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Ask Amy: How do I stop sabotaging my relationships?

4 min

Dear Amy: I’m a 65-year-old woman. I’ve been divorced three times now, and have also had a couple of other serious love relationships — all unsuccessful.

I'm single now and trying to understand what I've been doing wrong.

Understand, I'm the one doing the leaving every single time, so my “excuse” has been that I have a “broken picker,” but that sounds like BS — even to me.

I was reading your column and the topic of “love bombing” came up. That’s me! That’s what I do!

I even caught myself love-bombing last week! Some drunken idiot had started flirting with me at a bar, and even as I was thinking to myself “What a fool this guy is,” I was practically fawning over him, doing the whole hanging-on-every-word, oh-aren't-you-fascinating response.

What the heck?

In that moment I recognized my pattern of meeting an interested man, “reeling him in” with all that flattery and attention, and then realizing he's a totally inappropriate fit and discarding him, often only after years and years of misery.

What is wrong with me and how do I stop?!

I've wasted nearly my entire life in this self-sabotaging behavior, and I just want to scream, and hang my head in shame.

I’m hoping you have some wisdom for me.

— Yikes

Yikes: Barroom epiphanies can be extremely powerful, but the point of enlightenment is not to waste time beating up on yourself, but to take the insight and the wisdom forward in order to make some changes.

My take on your behavior is that you are probably already very charming and appealing, even when you're not overwhelming your male prey. My theory is that when you apply your charm with a fire hose, you fall in love — with yourself.

Your behavior seems on the surface to be all about the other person, but it's really all about you.

I suggest that when you realize that you are actually “enough,” you'll stop lobbing your lovely love bombs at every man in sight.

Try this: Stop doing that, and see how it feels! This would require that you deliberately suppress your overwhelming charm, stop leaning in, handle the anxiety that goes along with being quiet, and see if you still love yourself if you put the pin back into the love grenade and do more active listening.

Listen to an idiot for five minutes, and you’ll know he’s an idiot. You won’t need to marry him and then reject him years later. In the process, you’ll build up a residual affection for yourself and confidence in your own discernment.

Ask a friend to remind you to reel yourself in. A wingwoman would really help to keep you honest.

Also, need it be said? Therapy.

Dear Amy: I have been struggling with self-harm for several years now.

Every time I get explosively angry, I end up attacking myself (usually by scratching the insides of my arms, or my face/lips with my nails or some other sharp object).

My parents and sister know this, and it upsets them so much. The last time I did this was three days ago, and this time I had to come clean.

I have now finally opened up fully to my partner and to a few of my friends, and they have been amazing and supportive.

This time I want to stop for good. I really don’t want to do it again.

Is there anything else I can do to stop myself?

— Want to Stop

Want to Stop: You’ve already taken many positive steps: You understand the pattern when you engage in self-harm. You’ve told people about it (and they are being supportive). You want to stop.

You can recover. Specialized therapy will help.

It might help you to read more about self-harm in order to fully understand the triggers and response. The Trevor Project has helpful information, as well as a “lifeline”:

My friends at Crisis Text Line want you to know that you can text them, 24/7. Texting when you feel the pressure rising can help you to cope with the feeling while avoiding the self-injury.

Text HOME to this number: 741741.

Dear Amy: “Protective Partner” told about a female acquaintance aggressively hitting on her fiance, “George.” I liked your advice until I got to the part where you suggested that she could confront this woman at a Fourth of July party at someone else’s house, and “enjoy the fireworks.”


— No Explosions

No: I was being sardonic, and I agree with you.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.