I Try To Give Guys The Benefit Of The Doubt, But It’s Hard When I’ve Been Screwed Over So Much

I’ve been hurt a lot in previous relationships. I’ve been lied to, cheated on, and led down the garden path by men who seemed to be nice but were actually toxic jerks. I know everyone deserves a chance and I can’t blame a new guy for what the others have done, but it’s really hard to have an open heart after being so mistreated.

  1. I’m always on guard. I’ve learned the signs of toxic men, so when I go on a date, I’m fully ready to spot those signs. Even when I’m laughing with a guy and really enjoying his company, a part of my mind is scanning him for potential flaws that will break my heart in weeks or months to come. It’s exhausting, but I have a serious fear of being screwed over again.
  2. I forgive but don’t forget. I’ve forgiven the men in my past who hurt me, and I’ve forgiven myself for trusting them and giving them the benefit of the doubt. However, I don’t forget what I’ve gone through. I feel like if I do, then I’m forgetting the lessons along with it, and I never want to do that.
  3. The first cut is not the deepest. I know that they say the first cut is the deepest, but this is BS. Heartbreak hurts more the older I get, with every last cut being so much more painful than the ones I sustained before it. I’m afraid to love and get hurt because I know it’s going to hurt in a completely new and shocking way.
  4. It’s hard to believe in love after heartbreak. It’s really hard to believe that there are good men out there when all the guys I’ve met have hurt me. All the guys I’ve dated proved themselves to be jerks, and often my suspicions of them came true, which just makes me fear there’s no real love out there. I know logically there has to be, but it’s not always easy to believe, especially in our hookup culture.
  5. I don’t believe I’m worthy. Why should I have a great relationship that makes me happy? Being with toxic men in the past has really screwed up my self-esteem at times, making me think that I’ll never find happiness or that I don’t deserve a guy who can stay faithful. Screw that. I don’t want my past to determine my self-worth.
  6. I’ve seen how quickly things can change. I’ve been in relationships that changed overnight. I know that things were probably changing for a while before this big shift, but still. I was blindsided. I was ghosted. It sucked! It’s hard to believe things like ghosting won’t happen to me again when it’s such a dating epidemic.
  7. I take a long time to reveal who I am. Being hurt a lot has made me really cautious about showing my true self to people. It’s as though I feel if I’m not revealing who I truly am, I can’t be completely hurt or rejected. But I know this screws me over, denying myself the chance to be loved for who I am.
  8. I know heartbreak doesn’t kill, but… It might sound crazy to say that heartbreak has changed me, but unfortunately, it has. Even though it can’t kill me, it’s definitely given me issues — huge trust issues that feel like they’ll take forever to be eliminated. I don’t want to add more issues to my life with more heartbreak.
  9. I know what I need but I’m afraid to ask. After getting hurt, I’ve changed my standards and wants. I know that I need a man who’s patient with me and lets me speak about my fears without fear of rejection, but this is sometimes difficult to ask for. Sometimes I find it easier to keep all that stuff to myself.
  10. I play out my worst fantasies. I have this weird habit of playing out the sickest fantasies in my mind — a man lying to me or cheating on me, for instance. I guess it’s a way for me to deal with the idea that it could happen, but it also makes me feel crap, like I’m expecting to get hurt again. Ugh.
  11. I don’t want to have high walls. I know I have to protect myself, but that doesn’t mean I want to be locked behind high walls. I don’t want to risk blocking out someone who’s really worthy of my love and trust. It’s not easy to let those walls down, to hope that the guy I’m letting in won’t hurt me, but I guess I’ve got to try. What’s the alternative? Never making a connection again, which sucks.
  12. It’s easy to go from guarded to jaded. There’s a thin line between guarding my heart and becoming completely cynical. For instance, when I meet a guy who’s secretive, I immediately think there’s a dodgy reason for it, like he’s got a girlfriend. I end up thinking that he’ll just hurt me like all the others, and I don’t even know the guy yet! It’s good to protect my heart so that I don’t get hurt, but that doesn’t mean I should sabotage it.
  13. The key is to love myself. I need to remain in tune with my needs. If I’m going on dates but feeling negative about love, maybe I need to stop and take some time out to remain single and work through my thoughts. The most important thing is to love myself. I can’t always stop myself getting hurt by other people because I can’t prevent or control what they do. But I can love myself, and that’s really the most important thing. No matter what happens, I can love myself more than them. I might not be able to stop them from lying or cheating on me, but I can stop myself from shedding tears over them.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.