Our first submission is from Anna*, a recently single woman who was cheated on after dating a guy for two and half years.
This douchebag did a number on her self-confidence, so she came to us for advice on how to move forward with her single life without doubting herself or her choices:
I was always a relationship kind of girl until I decided to take some time for myself and spent three years single toward the end of college and after. I wanted the next relationship I actually got in to be a serious one. And things seemed to be perfect with my ex, since he was my first relationship after a dating hiatus. He told me he loved me after a week... which is insane. I'm recently single after a two and a half year relationship [with him]. The guy was a total liar, called me fat, and to top it all off, I found out he had been cheating on me for six months. I've definitely decided to be single and play the field for a while. And I've never been a particularly unconfident girl. I've never thought of myself as ugly or fat, until my ex said those things about me. It's just going to be really weird navigating the single life wondering what guys are thinking and if they're saying what they really think about me. And when I do decide to get into a new relationship, I guess I'd like to know how to get over the 'cheating' factor and not let it affect my relationship with a new guy down the road... way down the road. How do I move forward and not let this horrible relationship jade me in my single (and future dating) life? It has me feeling like I should just swear off guys and be a single, crazy dog lady forever!
So I know you're probably reading my single girl "label," thinking, "Why should I ever listen to someone who has no idea what's she's doing?" And, like, VALID POINT.
BUT, even though I may not know what I'm doing in dating, I DO know what I'm doing when it comes to doing me until I die.
I will say, the good thing about subjective things, like appearances, is that just because someone (i.e. your dickhead ex — is it OK if I call him that?) gives a subjective opinion, doesn't mean it's true or that everyone else thinks the same thing.
So, if you felt confident in yourself before, one comment from someone else doesn't negate that. He's entitled to his wrong opinion.
Obviously, it's never easy to approach new relationships after you've been burned, so my advice is to do some reflecting, WITHIN REASON. (Meaning: Don't start ruminating and lose yourself into three bottles of wine and forget who you are... not that I do this five times per week or anything... wait what?)
Think back to before you found out your ex was cheating. Were any of his actions a little fishy, but you brushed them off? If so, have those red flags in mind when you enter your next relationship.
After you self-reflect, think about the shittier qualities in your ex you'd rather not revisit in the future. No two people are the same, yes, however, I'd be willing to bet the cheaters out there are more similar than we might think.
I'm glad you're deciding to play the field and do you for a little while (because that's my favorite thing to do). So since your ex took a hit at your confidence, load up on doing whatever makes you feel your absolute best.
If that's having a lot of sex with randos, do that shit. If that means watching everything on Netflix in your underwear for 14 days straight, do that shit.
AND IF YOU WANNA SWEAR OFF GUYS AND BE A SINGLE, CRAZY DOG LADY FOREVER, FUCKING DO THAT SHIT BECAUSE DOGS ARE THE ONLY HAPPINESS IN THIS WORLD.
I may not know what I'm doing, but YOU GOT THIS, ANNA.
If you felt confident in yourself before, one comment from someone else doesn't negate that.
You definitely don't need to swear guys off, but moving forward, always be honest with yourself about early red flags. He told you he loved you after one week, which was your first clue that he was either clingy or a liar. When you see a red flag, please run before you get too invested.
I love that you've decided to start playing the field — that's RIGHT up my alley. Cardinal rule in playing the field: It's not about what THEY think of you, but what YOU think of them.
Don't worry your pretty little head about what's going on in a dude's head. Put yourself first for once. Instead of asking "does he like me?" or "does he think I'm pretty?" change that to "is he worth MY time?" "does he excite me?" and eventually "should I try to double book him and John on Saturday?"
As far as the cheating factor, after playing the field for some time, you'll get a sense of how certain guys move. You'll be able to differentiate the faithful ones from the dogs with ease.
This takes time, but at least you'll be having some fun with your boy toys until you get there.
Instead of asking 'does he like me?' change that to 'is he worth MY time?'
Before you continue reading, I suggest you grab a drink. When I'm upset about a boy, I usually order a whiskey on the rocks so I blackout and forget my life, but I'm sure something like a nice glass of wine or beer will do the trick.
Listen, your ex-boyfriend is an asshole. Anyone who calls you fat deserves to have a tequila sunrise shoved up his asshole and poured out the other end.
Although I've never dated a guy who cheated on me, I have been in a long-term relationship with someone who hurt me, called me names and ended up being the biggest piece of shit in the world. Maybe we dated the same guy… who knows.
Like you, I want my next relationship to be serious and with someone who deeply cares about me and doesn't treat me like I'm actual dog crap. But the reality is, we are both so young. We have the rest of our lives to spend with someone who is our “everything.” (LMAO, GAG.)
I'm a firm believer no one should spend their 20s looking for another person to make them happy. That shit comes from within, girlfriend. On top of that, all the time you spend with one person is less time spent at the bar with your friends.
Instead of chasing love or worrying about what some dumb boy will think of you, take time to have fun and focus on yourself. Plan a trip, go on vacation, read a book, buy a plant, learn to cook, watch a movie, blackout 'til you vomit and drunk text your ex.
(I'm kidding about that last one… DON'T TEXT HIM, ANNA. DON'T FUCKING DO IT.)
One day, you'll find a guy who will love and care about you unconditionally, and he will make you feel dumb for wasting all your time and energy on someone like your ex who doesn't matter.
Plus, you'll have a bunch of amazing stories from your 20s to tell for the rest of your life… that is, if you remember them all.
DRINK UP, BUTTERCUP.
No one should spend their 20s looking for another person to make them happy. That shit comes from within.
This guy sounds like the literal worst. I had an ex like him. Granted, he didn't cheat on me, but he did manipulate me into feeling like I was a fat, ugly, actual piece of shit. (Wait... did you, me and the girl who likes to drink all date the same guy...? WHAT WAS HIS NAME, ANNA??!!!)
Anyway, my best advice to you would be to spend some time on your own to figure out what matters most to you moving forward. Sometimes we just need to retreat into ourselves for a little bit in order to get clarity on where we should go from here.
This doesn't mean you should spend all of your time alone, however. Self-reflection is good until it becomes too much of a habit. Then you just become a hermit, and how are you supposed to show the world this awesome, refreshed, unapologetic you if you're just sitting at home all the time?
Take care of yourself, let yourself heal, recalibrate, and then, go to a bar with your friends and flirt with some randos.
Flirting with randos is my literal favorite pass-time. You get free drinks out of it, you get some good conversation (if you've found a guy who's actually interesting — avoid all guys who just approach you with a "hey, what's up?" You deserve more creativity than that and also, fuckboy red flag number one) and if you want to, you can have a no-strings-attached one-night stand.
One-night stands get a bad rap, but if you're having sex for the right reasons, they can actually be pretty empowering. They show that YES, you ARE this sexy, badass bitch who can get whatever guy she wants. It's the perfect confidence booster when used correctly.
Take your confidence boosting into your own hands by choosing who you have sex with and when.
So, Anna, let yourself heal a little, and then go out there and take your confidence boosting into your own hands by choosing who you have sex with and when. You'll be surprised at how empowering random hookups can be when they're done completely on your own terms.