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Why do so many women "settle" or put up with crap right from the off?

(30 Posts)
ShatnersWig Mon 10-Oct-16 13:32:35

My best friend started seeing a guy nearly three months ago. She's been single, some single dates and two very short-lived (ie, two month relationships) aside, for 10 years. She's attractive, interesting and intelligent and independent. No children.

Her one serious LTR lasted 5 years but she admits she became a total doormat. Her friends and family didn't like him much because how she changed over time. Now she's been seeing a chap for almost three months and she's already reverting to being a bit of a doormat.

She always said she would never date someone who'd been married before or had kids, as if she was ever to do this, she wanted it to be mutual first time. The older she has got, I figured she may need to compromise (possibly on the marriage thing as being the easier of the two to jettison). She is now approaching 40.

This guy, after being constantly chatty on the phone or text, started to cool off, made her think she was cooling off (when she wasn't) and is constantly blowing her off with excuses. He's always very busy (which I could accept but he only sees his three kids every other weekend), seemingly has regular work issues at night (had to stay in to do a two-hour disciplinary on Friday night this last week).

Yet she continues to go along with this. Every friend doesn't get it, thinks he's taking her for a mug and whenever you ask about him, instead of being blissfully happy, it is quite clear she is anything but. It's like she is so lonely after so long, she's prepared to accept a few crumbs.

Why do so many women put up with shit? In the early days, you tend to show off your best side. If within three months, a guy starts doing this, and making you feel down so often, why don't you bash it on the head?

adora1 Mon 10-Oct-16 13:45:55

I know what you mean, I have a friend who constantly gets involved with the wrong men, usually married or at least in a relationship. Once they have had sex with her they disappear, she's been doing it for years, no matter what anyone says she rinses then repeats, some folk just don't want to know and seem hell bent on having any man, no matter how crap, I have stopped saying anything about it to her as I know I am wasting my time.

From my friend's pov, she feels she only deserves whatever crap they throw her way, I guess only intense therapy would help her to change her mind but I don't see that happening any time soon either.

This is a woman with 2 grown up kids in her forties who says well he obviously isn't getting on very well with is wife/gf and that's why he comes to me, she can't actually see it's just free sex as far as they are concerned, very sad.

ShotsFired Mon 10-Oct-16 13:56:52

That is odd. I have seen this usually in people who have never been single - it's like they simply cannot function without a relationship on the go, so something is better than nothing (it really isn't!)

But for someone who has been single so much and presumably quite capably independent as your friend, is a little strange. Could it just be that her lack of relationships means she doesn't really have anything to compare it to? Or - dare I say it - she is just enjoying not having to be "in charge" of everything. Being a doormat is an easy way out from always having to be The Permanently Responsible One, if you see what I mean?

(I say this as a fellow v v long term single person, now in a r'ship - I still find some elements difficult to navigate because I don't know what is "normal"! Although usually I go the other way and get all defensive if I feel my independence/capability is being called into question.)

Didijustgetwinkpointshitcanned Mon 10-Oct-16 13:58:16



mysistersimone Mon 10-Oct-16 14:03:15

It's long term conditioning to think you're worth nothing more. I'm stuck in an unhappy relationship that I've come to realise was just like my parents (emotionally abusive) so its what I was raised with. Do you know what your friends parents were like?

You have the good fortune to have perspective in your friend. If she's in a box all she sees is that box. If you're outside you can see the bigger picture. I think there's more pressure to be coupled up as you get older as the prospect of a single life is daunting. Are you happily attached?

All you can Do is gently, and consistently remind her she's worth more. I have friends that have told me this for years but it takes me to make that decision myself.

ShatnersWig Mon 10-Oct-16 14:09:32

Shots But she is still having to be in charge. She still sends most of the messages, she organises dates that he then cancels. Did is spot on, I feel. It's very sad. I don't think it is any coincidence that this month it will be 10 years since she split with the one LTR ex and next spring she will be 40. The bizarre thing is that she could gone back to trying online dating any time in the last 4 years (since the last short-lived thing) and found guys without kids who would have time for her. Both of the short-lived things she bumped on the head because the first guy was busy with work so she felt he didn't have enough time for her, the second guy had kids and also didn't have enough time for her. So here she is with someone with even less time for her.

WilliamHerschel Mon 10-Oct-16 14:18:00

My oldest friend is like this. She is beautiful, she really is. She is clever and really fun to be with but she has been out with some terrible men. I think she has quite low self esteem because she lets men walk all over her. You'd never know if you met her though, she talks a good talk but she's actually really sensitive. One was emotionally abusive and threatening. I hated him. She still sees him occasionally and is friendly to him. Another who didn't want to leave his mummy. He strung her along for years and I suspect he cheated on her a lot. Sometimes I want to just shake her and tell her she's amazing and she should not put up with what she does but she always seems to end up with these waste of space guys. In many ways she is strong, and very independent but when she gets in a relationship she becomes at the man's beck and call. Part of it seems to be that she is resigned to the fact that men will treat her a bit shit. It makes me sad.

