Dear Dategirl,I've been seeing this wonderful man for two months now. He has a great sense of humor, is charming, romantic, and willing to try out different activities together. However, certain things about him remind me of the ex I dumped three years ago. That guy physically assaulted me, but, even worse, I discovered he's a pedophile. I've been to several therapists about this, but none have worked for me so far. I'm sure Mr. Wonderful is not a pedophile and wouldn't ever harm me, but I'm not sure where to go from here with the issue. Should I break it off now when there are no strong emotions attached, tell him about my past with the ex, or keep it to myself?—GunShy
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Like you, I have a violent, evil man in my past (two, actually). Before I shacked up with the Large Greek, whenever I met a guy who reminded me of either, I ran as fast as my stubby little legs would take me.Maybe this policy was unfair and I cheated myself out of some awesome relationships, but I don't think so. Years of dating Mr. Wrongs have taught me to trust my gut, something we ladies seem to have a lot of trouble doing.As I learned when I ran into one of the evil exes last month, I have a visceral reaction to them. My hands sweat, my heart starts pounding, and I'm filled with rage. So as far as I'm concerned, I did these unfortunate look-alikes a favor. After all, who'd wanna date a seething sweatball?!Even though these few-and-far-between doppelgängers were probably benign, nice fellows, they all had something concrete in common with the exes—either they looked like one, sounded like the other, or just exuded a certain vibe that I couldn't put my finger on. No matter how nice they might be, why would I want to be around someone who was a constant reminder of some of the most miserable years of my life?You don't say what he does that reminds you of the ex, but it doesn't sound as if he's rough with you. Is he creepy around kids? Is he the first person you've dated since the vile baby-raper? Because you need to figure out if it's this guy in particular who's giving you the heebie-jeebies, or if you're having this reaction simply because you're letting your guard down. After a traumatic experience like the one you've been through, it's pretty natural to be scared to let anyone in.You say you've tried therapists and they haven't worked. My advice is to try again. Find someone experienced with PTSD and dealing with battered women. Not all therapists are created equal. I've had a lot of crappy shrinks before, and a bad one can actually make things worse. Like the guy who informed me that masturbation was a sin. (Did he think that would make it less appealing?)My current therapist is amazing. It took me a lot of trial and error to find her, but I'm so happy I did. I hope you will consider another try, because otherwise you're letting that evil man abuse you all over again.As for this new guy—well, I would tell him what's up. Inform him of your history and see how he reacts. Let him know what happened, and that you're still having trouble reconciling that part of your life today. His reaction will probably go a long way in helping you identify the right course of firstname.lastname@example.org