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Conventional Wisdom: Ask a Feminist

I have a problem. I don't know what's going on, but the past three guys I dated after a while just stopped returning my phone calls and texts. They just left me in the dust! I usually blame myself. Was it something I did or said? Did we spend too much time together? But I can't even talk about it with them because the guy disappears! This hurts so much. Please help me figure out what I should do to prevent this from happening in the future.

— Sick of Being Ditched

To see how a feminist responds,

Dear Sick of Being Ditched,

I want to say first off — hang in there. It does feel painful to put yourself out there in the dating world and to feel rejected. We all go through it, and most of us weather it until we find the person who is right for us. I'm not going to tell you that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, but I do know that before you can put yourself out there, you need to know who you are. I suspect there are larger issues that need to be addressed.

I would need to have more information to truly give you the proper advice. First off, I wonder how old you are, how long you dated these men, or if you slept with them or not? Even without knowing that information, I am concerned that you are blaming yourself and wondering if it was something you did or said.

Dating is not just about being accepted or liked by the person you're dating, it's also about finding out if you really like the person. You don't say anything about how you felt about them; you seem only to focus on the fact that they didn't call you back. Sometimes, if we feel insecure and seek others to accept us, we may project neediness, and people back off. I'm not saying that's what happened in these cases — perhaps they were jerks, or there wasn't chemistry — but it's something to think about.

I suggest you focus on yourself before you date again. What are your talents, your interests? What is it about you that your family and real friends love? Most importantly, what is it about you that you love? Cultivate that, respect that, and the next person you meet who sees that and appreciates who you really are will be the right one for you. When you do that, and someone isn't interested in you, your ego may feel stung, but you'll know they were probably not right for you anyway.

If you try all that and still find yourself sad and bereft because someone didn't call you back, it may be time to talk to a therapist about what underlying issues are making you seek outside validation at the expense of your own sense of self-worth.

Good luck and be strong,

A feminist

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