ShatnersWig Mon 10-Oct-16 14:31:34

William How bizarre - the ex in the one LTR was a mummy's boy, too.

The sad thing is she has been asked out by some really nice guys who would treat her like the Crown Jewels but she never finds them attractive (even though they aren't back ends of buses by any stretch). I do wonder if she gives off a vibe to these guys so they realize they can make no effort. It is like she literally becomes a different person to these guys than to everyone else.

Kidnapped Mon 10-Oct-16 14:36:51

Any bloke is better than no bloke. For some anyway.

And society generally doesn't view single women in their mid 30s or older very positively (old maid, left on the shelf etc.).

And of course lots of women want to have children. And short of sperm donation, a bloke is required - even an inadequate one might look attractive it is the only real option.

Lots of couples only really socialise with other couples, so if you are single then you can be left out of dinner parties etc.

House prices are high. It can be difficult to buy a nice house on just one salary (and renting can be an insecure business if you really want stability).

And of course, some women feeling that they're not really worth treating well. I agree it is awfully sad.

HotNatured Mon 10-Oct-16 16:45:36

Desperation. That's the long and the short of it. That and shit self esteem sad

I was in a terrible relationship for nine years, it really wore me down, I was so unhappy, but I stayed because the relationship broke my self esteem so much that I was to weak to leave.

Five years on and lots of working on myself, therapy, etc and I just dumped a guy for talking about his ex too much at dinner on a romantic weekend away (he wasn't even being positive about her). He was shocked. I won't put up with any shit now. I'm probably too 'hard' but I'd rather have my self esteem and dignity intact than be with a guy who doesn't respect me.

One of the many plus sides of this is that 'good' and 'decent' men tend to be attracted to confident women who know themselves and don't deal in nonsense. The rubbish poor quality men with issues tend to be attracted to vulnerable women who they perceive as 'damaged', weak and easy to manipulate.

TheNaze73 Mon 10-Oct-16 16:51:37

Neediness, no self respect, desperation. The list is endless

strangeclouds Mon 10-Oct-16 17:45:55

Because being alone can be really shit. Self-esteem, your friends' admiration, being intelligent, interesting etc etc. doesn't keep you warm at night.

Even if your friend's aware it's not a good relationship, she may think a bit of human warmth/sex/intimacy sometimes is better than none at all. A few crumbs, as you say.

Donor sperm and fertility treatments are a difficult and expensive option. An imperfect boyfriend might seem like a better choice, or the only choice, if you want a last-ditch chance to conceive.

If you've been single for years, people will probably suggest, or imply, that you're being too fussy. If you're left single when everyone has partners, you'll start wondering if it's true. Maybe you are too fussy and should accept less than you dreamed of. Or maybe there's something wrong with you, and you should be grateful to accept any relationship you can get.

This man doesn't sound a good bet, and I hope your friend finds someone better. Is there anything you can do to help bring her into contact with new men who might be more promising - for example introduce her to any of your acquaintances or colleagues, or go with her to places/events where you might chat with new people?

ShatnersWig Tue 11-Oct-16 08:39:05

Strange I'm single myself, have been for over 6 years now. I get the loneliness but it doesn't mean I settle for something that doesn't make me happy. Also means I don't encounter anyone nice to set her up with either!

I saw her again last night with two other friends and the first thing the other two friends said to her was "are you OK? you've not been your usual bubbly self for a few weeks" and of course best friend said "I'm just tired". Real answer is that she didn't see bloke on Sunday because "he's busy with sport". This after blowing her out on Friday night "because of work".

She's also involved in a hobby which is really important to her. There's a big event she's in at the end of the month. Apparently he's not coming because "it's not his thing". I don't care if it's not his thing. They will have been together over three months, you start supporting your girlfriend. She's twice, I also discovered last night, had to ASK him if they ARE dating in the last six weeks because of his reticence. He gives her all the assurances of course. Sigh.

HotNatured Tue 11-Oct-16 08:56:07

Bottom line is he can smell her desperation and vulnerability and he has absolutely no respect for her due to this. Men like him are predators, they can sniff out 'weakness' at ten paces. The more she pushes the more he will pull away. The more her self esteem will erode and the more she will believe that she isn't worthy of this prince of a man. Its a cycle of shitness.

Kidnapped Tue 11-Oct-16 09:46:27

And of course, it doesn't help that he is dishonest in the relationship. He gives her all the 'assurances'.

I'd have a lot more respect for a man who stated at the start of the relationship "Look, I want to see you as and when I would like to. No more than that. I certainly won't be changing my life to accommodate you. Take it or leave it'.

Then at least you know where you stand. And if you want to take on the relationship on those terms.

HotNatured Tue 11-Oct-16 14:40:05

Thing is a lot of men do say all of that, but some women end up falling for them, especially once sex is in the mix, they develop feelings, then the guy, instead of seeing this and ending the 'relationship' just sticks around and prolongs the agony, because they don't give a shit about the woman and they get sex on tap + an adoring fawning woman, great if you're ego needs a boost and you have no empathy and you're basically a heartless dick.

