Dr. Love,I am a 25-year-old single female. I am very well educated with several advanced degrees, and possess many unique talents within the creative arts. I have been told by many that I am quite attractive. My problem is that for most of my life I have been alone, without long-term boyfriends and almost always dateless.Although I’m not a people-person, I am trying to overcome my insecurities with others and do try to get out and socialize. I am small and fit, with very good hygiene. I take pride in my appearance and am well-put together. I don’t smoke or drink, and I try to make myself seem approachable. I simply cannot figure out why it is so very hard for me to meet someone. I see many less attractive, less intelligent women who are involved. I get admiring stares from much older men constantly, but within my own peer group there seem to be no takers. The very few who have expressed interest I find very unattractive, both physically and in many cases intellectually. Men often ask me how it is that I don’t have a boyfriend. I don’t know.I have asked my friends. They say they don’t know. Each time I have made subtle advances toward a man whom I admire, I am rebuffed. I have come almost to expect it. Still, I try to keep my chin up, keep hope alive, all that. I am terribly afraid that I may never marry, have children, even just have sex ever again.One important note: My first love was years ago. He was everything a girl could have wanted, so he seemed. And he dumped me totally without warning, without explanation, and devastated me. Since then he has married, and although I am no longer in love with him, I find the whole thing incredibly painful. It hurts beyond words to think of him having taken this woman in a year after me, having found in her whatever he didn’t in me. I am aware this is destructive thinking. I have been to therapy many times. But since then I have been rejected in some form or another by every man I have dated–that ‘s been 3 in 4 years. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I know what I have written is quite long, but I hope you can help.
I hear how pained you are. My heart goes out to you. I understand that rejection and abandonment is a theme in your adult relationships. Keep in mind that whenever a pattern becomes repetitive, 99% of the time, the mind is replaying an unhealed scar from childhood ( the mind tries to heal through repetition).As I’ve said in other columns, the mind hopes to recreate the original trauma and then work for a happy ending (this time I won’t be abandoned). Unfortunately, repetitions never end up healing us; because we choose people who are like the figures who originally damaged us, we just end up being hurt again and again. And, we end up feeling the despair that you describe.So, how to break free? First, identify what early wound your mind is replaying. I have a feeling that you suffered a terrible abandonment in your early life. I sense that someone you dearly loved left you, possibly for someone else. Does this fit? Think back and figure out what piece of your past is being replayed in your adult relationships. Once you figure that out, we are on the road to healing.Next, I suggest you join a male/female support group. (Try to join a group run by a trained modern group analyst. Call the Center for the Advancement of Group Studies in NYC–212-721-8642 and ask them if they know of a therapist in your area). In this group, you will experience loving and supportive relationships with people who won’t abandon you. This will advance your healing. After a while, you will find real life relationships similar to those that you develop in the group. I have seen it happen with my own clients and I know that it can happen for you. Please promise to let me know what your soul-searching yields and how you make out. You sound so lovely and loveable and worthy of a love that stays. Keep in touch.