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The V-Spot: How Do I Tell Dates I’m Heartless?

Dear Yana,

I have a cold, dead heart.

Well, not really but pretty much, yeah. I was married to my ex-wife for nearly a decade and the end of our relationship was really complicated. I feel almost certain that I don’t have the capacity to be in love or be in a relationship ever again.

That being said, I still want to get laid, of course. But my issue is this: I feel as though I’m being pretty up front with my dates about my emotional limitations from the start. However, even though they tell me that they’re okay with not being in a relationship and just having sex, it always ends up feeling like they actually aren’t okay with keeping it casual, expect more from me than I have to give, and I end up disappointing them and being the bad guy.

To make things more complicated, I take a little longer to warm up to people so I’m not very well suited for random, one-night stands. I’m more looking for a friends-with-benefits arrangement that can stay that way without becoming more.

Is this possible? Is there some way that I can avoid this pattern from happening over and over again? It makes me feel as though I just shouldn’t date or have sex with anyone at all and am incapable of not hurting the people that I get involved with and that just sucks.

Thanks for any advice,

-Hopelessly Heartless

Dear Heartless,

I’m catching a whiff of at least a tiny bit of heart left in that chest in your concern that you’re hurting the people that you date when you can’t give them as much emotional connection as they would like. So, we can at least cross off the idea that you truly do not care for others and/or have the emotional landscape of a serial killer — phew!

Being guarded after such a long-term relationship and what sounds like a very disappointing heartbreak is understandable. It’s also understandable that you feel stuck between a one-night-stand rock and a just-enough-emotional-connection-but-not-too-much hard place. It’s not an easy balance to strike and it’s certainly not an easy one to strike with another person’s mind, body, and emotions involved.

To achieve this kind of connection, you’ll have to get better at stating your boundaries even when they’re not ones that your date wants to hear, and probably at times re-stating them, with plenty of check-ins and honesty.

Know that you’re allowed to have boundaries around your emotions, body, time, and space. They don’t have to be the boundaries everyone else has and they certainly don’t have to be the boundaries that anyone else wants you to have. Part of a consent process in any capacity — emotional, legal, sexual, etc. — involves a negotiation process: you present what you want and are interested in (sex outside of a true blue Relationship plus friendship), your date does the same, and then you each decide for yourselves if you want the thing the other person is offering.

Your responsibility here, Heartless, is…continue reading…

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The V-Spot: Healing an Ex-Shaped Hole in the Heart

Dear Yana,

It’s been over a year now since I got my heart stomped by my ex-girlfriend. We were together for 11 years and our relationship ended very badly. Even after such a long term relationship,

I’m still pretty young — in my mid-30s — and I’m pretty sure I’m a catch. But, every time I go out with someone from OKCupid, I never want to see them again. They all seem totally unhinged and just not like anyone I would want to date, casually or otherwise. I’m not even sure that I can do “casual,” now that I think about it.

But I feel like I should be out dating people to see what else is out there and fill this hole in my heart that seems like it’s just never going to go away. How do I let the dating duds down easy while not being a total asshole? What if my heart NEVER heals?

Oh, Holey Heart

 

Dear Holey,

The good news is, heartbreak does heal. Well, at least the agonizing part does. When it comes to long-term loves like the one you describe (an 11-year relationship before you hit 40 runs you through some critical life developments!), the heal time will certainly feel slower. Plus, people’s major loves in life often forever linger. And that’s normal.

The first thing to do, HH, is to stop looking for a replica of your ex. And I don’t mean physically, but more in the way that your specific relationship made you feel when you were first meeting in your 20s, deepening your connection towards your 30s, and whatever you were desperately trying to save towards the end.

A new relationship will not scratch the same itch in the same ways and you as an individual are not the same person you were during the relationship with your ex. Open yourself up to new possibilities of what makes for an attractive partner in the here and now rather than trying to fill the ex-shaped-hole in your heart. Trying to fit an OKCupid date into that shape will prove to be fruitless, frustrating, and a painful reminder that no one will be your ex. And they won’t! And that’s okay. But fighting it makes the healing harder.

Instead, find a new lil’ neighborhood in your heart and let your casual dates hang out there — see if they like it, see if you like it, see what parts of you they challenge, excite, or even point out to you for the first time ever!

Rope off a little place where casual dates are allowed to roam and if you find someone that sticks, you can expand the territory…continue reading…