It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Heartbreaker,” a 23-year-old computer science major who couldn’t stop all the guys from falling in love with her, and even started dating one of the students whose class she was TA-ing. “Please teach me to set boundaries,” she wrote. Keep reading to see what she’s learned.
Dear Wendy and all the commenters,
Thank you so much for all your comments. You really kick-started some growing up that I maybe should have done a long time ago. After I read all your comments, I was honestly shocked. I did not recognize myself in your assessments at all and for some time I kept my bad patterns up – the difference being that now every time I did something stupid I realized how it was preventing me from being the person I actually wanted to be and having the kinds of relationships I wanted to have.
I started focusing on my friends and my education, but I also joined online dating to get my “drama” other places than where I hang out every day. I met a lot of sweet, attentive guys and I realized that I am not emotionally available for a serious, mutually-respectful relationship without any drama. Every date I went out on either went too fast or he was too clingy or not smart enough–and, frankly, I was a real snob about men.
I was really lucky to meet an amazing guy and fall in love during the summer. Unfortunately, I did not pursue that relationship since it would have led to a long-distance relationship. Having already had a long-distance relationship for two years this is a deal-breaker for me. He did, however, remind me what it’s supposed to feel like. So on some level I probably pursued a lot of the men who liked me for validation, but, the minute they showed any interest, I’d lose interest. I suspect I don’t actually feel worthy of a good guy’s love. It’s weird, because I know I am pretty and cool, but I do not feel pretty and cool.
And you were totally right – everybody knows about me and the student. I’ve been so incredibly lucky that it has transformed into a wonderful friendship. In fact, I’ve been lucky with a lot of things from my time of major screw-ups. I would list them all, but there are a lot.
When I wrote the original letter, I was in a really emotional state and I felt very sorry for myself that I couldn’t just do whatever I wanted without any consequences. I was a privileged, spoiled brat. I try to wake up every day thankful for where I am in life: I have amazing people in my life and I love what I do. I was so afraid that I would stop meeting new people if I wasn’t open and initiating, but I still continue making new acquaintances, while also forming tighter bonds with my friends (many of these are actually women; I know — crazy, right?). Maybe one day the perfect guy will show up and knock me over with how wonderful he is, but right now there’s not room for anybody other than me. I have also taken my profile off the dating site, since I am actually not looking to date anyone.
I am still not quite there, not quite sure of myself, but taking my focus off men has really helped immensely. Now if only I could get laid regularly…
Thanks for the update! There’s nothing wrong with taking time to focus on YOU and your personal and professional goals. Your early 20s, before you have the kinds of responsibilities many people ten years older have, is a great time to be a little more self-involved than at other times in life. Just don’t forget that, when you’re ready for a real relationship, you’ll need to compromise and not make yourself and your needs the center of your world anymore.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at email@example.com.