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Getting Past Your Past

Dr. Neder,

I came across your articles on the Internet and thought I'd write for some advice. The short story is this: I was sexually abused throughout most of my younger years. Now, as I start to cope with this as a 32 year old man, I have found a 22 year old woman with whom I share many things. She has had questions in the past about many life issues, and has said she has many emotional challenges growing up.

She is a genuine sweetheart, and I am interested in her, but assuming I ever ask her out, how do we get past the age thing? Also, what can I do to open myself to someone after having been out of the dating game for the last decade? I've had no girlfriends, no real friends, no nothing....and now this ray of sunshine; this gem comes into my life! She has recently broken up with her boyfriend and is now available again. How long is too long to wait to ask her out, how soon is too soon?



You've covered a lot of ground with your questions. Let's see if I can shed some light on them:

1) Age difference

The only age difference issue lies in those 6 inches between your ears. I'm older than you and have recently dated women as young as 23. 10 years is certainly not a big issue, and in fact, you're actually much more attractive to a younger woman because you have life experience. Are there differences between someone at her age and yours? You bet, but dating isn't about differences, it's about similarities. Focus on what you have in common - not what's different between you two. Then, share your differences while expanding both your worlds. Age is only a number.

2) Getting past your past

I'm sorry to hear about your past, but remember Ė your past isn't who you are now. In fact, you aren't really even defined by it unless you CHOOSE to be. That's a very important concept and you should go back and re-read it as many times as it takes to really get it to sink in. Everyone has had challenges in their past. Each of us deals with them in different ways. Who you are today might be molded by that past, but you ARE NOT YOUR PAST - those are only experiences that influenced you because you survived them, not because they happened.

This is a very difficult concept for many to grasp. You aren't "damaged", and in fact you are probably much stronger than people that didn't experience these things. You are the result of the survival, not of the abuse. However, if you focus on the abuse, you limit the ability of the survivalist within you to take charge and to come out. I hope that you've been through counseling about all of this and have put it behind you. If not, you need to do this right away. Consider that counseling isn't really about healing you - it's about making you the person you'll ultimately become for the people you'll meet in your life - like this woman! She deserves to have the best YOU she can have, but she can't make you that person - you have to do this on your own.

3) Learning the dating game

You say you've spent the last decade without a girlfriend or many friends. Unfortunately, that too is a choice. People don't come to you on their own - you go get them. In effect, you've spent the last decade stunting your own growth by not doing this! You have some real work to do now in order to catch up. The up-side to this is that there's lots of information and self-study available to you. I suggest you start with my books, "Being a Man in a Woman's World I & II" as they'll teach you the game from the inside out. You also need to better understand how women think, act, communicate, etc. These are all things you'll learn from the books.

Most guys spend years on trial and error, never really learning most of what they need to know. Women don't do this anywhere near as much! They have all sorts of relationship-study material available including books, movies, magazines and especially their own friends and family. Women spend their entire lives perfecting the techniques of relationships. While that's good for them, it's bad for you! The trial and error method means you're going to have to go through all sorts of relationships and try to learn from each one. Will you get the right lessons? Who knows? That's even more reason why you should seek out this information now rather than hope you'll just stumble upon it.

4) How long should you wait to ask her out?

Answer: about 1 minute should do it! There's an assumption that someone has to go through a "healing period" after a break up. For some people that might be true, but most people benefit from getting right back up on the horse that bucked them off. You don't really know the inside story of her relationship! Maybe she's been on the "exit plan" for over a year and actually broke up with him emotionally quite some time ago. On the other hand, maybe she got dumped right out of the blue. You don't know, but then, it's not your job to know. You're not committing any crimes here by asking her out! You're offering her some time to get to know a great guy. That sounds like a pretty good deal regardless of her past!

I suggest you get to started changing your life right now. Not everything will always work to your favor, but nobody is so special as to fail every single time. You can do this by merely deciding it. Make the decision and get going!

Best regards...

Have a love, dating, relationship, sex or man/woman question? I answer all email. You can write to me at dwneder@beingaman.com for answers. For more information about my books, "Being a Man in a Woman's World" (volumes I & II), and other products visit: www.beingaman.com. Check out the discussion group at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/beingaman.

Copyright (c) 2005, Dr. Dennis W. Neder
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