I know that not all men are douchebags, but I feel like most of the ones I’ve dated have left me wondering if any men are actually worth taking a chance on. All of my experience tells me that guys can’t be trusted and will only disappoint me, and while I know that’s probably not true, men have pretty much ruined men for me.

I’ve been hurt way too many times.

In fact, I’ve been hurt more often than I haven’t when it comes to my personal relationships with men — and not just emotionally, although emotional abuse is a serious and very real thing. I’ve trusted men that I thought were my friends, only to have them betray that friendship in the worst ways. I’ve dated men who I thought were good people, only to discover the hard way that I was very, very wrong. Is it any wonder I find it hard to believe that there are good, kind men out there just waiting to be discovered?

It’s so hard to trust when that trust is repeatedly broken.

It’s difficult for me to be able to trust anyone enough to let them close to me. The trouble with that is, it’s almost impossible to figure out if someone is trustworthy or not without there being a certain level of closeness involved, so I get stuck in this catch-22 of trying to protect myself without being able to discern who it is I need protecting from.

The world can be a dangerous place for women.

As a woman navigating this world, there’s just no way of telling when I might be in danger from a man. Women are shot just for walking down the street and ignoring a catcaller. People like to pretend this isn’t the case, but the reality is, it’s generally far more dangerous to be a woman in this world than it is to be a man. That’s just the truth of my everyday existence. For my own physical safety, it’s necessary for me to view men I don’t know well as potentially dangerous. That might not sound fair to you, but it’s not fair to me either.

I’m so, so tired.

I’m tired of trying to figure out which men are dangerous to me, emotionally or otherwise. I know for a fact that they can’t all be bad. There are men in my life who I trust completely, but it takes so much work, effort, and time on my part to figure out which guys are genuine. It’d be a lot easier if men came equipped with a “safe” sign on their foreheads, but most of the time I can’t know if they’re safe or not until they’ve hurt me. By then, it’s too late.

Male privilege? Men don’t even know they have it.

I know some men who have done the work of dismantling male superiority complexes and I respect them for it — but so many men are oblivious to the fact that they’ve been conditioned to treat women poorly. It’s so exhausting to have to try and prove the existence of this to men who can’t see it clearly.

I’m sick of being objectified.

I’m not even remotely close to being considered stereotypically “hot,” but this hasn’t stopped the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of guys who have yelled at me over my life from catcalling me in a variety of creative and obscene ways. When I can’t even walk a few blocks without some loser dude screaming at me on the street, it’s hard not to carry a grudge against the entire gender.

My friends all have stories.

Stories of men who’ve hurt them too and a lot of those stories are so heavy to carry. I know I can’t blame all men for the crimes of some of their number, but it’s hard not to. I can’t undo the pain that my female friends have suffered at the hands of men, and the knowledge that most of those men will never answer for it haunts me. Thinking about it too long is enough to make a girl go crazy.

I want to find love.

I also want to avoid a certain kind of man; the kind of man who hurts women, the kind of man who laughs at a rape joke, the kind of man who thinks I’m an irrational hyper-feminist for being afraid of men in this world. Sometimes it feels like these two goals of mine are fundamentally out of sync.

I don’t want them to win.

By “them,” I mean the men who’ve tried so diligently to ruin all men for me. I want to believe in good men, in kind men, in the sort of man I dream about falling in love with one day. I’ll keep working on my end of that, but it’d be a hell of a lot easier if the crappy guys in this world weren’t also working hard to convince me they’re the only ones that exist.

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