DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.)
One divorced mom has met the proverbial Prince Charming. So what’s the problem? All this attention is making her uncomfortable! Here’s how to approach this issue with tact and grace.
Courtesy of Match.com’s Happen Magazine
Dear Dr. Gilda,
I struck gold! I got a man who loves to take me out to fancy restaurants and buy me expensive things. He loves my seven-month-old son to pieces and buys him things, too. He believes in treating a woman like a princess and tells me on a daily basis how much he cares and how beautiful I am. I always wanted a man like this. The problem is that I just got out of a marriage where this was not the case. In fact, the two men are like night and day; my ex-husband treated me like crap and did nothing for me. As much as I love being spoiled, I can’t handle it. And I am not good at confrontations. I don’t know how to tell him when enough is enough. Do you think I am being spoiled too much or that I’m overreacting? Please help me!
Dear Spoiled Princess,
So you think that you’ve met Prince Charming? He wines you, dines you, buys you expensive gifts, loves your child, extols your beauty and adores everything that is YOU. Most women would say, “Girl, since you don’t appreciate this dude, just send him my way!” So what’s the rub?
Ladies out there, listen up! Be careful what you wish for, because if you get it, it may not be what you think you deserve. Why? In the case of our Spoiled Princess, it might simply be an issue of timing.
After divorce, most people reassess their sense of self-worth. They question their own desirability, their capacity to attract a new partner and the likelihood of sustaining another long-term romance. This period is what I like to call “crazy time.” After my divorce, I was so distracted that I got into car accidents. But now I see that those accidents took my mind off my heartache. They also, thankfully, protected me from making a dumb relationship mistake — one which I was too vulnerable to size up accurately and with a clear head during that time.
“Crazy time” should be followed by “alone time” so you can reflect deeply on what happened in your marriage and why it ended. Reflection is vital; no matter what you do or who you decide to date next, you don’t want to revisit the same behaviors you’re trying to leave behind.
Now, let’s discuss this alleged Prince. As my book title says, Don’t Bet on the Prince! — and I literally mean NEVER. I don’t say that you can’t love the Prince, but you shouldn’t depend on him to provide for your emotional sustenance, financial rewards, or salvation of any kind. For example, Princess, if you had your wits about you right now you’d be asking why someone is trying this hard to win you over. Some feasible explanations include:
1. He’s more interested in the thrill of the chase than in the actual target herself.
2. He’s too self-absorbed to acknowledge what you’re feeling.
3. As my Gilda-Gram says, “We attract not who we want, but who we are.” In other words, the Prince may be a spoiled brat himself.
4. He spends money arbitrarily and really does not have a dime to his name. (I’ve dated a guy like this myself!)
5. He indiscriminately showers all the women he knows with goodies to ingratiate himself with them, but he’s really camouflaging his own low self-esteem.
Any of these explanations — or none of them — might be true. You just don’t know him that well at this early stage in the dating game, and you’re not skilled yet in reading new love interests and their supposed intentions.
This is what I recommend you do for now: steal some ME time. If you don’t want to break up with the Prince, at least back off a little for a while. Your objective now is to figure out who YOU are so you can assess who HE is and whether you really want him — gifts and compliments notwithstanding.
Take an assertiveness training course to learn how to gracefully say “no” and confront others when issues arise. Assertiveness is vital not just for your dating life, but for ALL your life as a woman on her own. Work with a therapist to understand how your feelings about what you “deserve” in a partner motivates what you manifest in your dating life. Raise your self-esteem slowly so that when love comes calling again, you’ll believe you are worthy of receiving it.
As you plant your feet on solid ground, keep reminding yourself to slow down. If this guy is truly your Prince, he’ll understand that you need time to work on yourself because you’re not ready for this type of relationship just yet. Otherwise, he may be just another frog! In either case, as soon as you step back a bit, his response will show you how to proceed next.
DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) at http://www.DrGilda.com is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is Match.com’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist published on MSN.com. Also, she is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,” 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show. Visit her website and get Instant Advice!