A VERY sad story

I certainly feel sorry for Yael Wolfe below.  She has had a a string of disappointing romantic experiences that have left  her deeply wounded.  She is now in her '40s so is precluded from having children, which makes the disappointment acute.

It is notable however that she blames the men she has known for her bad experiences.  She shows no awareness that she might have behaved in a way to bring on her misfortunes.  I know nothing of the details of her failed romances but I think I can make a stab at where she may have gone wrong.  

It could be that she has simply aimed too high.  We social pychologists see all relationhips as transactional.  They are a "deal" where both people get a lot of what they want from the other.  I think she just did not have enough to offer the men she sought out.  Judging by the photo above, she may not be very attractive physically, for instance.  So the attractive men she involved herself with felt that the "deal" she was offering was lopsided and, after exploration, acted on that by departing her life.

A woman who prioritized a kind heart over good looks would have done better.  I have always chosen kind women in my life and have been richly rewarded for it.  But that is a whole other story

I’m pretty sure I’m dead between the shoulders and knees. There’s nothing going on in there if you know what I mean. Not in my heart and definitely not southward, either.

Time of death: December 13, 2021.

Yes, I know exactly when it happened.

Cause of death? I know that, too. The sight of two, icy blue eyes staring at me on a video call embedded in the emotionless face of the man who had just, a week before, been talking about how we were going to be making love into our eighties. Until, that is, we actually did make love, and then he didn’t seem quite as interested in his daydreamed version of the two of us forty years in the future.

I can’t say I was surprised by the breakup. I guess you could say I was more surprised that he bothered to end things before disappearing from my life, though I’m the one who insisted on that conversation when he suddenly stopped texting me without explanation.

What does surprise me, however, is that our breakup forever changed me. No, not the way heartbreak leaves a scar that we will carry with us for the rest of the our lives. I mean it changed me.

I lost something that I don’t think I will ever get back.

How many times do we swear off dating when we are experiencing the aftermath of a breakup? I’ve been known to throw that promise out to the universe while curled up on my bed, crying uncontrollably. “Never again,” I vowed after a few early breakups.

Interestingly, it wasn’t the abusive breakups that inspired my decision to opt out of dating. I think it was simply youth.

By my thirties, I feel I was admirably resilient, if you don’t mind me patting myself on the back. In fact, I’m especially proud of myself that during the long, drawn-out breakup with the man who left me for a younger woman, I never once swore off men, never once felt anger toward men in general, and never once believed that my chances of finding a healthy relationship were over.

On the contrary, thanks to the fact that we had been struggling in our relationship for over a year before the breakup, I was positively itching to get out on the market again. I was in deep, deep grief, but I kept reminding myself that one day, the pain would ease and I’d be ready to try again.

Unfortunately, the next half dozen romantic encounters I had with men were absolutely disastrous. Every single one of them was like a burning meteorite falling from the sky right into my lap. I was putting out fires everywhere. Fires someone else had started.

By the time I genuinely fell in love with someone for the very first time since that awful breakup, a grueling seven years later, I believed my luck had finally changed. Due to our significant age difference, I wasn’t interested in pursuing a long-term relationship with this man. But a romantic fling — perhaps a year or two — felt like the perfect arrangement. We could remain independent and still have a beautiful experience that would be a win for both of us.

I couldn’t have been more stunned by the way that relationship unfolded. Let’s just say that I ended up naked with my feet in stirrups with a swab up my swollen vagina, which was then followed by a trip to the lab where they drew three vials of blood for STI tests.

He’d already exited my life by that point.

Though there has been some healing in that relationship since then — the only semi-healing I’ve ever experience with any ex — I still find it astounding that our romantic connection ended with such a humiliating, horrifying experience. As I mentioned, it wouldn’t have cost either of us anything to have ended things in a way that we both could have called a win.

Instead, the choice was made to end things at my expense, while he came out ahead.

The blue-eyed man entered the scene just weeks after that. We were already friends. Colleagues, he made me believe, though that turned out to be a ruse.

At the time, I still believed the best in people. I thought he felt compassion for me and everything I had endured because of that breakup. I thought he felt tenderness for me.

I didn’t understand then — even at 45 — that there are so many men who will swoop in right after a breakup. It’s a vulnerable time. How can you keep your defenses up when you are still tending to your wounds?

He was so convincing. He said everything I’d always wished a man would say to me. He treated me the way I’d always wished a man would treat me. He made promises to me I’d always wanted a man to make.

Once again, I didn’t realize what was really happening. He was reading my words, combing through my essays like an archaeologist, excavating the landscape of my heart.

I came to realize — far too late, I’m sorry to say — that during those months leading up to our first face-to-face meeting, he wasn’t wooing me. He was using what he’d learned about me to woo me.

Sowhat makes this breakup any different? Why did this encounter so completely destroy my capacity for romantic love and sexual desire?

These aren’t easy questions to answer. Certainly not in less than 2,000 words. How do you summarize a lifetime of being exploited and abused by male romantic partners and fully illustrate the impact that has on a woman’s life once she reaches middle age?

And after decades of therapy, self-examination, growth, maturing, and rigorous efforts at improvement, all of this culminates in the back-to-back gut punches of two brutal breakups. One that left you naked and trembling on an examination table, and the other that left you naked and trembling in the infinite emptiness of the cosmos. Because that’s what it feels like when you realize you invited a man who was pretending to be someone else into your bed.

