilities. People choose to be alone rather than in relationships that don’t work for them.

a couple on a date
More couples are discussing expectations around consent.

I also want to acknowledge that men say it’s a tough time for them too. Many don’t want to be wrong and don’t know how to best approach women with rapidly changing standards.

Unsuccessful relationships can make us suspicious and tired

As we get older, we also “hoard” more negative dating and relationship experiences that can leave us jaded. We know there are good people out there, but finding them can be exhausting and difficult.

How to avoid getting in a relationship with the wrong person

Your questions echo the dilemma that many of my clients have shared with me. Here are the tips that have helped many of them find happy relationships.

1. Do the “work” on yourself

Reflecting on our own patterns, emotions, and beliefs can help prepare us for a more successful relationship. Many of us will find that we have a “type,” a similar type of person we end up with in a relationship, even if it’s not healthy.

woman reflecting
Taking time to reflect can help you find what you are looking for in a relationship.

We may also find that we end up staying in relationships that are not right for us because of these beliefs and patterns. Consciously changing these patterns and beliefs makes us available for healthier partners and relationships. Seeing a therapist can help with this.

2. Understand your attachment style

There are four different attachment styles that we all fall into. Everyone has their own “default setting” for how we present ourselves in relationships.

Our attachment style can impact the type of partner we choose, what our needs are in a relationship, how we communicate, and the type of partner we are attracted to.

Understanding your attachment style can help you break down any negative relationship patterns you may have.

3. Take things slowly

We all want to find the right person for us, unfortunately our urgency to do so can sometimes interfere with our good judgment.

a couple on a date
Everyone has a different pace in dating, take your time and do what’s best for you.

Especially if we have an insecure attachment style, we can step in and pick up feelings too quickly, making it harder to end a bad relationship.

4. Learn to say no quickly

The reality is that you won’t always be able to immediately spot someone with bad intentions. But you can learn to say “no” as soon as you realize that someone isn’t right for you.

Most people who have been in a relationship with a narcissist, misogynist, or abuser say they had concerns early on, but ignored the red flags.

Make yourself uncomfortable
Don’t be afraid to say no to something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Don’t doubt yourself. If someone is not feeling well, say no as soon as possible. You don’t have to give anyone the benefit of the doubt.

5. Keep your heart open for the right person

Dating is difficult. Relationships sometimes hurt. But happy relationships are a good indicator of improved health and happiness.

We can also learn to be more resilient and take care of ourselves when things don’t go our way.

You have good men in your life, so I don’t need to tell you they’re out there. Stay open to possibilities.

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