After appreciating your witty and scathing replies every week, I can't help but laugh. It's good to laugh; I hate to take all of this too seriously. However, if there are as many nut-job guys out there as it appears, I'm curling up with a book and a vibrator and never coming out. I just got out of a three-year (well, really two years— we broke up so often) relationship. He was very insecure and always imagining I was off trying to hook up with another guy. I'm 45 for chrissakes!! I don't have that much sex appeal. I've given up. Are there any normal guys out there? I hope your new relationship is working out. I need some hope that it's working for someone. Most of my girlfriends are in the same place as I'm in. We're burned out.
If it makes you feel any better, my current relationship is going very well at the moment, even though it feels like tempting fate and inviting disaster to say so. So yes, there are some normal(ish) men out there. (Not that my boyfriend is remotely normal, but he is sweet, funny, and kind, which is what's most important.) You just have to look. And look. And look some more.
Bear in mind, to get to this point I first dated every mutant freak within a 114-mile radius of my home. My current (hopefully not fleeting) success is more a matter of odds than anything else. I'd simply exhausted the area's supply of mental cases, felons, and substance abusers.
I certainly understand your wariness to date after spending years with a paranoid, suspicious kook. It may interest you to know that most of the overly suspicious men I've dated have turned out to be either cheaters themselves or, even worse, abusive jackasses. So count yourself lucky to be done with him.
After two (or three) years in a high-maintenance relationship, you deserve to curl up with a vibrator and a book for a month or two. Just don't turn it into a way of life. (I was once celibate for two years after a particularly gut-wrenching breakup—don't let that happen to you!) Once you get out there again, you'll see that frequent dating breaks are crucial for even the heartiest of daters (such as myself). Dating one month on/one month off (unless you stumble across someone good) is a surefire way to avoid burnout.
Coming out of my last LTR, I was so excited to be sleeping with men who bathed regularly and didn't drink themselves into a stupor every night that I overlooked many red flags and sold myself short on far too many occasions. Like, yes, it's nice that he smells good, but the fact that he calls you "Mommy" as he fucks you trumps good hygiene. Or, sure, it's neat that he has a job, but the fact that it's illegal negates all positives. Ahem. Hopefully you're a little wiser than I am.
One thing I wanted to point out—not to give your ex's nutty paranoia any credence whatsoever—but 45 is hardly too old to cheat. The only reason I bring this up (and please don't think I'm taking his side—he sounds deranged) is because a friend's mom started cheating on her dad just after he retired! At 70, she left her husband for her side piece! Who, PS, had ditched his dying wife to be with her! Not only that, but the same poor friend just came back from a visit with her aunt and uncle only to be told by her cousin that Uncle Philanderous is stepping out on Auntie Clueless with a neighbor lady. The horrified cousin doesn't know what to do or say about that! Again, we're talking not about people in their 20s or even 30s, but about longtime married folk in their 70s!
But these are people who've been stuck with the same person for decades. When you've spent the past 20 years drifting from six-month relationship to two-year entanglement, the idea of cheating just sounds exhausting. Once you've got your energy back, get back on that penis, I mean, pony. It sounds like you've found the key to being a successful dater, which is to not take it (or yourself or them) too seriously.
In a rut? Write Dategirl at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.