I'm an optimistic single.
I personally believe that there are more good guys out there than bad, and that the typical single guy isn't on the prowl to scam and hurt women. The typical guy, much like the typical woman, is just searching for a connection that he can believe in.
Unfortunately, I feel as if I'm in the ignorant minority with my "most guys are good" train of thought, as bad relationships are popping up all around me. Two of my friends are divorced; and one of my close friends recently had a relationship experience that knocked the optimism out of her.
My friend "Donna" discovered that her boyfriend of two years was actually someone else's husband of 9 years. Despite seeing this guy several nights a week, the truth of the matter was that he had a family, and Donna was just his sidepiece.
I've met Donna's ex, and when I saw the two of them together, I envisioned a hideous bridesmaid dress in my future, and I told her so. Donna's married man had fooled me, too; when everything crashed and burned between them, I wondered, are some women magnets for bad relationships?
Probably, especially after leaving a bad relationship suggest Helen Goldberg and Amy Loeb, authors of Sex Esteem: The Secret Struggles of Wives and Side Chicks.
The authors state that the cycle is a vicious one: A bad relationship experience is likely to damage a woman's self-esteem, and a woman with low self-esteem is more likely to enter into a bad relationship.
As for my friend, Goldberg doesn't believe that a woman can unknowingly date a married man for years, she tells me.
"Men are good at compartmentalization, but they're not that good," she says.
If there are certain areas of his life that you don't have access to, for example, his friends, family, home-front, etc., those are definitely red flags. If you can only see him during certain hours, or if you only have a cell phone number for him after you've decided to date each other exclusively, you should have an inkling that he is committed to someone else.
Co-author Amy Loeb adds that some women are co-conspirators in the deceit. "We wear blinders, especially if the loving is good," she says. "Men are crafty, yes, and we help them by choosing to ignore the red flags in the relationship. If we're comfortable, and we like the guy, we're going to wear our blinders and hope for something more."
Ultimatums, temper tantrums and all hell breaks loose if our relationship demands are not met, of course. Eventually, we dust ourselves off and throw ourselves back into the dating game -- but if we make that move too soon, we can end up in the Heartbreak Hotel once again Goldberg warns.
"You can't predict whether or not a guy will be bad for you," Goldberg states. "However, if you run away from one bad relationship and jump into a new one, you'll miss the red flags. You'll appear desperate, and you'll continue to attract the emotional predators who are no good for you."
Perhaps we would all be better off if we didn't callously fall in love, but instead strategize to land the relationship we truly wanted.
This relationship strategy would include a thorough background check for our suitors and a realistic expectations checklist for ourselves. We would welcome the courtship and friendship that good relationships are made of before we jumped into the sack.
And above all else, we would date with our eyes wide open, no blinders allowed.