Dear Dr. Romance:

I'll admit, I just don't understand men. Do they want us to be perfect all the time? I mean, I think I'm a pretty okay person. I honestly like myself for who I am. It took me a long time to get to this point. I'm not a model, but reasonably attractive for a woman in her 40s. I'm fit, educated and successful in my teaching career. While being single mom of a teenager, I'm launching my art career, and trying to break into teaching at the university level. I love art, music, books, the outdoors. And I volunteer, and have friends.

So what's wrong with me? My most recent, painful, near-relationship has left me reeling. I met this guy through twitter. It was innocent- I started talking to him because he was a fellow artist and single parent, and was in pain over a recent break-up and seeking some comfort. I'd just gotten over a situation with a guy which was mostly internet based. He turned out to have misrepresented himself for nearly a year. Easy to do online, I believe. And I had opened up, shared, and fallen for him (or who he said he was.) We had even met in another state. After that, I gathered myself up, dusted myself off, and believed in myself again.

Then I began talking to this new man, I felt as if I could empathize with him, he asked for advice, for help. We hit it off and quickly became friends. He opened up, talked a lot about himself and how he felt about things. I appreciated that, I never judged. He's human. He's allowed to make mistakes and have faults. Before I knew it, I found I was really attracted to him. One night, he tells me he is really attracted to me. Our conversation that night moved from the computer and texting to talking on the telephone. I was elated. He said he really liked me. He thought I was beautiful, talented, wonderful. That he wanted me with him so we could talk, laugh, share. We both felt a connection. We continued to talk via the computer and texting throughout the entire next day.

That night, he indicated how glad he was that I had helped him through a tough time a when he had that break-up. He said he'd like to be that kind of friend to me. So I admitted to him my fear of opening up again to someone who lived far away, when I couldn't get to know them, find out if what they said about themselves and about us was really true. Yes, I was insecure, and looking for a little reassurance. I'm human. I'd just gone through a situation where I felt I'd been exploited, and I did not want to repeat it. David got angry. He said 'that's what I get for being kind to someone... I get their previous issues dumped on me, causing me pain' and that he was only trying to be a friend to me and that the right guy would come along for me.

Then I was very confused. I thought I'd misunderstood what had happened the night before. That maybe he just wanted to be friend, platonic. So I asked him about that. I admitted I was getting confused by his messages. Next thing I know, he tells me he's tired of drama, and that he needed to rebuild his life again. That was the last I heard. I tried calling, apologizing. Explaining that I'm human, I have things I need to work on just like everyone else. I sent a text, asking him if he was okay today. That I cared. Nothing.

So. That's over. But... is it wrong to be human? To make mistakes? Will I forever have to pretend to be perfect just to get a man to love me? If I pretend to be perfect, then is it really love for me, wouldn't it be love for a fake me? I certainly won't like myself if I go around pretending to be someone I'm not. I'm not perfect. Does being human, with all my positive characteristics and all my faults mean that I'll never find someone to love me? I honestly, truly don't understand. And since I'm so baffled, you can probably discern that this is not the first time I've been discarded because one of my faults slipped through.

Dear Reader:

There's absolutely nothing wrong with you. Partners have to be able to disagree and sort it out, so your reaction was not a bad thing. It's the dating venue, not you, that's messed up. E-mail and twitter are bad ways to meet someone. There's no responsibility, and it's too easy for men to say things they can't back up. It's too much of a fantasy world. This guy's response shows he wasn't serious about wanting a relationship, he was just playing around.

The best way to find someone is the old-fashioned way. You're active in your community, so meet people that way. Focus on your friends, and make new friends. Network with people you know, and before long, you'll meet a suitable man. You'll see him in action, with other people, before you show your interest in him. You'll know who you're dealing with before your heart is involved.You'll be able to see his behavior, and scope out his character by seeing how he deals with others and with you as a colleague or friend. The connection between you will grow organically, and you won't have nasty surprises. There are some articles on my website that will help you. "Where is love?" and "The Fine Art of Squirrel Hunting" Don't lose hope. There are good men out there. I married one, and we've been happy for 30 years. I was skeptical when we first met (at a weekend retreat) and I really checked him out, because, like you, I had been burned. But, he passed all the tests, and our connection has stood the test of time. Even aging, gaining weight, and health problems have only made us stronger together. Love doesn't require you to be perfect, or super-human. Love is about being human, and sharing the ups and downs of life together. It's not about being beautiful outside, it's more about being strong and sweet inside. Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today will help you process the past problems and give you a process to follow that makes dating fun, safe and successful.


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Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.