Finding the love of your life can sometimes seem impossible, especially with so many jerks out there. If you believe you’ve found your special guy, but you’re hesitant because of his past, you aren’t alone. Many women hesitate to accept a guy with hang-ups, but you need to determine what baggage you can and can’t live with.
Maybe this guy was hurt in the past, and you feel like you can deal with it. That’s great, however, if you decide to proceed with the relationship, you need to do so with caution. Dating someone who has been emotionally damaged in a previous relationship can be a lot more challenging than you may believe.
Sure, some guys are more sensitive than others, and some guys have been through severe emotional chaos, which could have wreaked havoc on their ability to have a healthy relationship. If you don’t handle this guy carefully, you could push him away and even unintentionally add to his emotional baggage. The more cautious you are, the more likely you will succeed at helping him to heal and enable him to be the man he wants to be.
Guys who have been hurt in the past may seem needy or be a lot to deal with, but men are human too, and some have been cheated on, verbally abused, or more. If you feel you’re up for the challenge, that’s great. To help you, here are 6 tips for dating a guy who has been hurt so you can have a happy and fulfilling relationship together.
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1. Tread slowly and patiently
It can be frustrating to date a guy who has been hurt before. At times, he may seem hesitant to do certain things, especially when it involves spending more time together or growing closer. However, if you expect things to progress, you need to let him go at his own pace. It’s important to remember that it may take him a while to be ready for a serious relationship even if you might be ready right away.
If you push too hard and try to get him to move faster than he’s ready to, you could lose him. Regardless of how attracted you are to him – and him to you – you need to let him make the first move. If he’s giving you cues that he wants you to make the first move, however, this could be a good thing; just make sure you are absolutely sure.
2. Give him the space he needs
If your guy gives you cues that he needs space, then you need to give it to him. If you don’t, then your intentions could backfire. He’s trying to overcome emotional trauma while also trying to love again. Even if you feel like he’s overreacting to what he’s been through, he obviously doesn’t feel that way.
Never, ever say that he should get over his past already, as this will only make things worse and possibly make him push you away. Everyone handles trauma differently, and whatever happened to him to make him this way – regardless of what it was – was obviously extreme for him. By giving him space when he needs it and not trying to force yourself on him, you will increase the chances that he’ll be able to move on to the next phase of the relationship.
3. Gently encourage him to express his feelings
While it may not be a good idea to ask your man to discuss the specifics of what hurt him, it is a good idea to gently encourage him to express his feelings. By freely expressing your own feelings to him, he might eventually share how he feels too. You should also be prepared for the fact that he may withhold his feelings for a while, especially in the beginning.
Again, be patient with him and allow him time to adjust to being in a loving and expressive relationship. When he feels ready, he will eventually come around.
4. Share your past experiences with him
By sharing your past experiences with your broken guy, you increase the chances that he will trust you and share his experiences as well. While you certainly shouldn’t expect this on the first date or two, the more honest and thorough you are when expressing your former hurtful experiences, the more likely he is to let down his guard and tell you why he is the way he is. Hearing your past experiences can help him to realize that other people have been through traumas too and came out OK.
If you were ever cheated on by an ex or mistreated in any other manner, tell him about it. Tell him how you handled it and how you felt. Don’t make up stories, however, just to make him feel like opening up; if you aren’t absolutely sincere, he’ll be able to tell and then he may never trust you.
5. Realize that you can’t erase his pain or his past
As much as you may want to try, you can’t erase your boyfriend’s pain or his past. All you can do is be there for him now and treat him like he deserves to be treated: with love, understanding, patience, and affection. If you attempt to erase his pain, it will only frustrate you and potentially cause him to continually relive his past experiences.
Show him how a real relationship should be, and he will eventually realize that he’s lucky to have you. Having you loyally and lovingly by his side means he can and will heal, although no one can predict how long it might take.
6. Don’t take it personally if he doesn’t trust you at the beginning
At the very beginning of your relationship, your guy may be very leery and wrongly believe that you’re after his money, trying to use him in some other way, or planning on cheating on him. You shouldn’t take these accusations personally, and all you can do is prove to him that you genuinely care for him and that you have no plans to hurt him in any way. He may not believe you at first, but if you remain patient and refrain from allowing his way of thinking to bother you, then you will eventually make some progress.
As you and your sweetheart grow closer, he may start becoming jealous and possessive. As long as he doesn’t become violently jealous and possessive, you should be able to assure him that you only have eyes for him. However, if he becomes physically or mentally abusive, then you need to call it quits right away.
