Dear Caitlin: We had sex and he never spoke to me again

DSCF0182Dear Caitlin,

I met a guy online, and we went out about 9 times before having sex. After we slept together, he said he had a great time and he would call me. He never did. I contacted him and he didn’t answer. I feel like he used me and I wish we hadn’t had sex. I’ve been in a bad mood since this happened, a little depressed, and I can’t seem to shake it. I just feel bad about myself;like a piece of shit, honestly.  That’s how he treated me. As if I didn’t matter. I thought this relationship was going somewhere and I was completely wrong. I’m worried this is going to happen again. I keep wondering what I did and what he didn’t like about me. Any advice?

Thanks,

Used

Dear Unused,

I’m sorry this man disappointed you this way. It hurts a lot when these things happen. However, I hope that you can change your view about this scenario, because right now you’re blaming yourself for someone else’s actions. That is misplaced anger, and you don’t deserve to carry it; he who hurt you does.

I’m curious as to why you assume that something is wrong with YOU? It’s hard to view other people’s actions as reflective of who THEY are, not who you are. But that is reality. This guy did something shitty. Why does that make YOU a piece of shit? The story you make up about this experience is that this man thinks you aren’t worth more than a one night stand. There are many other stories we can make up to explain his actions. Why cling to that one?

Some people feel better when they blame themselves for other people’s actions because it gives them a sense of control.  They feel better if they can pin-point a reason for someone else’s behavior (even if the reason isn’t valid). The truth is, you can’t know why this person treated you this way. There are millions of reasons for his actions OTHER than that you don’t deserve better. The anxiety that comes along with not knowing is often worse than the pain that comes with self-blame. That’s why it’s important to work on handling the unknown.

Keep in mind that depression is anger turned inward,frequently leading to negative thoughts about yourself. You have a right to be angry at yourself if you want to be, but at least be fair, and give this guy some of the anger you’re carrying. This is your life to live, and you can choose to blame yourself and think something is wrong with you.  Or, you can choose to believe in yourself and decide that you deserved better. If you tell yourself this enough, you’ll believe it, just as you’ve told yourself you’re a piece of shit enough to believe that.

It feels awful to be treated this way, but you must learn not to let other people’s actions define who you are and what you’re worth. If you know who you are, NO MATTER WHAT, you’ll be able to hold onto that, and not be easily knocked down by others. For example, you’ll be able to experience rejection without defining yourself by it. Life is much easier when you know other people’s actions are because of them, not you.

Don’t give up on dating. Use these experiences as a chance to practice having higher self-esteem. Take breaks from dating to reflect and learn from experiences as needed. Therapist’s orders!

Hope this helps!

My best,

Caitlin

Send your questions to therapy@caitlincantor.com! If you have them, others do too! 

The information contained on Caitlin’s Couch, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and any other material thereon, is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to (and does not), provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to the reader or to any other individual.  The sole purpose of Caitlin’s Couch is to promote discussion, dialogue and awareness of various topics relating to lifestyle and mental health. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on Caitlin’s Couch.

Comments

  1. Sometimes people don’t know what to say after a sexual encounter that didn’t go as expected. It’s easier to not return phone calls than to talk about that with a new partner. Disappointment or awkwardness is more about the dynamic between two people than it is about flaws in one or the other. It’s not personal even though it can feel wounding. In this case the guy was wrong to ignore her calls. But sex is experimental. It can be hard to know in advance how well it will go for both partners. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out. There is no shame in that. We are not going to be a good fit with everyone. Each time we make ourselves vulnerable and have sex with a new partner we take a risk. It might be amazing or a disaster. It isn’t always easy to shake off bad experiences and move on as we must.

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