None of it felt hopeless at the time. He had been so real, so sincere, so loving when we were dating. I was absolutely convinced that he loved me but perhaps felt overwhelmed or scared. He was afraid to let me in, right? Isn’t that what women always say to one another when trying to soothe over the rough edges of a breakup?

But my hopes for reconciliation were dashed a few months later when I reached out to him. He was so angry. So cruel. He couldn’t apologize, he said, because it felt so rote. And he didn’t want to apologize if he didn’t mean it.

I was stunned. How many times now had I found myself in a breakup with a man who had said this to me? Who had shamelessly told me he wasn’t sorry, at all?

How many times would it take for me to realize that they almost never are?

I’ve always been a very forgiving person. That boyfriend who left me for a younger woman…that wasn’t the first time he had an affair. I forgave him for the first one.

And believe it or not, I would have forgiven him for the last one. He’d always said we would be friends forever — how can you not when you’ve been through the seven years we weathered together? I thought for sure he would come back after he and his new wife settled down and apologize to me for his horrible treatment and propose we make peace. I would have embraced it.

But I never heard from him again. Nine years and counting.

The blue-eyed boyfriend had a similar pass. Honestly, even after the way he treated me, blowing through my life like a hurricane and then dumping me right before Christmas, I still would’ve forgiven him had he just treated me with compassion and expressed his regret over hurting me.

But that wasn’t in the cards. He couldn’t say he was sorry because he wasn’t sorry. He couldn’t show me compassion because he felt none. I’d never be a part of his kids’ lives because he’d never intended for me to meet them in the first place.

That’s when I had to come to terms with the fact that this man who had said he loved me, this man who had said we were going to get married, had lied to me just to get into my bed. He had never loved me, at all.

How bad does it have to get? How catastrophically do romantic relationships have to end? How many times do you have to experience a boyfriend cheating before it’s just too much? How many times do they get to push you, hit you, pin you to the floor before you break? How many lies do you have to endure before you can’t take it anymore?

And how many times can a woman look into the cold, icy faces of the men who had a fun time in the bedroom but are done now? How many times can we face that level of inhumanity before we stop feeling human?

Ihaven’t had any interest in dating since the last time Sam and I spoke. I haven’t had any interest in sex, either — at least not with another person.

Something has shifted deep inside me. I no longer feel aroused by a man’s naked body. On the contrary, I have a whole slew of other emotional responses, and for the sake of the feelings of the men reading, I will keep that to myself for now.

Sex with a man no longer feels like an option. It is guaranteed danger, according to my own experiences. Not a bit of a risk. No, it’s closer to inevitable exploitation and ruin.

People love to say that women like me are responsible for our own “bad luck” in romance. We purposefully chose abusive men to perpetuate our own need to be victims. And you know what I say to that: pure misogyny.

How can a woman access a healthy heterosexual relationship in a patriarchal culture? In a society in which we are seen as objects for men’s pleasure? In which men are taught to value women more for how they enhance their own social status and personal fulfillment than for their humanity? In which sex is conflated with love? In which porn teaches them how to interact with a woman’s body? In which rape and violence against women is normalized? In which a woman’s love is seen as worthless, except for the fact that its acquisition will give a man access to a woman’s body?

See the problem?

Even if I wanted to keep dating, the odds are not in my favor. And why would anyone choose to keep playing a rigged game?

Iknow this might surprise people, but I’m not sad. I feel no grief over the prospect of never having a partner, never again experiencing sex with another person, never again falling in love.

After everything I have been through, I feel I am losing nothing by remaining alone. I have never had a sexual experience that made what came later worth it. And I have no reason to believe the next man who utters the words “I love you.” I have seen what follows such a declaration, and believe me, it is not love.

I do grieve what I have lost to the men in my life. I grieve the dignity they stole from me, the pain they inflicted upon me, the love they threw away. But I don’t grieve the thought of never having an opportunity to experience a loving relationship with one. It no longer occurs to me that it is likely.

Sometimes, I think this is a good thing. If one of men’s greatest failings is their single-minded obsession with obtaining as much sex with as many new partners as possible (thanks to the patriarchy for that one!), one of women’s greatest failings is the way we’ve been conditioned to have the same single-minded obsession with fairy tale romance.

I truly never realized what a grip that had on me for so many decades, and the freedom I feel in its absence is staggering.

This is a good thing, right? This deprogramming from all the most toxic narratives about heterosexuality?

But I will admit, I do have some concern about the state I’m in. I am not sure it’s ever healthy to experience this level of apathy. Something tells me that’s a bit of a red flag.

And an ever bigger one? The fact that I experience a trauma response at even the thought of the naked male body. The overwhelming nausea that floods me at the idea of a letting a man anywhere near my own naked body. There’s the next chapter in my therapy journey, I suppose.

This, I do grieve. No woman should ever have to end up in a place like this. And god help us, I know so many women just like me who no longer feel safe to continue dating, who no longer are willing to risk their mental health for the prospect of meeting a potential partner. The stakes should not be this high.

Yet here we are.

I would have forgiven Sam. I would have forgiven them all. But, with one exception, they had so little regard for me that amends were not an option. Why apologize or attempt to make peace with someone you don’t see as a fellow human being?

Maybe it’s no wonder that so many women have gone numb. It’s not a good option — but it appears to be the best one available.



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