Regardless of what your guy may have been through, it doesn’t give him the right to abuse you in any manner. If he gets to that point, then he’s obviously a lot more damaged than either of you realized. You should leave him immediately if any type of abuse occurs and demand that he seeks mental health assistance.
You may want to reconcile with him in the future but do so with caution and only after he’s had proper mental health treatment. Life is too short to waste it on an abusive guy. It’s unfortunate that he was emotionally damaged in the past, but it isn’t your fault, nor should you have to be punished because someone else hurt him.
As you can see, dating a guy who has been hurt in the past can be a major challenge. However, men like this can sometimes be some of the best, most loyal lovers ever – but only if you take things at his pace and him them to get to that point. It might seem like a lot of hard work, but for many women, their guys are worth the wait.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s common for women to wonder how they help their previously hurt boyfriend heal so that their relationship together can progress. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions that will hopefully help you to have an easier time with your “broken” guy.
My boyfriend seemed very interested in me at the beginning of our relationship. We went out for a couple of dates, and then he planned to spend the entire weekend at my place, which was his suggestion. He arrived on Friday, and we had a hot night in bed, but left on Saturday instead of Sunday and has been distant ever since, barely responds to my text messages, and won’t answer my calls. What went wrong? What did I do to scare him away?
You likely did nothing to scare him off. He obviously really cares for you, or he wouldn’t have suggested spending the weekend with you in the first place. However, he’s delicate right now and advancing to a sexual relationship is a big deal and likely made him realize that he’s falling for you. This can be scary for someone who’s experienced emotional trauma.
To help him through this, give him a bit of time to process everything. Since he hasn’t answered any of your calls, he’s obviously not ready to talk to you, so allow him to call you when he’s ready. Text him and let him know how you feel about him and that you’ll be waiting to hear from him when he’s ready. Don’t pressure him by continually texting him – this could push him further away.
You’re sure to miss him and want to hear from him, and he probably feels the same about you, but the relationship probably moved too fast, and he didn’t realize he wasn’t ready until he was at your house and in bed. He should come around after a couple of days, and if he doesn’t, then you may have to face the fact that he’s simply not ready for a relationship at this time.
I’ve been with my “broken” boyfriend for almost a year, and he’s come a long way and we even live together now. However, at times, he becomes distant like he did in the beginning, and I don’t know how to handle this. What should I do?
Your boyfriend may have healed enough to be able to be in a normal, loving relationship, but it doesn’t mean that he’s forgotten about his past traumatic experiences. Perhaps certain situations, either in real life or possibly even on television, reminded him of what he went through when he was traumatized and caused him to revert to his former “protective shell.” While it may seem like he’s pulling away from you, that’s probably not his intention and he’s simply coping with these resurfaced feelings the only way he knows how.
All you can do is be supportive, reassuring, and patient. If he appears to need some time alone, give it to him. Hopefully, these episodes don’t last long or happen very often, but if they do and they seem like they’re interfering with your happiness, then you might want to suggest couple’s therapy. If he’s willing, it could work wonders for you both and help enrich your relationship. If not, then you need to decide if you can handle this behavior and still be happy. You’ve come this far, so it may take just a bit more patience for him to completely heal.
This guy that I’ve been seeing for about 4 months is so awesome in every way, but his ex-wife cheated on him and he won’t allow us to spend time alone. He’s afraid we’ll end up in bed together and he’s not ready. All we can do is go out on dates in public. I’m at the end of my rope and I’m ready to break things off, but I don’t want to add to his emotional turmoil. What should I do?
If you really love this man, you should give him time. Four months is really not that long when it comes to trusting after experiencing severe trauma. Enjoy him as much as you can while you’re out on dates, and if you’re experiencing sexual frustration, buy a vibrator and use it to relieve yourself. In the meantime, work on building trust with your boyfriend. You could try having a dinner party at your house and inviting him. Assure him that there will be other guests there as well. If he comes, perhaps you can continue finding ways to have him over while other people are there so he can first get used to being at your place. Once he’s comfortable being there while other people are there, maybe he’ll be ready for dinner and a movie at your place, alone. Don’t push if he declines. Baby steps work best.
If, on the other hand, you’re not that into him and you’re really tired of dealing with his behavior, you have the right to break things off. You shouldn’t remain in a relationship with someone you’re not happy with just because you’re afraid of hurting his feelings. Of course, you should let him down as easily as possible, but if he really cares for you, it will still be a blow. It could even force him to come out of his shell and invite you to his house for some time alone. You never know.