The no strings attached thing can work, of course, but the woman has to be totally and utterly true to herself whether she is the type to develop feelings or not. Oxytocin is a bitch

Openup41 Tue 11-Oct-16 22:16:54

Low self esteem.

As a teen I was bullied mercilessly by male and female peers. I was told by male peers I was ugly, would never have a boyfriend and that no one would ever kiss me. I truly believe a part of me died at school.

After leaving school I was grateful that any man even looked my way. I tolerated crap as I felt I deserved it. I had no confidence and no self love. I hated myself. Being wanted sexually gave me some kind of temporary boost.

25 years later I am still convincing myself I am not that ugly little girl despite knowing I am not ugly and despite having a doting husband.

RolfsBabyGrand Tue 11-Oct-16 22:47:58

Been there.

I thought I was ugly, boring and unlikely to find anyone. I was thrilled when a man actually wanted me. My default response to being asked out was always "no" cos I thought I was the butt of a joke. My ex was relentless in asking me on date.

Then once in the relationship I settled for pretty crap situation cos it was better than nothing. This went on for ten years until he cheated one time too many and I asked him to leave.

My own parents had a loveless marriage where they effectively lived separate lives under one roof. I think this added to my "it'll do" attitude to my relationship. Similarly my parents have always been scant with praise hence low self esteem.

I feel sad at the prospect of being alone but I won't make the mistake of settling for anyone. I realise now how I wasted a decade on someone unworthy.

I hope your friend realises she deserves better. (I also agree the never-married no-kids preference should maybe be relaxed now!)

Zaphodsotherhead Wed 12-Oct-16 11:30:36

Sometimes the men don't start out being crap though. My bloke started out being attentive and touchy-feely. A few months in the attentiveness waned, then the touching went out of the window, with the positivity and the adventurousness.

It was like, as soon as he had a 'girlfriend' he no longer had to bother, but it all happened so slowly and gradually (the 'boiling alive' metaphor applies here) that one day I woke up and realised that he's just a negative, boring old man. Okay, he's still kind and well meaning, but I'm further into a relationship than I'd want to be if he'd been like this at the beginning. Plus, I was in a very bad place when we got together, it was the kindness and loyalty that I saw, so even if he'd displayed some of the less positive facets, I probably wouldn't have noticed.

OrphidsintheSnow Wed 12-Oct-16 13:41:10

Lots of things, as so many of the posts have illustrated ...

Need for sex.
Oxytocin <sigh>!
Need to prove one's attractiveness.
Low expectations.
Being a "giving" kind of person, without practising discernment ...
An independent or unconventional spirit (a boring man would not interest you and perhaps you are also overlooked generally by men who could be your equal).
Vulnerability e.g. poverty, ill health, no family, single parent, etc)
Self-delusion e.g. believing you should be in a couple (even if you're not really the type - personally I don't believe everyone is).
And finally,
Not knowing what love is for you, and what this would look like.

Offred Wed 12-Oct-16 14:33:11

Hmm.... everyone is focussing on the one who is 'putting up with cuz' here. TBH the problematic person is the person being a shit.

I firmly believe that anyone can be a victim of an abusive partner and that once in a relationship with an abusive partner it is hard to get out. Abusive partners are the reason people stay in abusive relationships, full stop, because no matter who you were when you went in the abuse erodes your self esteem and makes you frightened of the world.

maggiethemagpie Wed 12-Oct-16 16:03:13

I don't agree with that Offred.

Not everyone falls for an abusive partner.

Not everyone gets into that kind of relationship.

Many people leave early on, when the red flags start to show.

I'm not disputing that abuse is always the abusers fault.

But to say that anyone can be a victim of this kind of relationship is just not true IMHO. Maybe early on, before the red flags show, most people will be fooled. But how do you explain that many, many women DON'T stay around to be abused further when the abuser begins to show their true colours.

loobyloo1234 Wed 12-Oct-16 16:50:45

Self worth ... been there. She'll hopefully realise her worth at some point though. Be a good friend to her in the meantime smile

Offred Wed 12-Oct-16 17:11:05

That's something that is often said but is it actually a thing that actually happens very often. I suspect it is an extreme minority of people who have never been in an abusive relationship, have encountered an abuser and also cut people off as soon as they see signs. Some people have learned through experience I think and implemented strong boundaries based on that experience but then they have been in an abusive relationship.

I absolutely disagree that women who stay are all needy, desperate, lonely, have no/poor boundaries etc at the start. Abusive relationships make the victim that way, they may have been vulnerable because they were that way to start but many many women start off strong, independent, with good self worth and boundaries and are brought down by the abuser.

Offred Wed 12-Oct-16 17:13:55

And in fact it sounds very much like what has happened to this previously independent woman.

She previously enforced the same boundaries in other relationships that she is neglecting now and friends are commenting she is not herself.

If I were the op I would believe that what has changed is not that her friend has become weak because she is turning forty but that she is in a relationship with an abuser who I bringing her down.

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