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I had been like that for months, emotionally battered after my last relationship and closed off to connection.

Looking back one year later, my brain has blotted out much of the months I spent with my ex.

I was sitting at the prettiest date restaurant, out with a guy I’d met several days before at a mixer.He was sweet and upbeat, talkative and seemingly driven.I nodded along to his stories as I took bites of my pasta, methodically peppering him with questions while revealing very little about myself.Although I was technically there, I couldn’t force myself to actually show up for that date.If you’ve ever dated a manipulator, you know what it’s like after you finally pull the plug.

You hemorrhage emotionally, both from the wounds of a breakup and the wounds he created during your time together. My ex would approach me whenever he saw me around—in a coffee shop, in a parking lot. He’d ask how I was, tell me “a lot had changed for him,” or that I met him “at a strange time in his life.” He would ask me to meet him again sometime, start over with purpose. But after months of false promises, I knew not to go down that road with my ex.It’s easy to get sucked in by articulate charmers, especially if you have somewhat of a “fix it” or savior complex; Even after the breakup, you want to see true change in the person. When I’d kindly but firmly decline his invitation for dinner or coffee, as I always did, he’d find ways to press buttons that made me hurt all over again.One moment, it was “you were the best girlfriend I’ve ever been with,” and the next “we were never really together.” I’d smile, tell him I wished him well, and bite back the floodgates.I always walked away feeling the weight of all the raw edges inside my body; wounds he’d cut open months before, aching and not yet healed.I let the pain sit inside me for a night, and then I’d try to block out all feeling the next morning.After mindlessly throwing myself back into the dating pool in the immediate aftermath of the breakup, I decided to stop after that date in late July 2015.