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Does your George Clooney have feet of clay?

Top tips for realising you’re compromising on the wrong man – and why we lie to ourselves

Why do women put up with less than they deserve? And why do we lie to ourselves when we know he is less than we want…or need?

Let me tell you about Carrie, a professional who earned enough to have her own house at age 22. At the age of 27, Carrie watched her friends get married, set up homes, start to think about kids. They had their big day in huge dresses (it was the 1980’s), filled their shoulder pads with self-righteous married-ness and told Carrie ‘Don’t worry. You will find someone.’ But Carrie did worry. Thirty was looming and she was a spinster. So what did Carrie do?

She found an apparently affable car mechanic – good looking, well-presented on her arm (when he bothered to get out of his oily rags before eating dinner), reasonably articulate (when he could be bothered to talk to her friends) and hard-working (on what he liked doing – any chores were deemed to be women’s work). But when concerned friends and family looked less than impressed, Carrie created a perfect smokescreen of reason – his refusal to spend any money on her was excused as him being at the start of his career (reality – he was spending it all on two rally cars and had no intention of being anything but a mechanic’s assistant); his quietness was excused as shyness (reality – he was vile about her friends and persistently tried to isolate her); his avoidance of family events was put down to being hard-working in the workshop (reality – he was out in his rally cars and would come home and throw all his dirty rags on the bedroom floor). Carrie also hid the fact that she paid all the bills, paid for the wedding, paid the mortgage and paid for all the holidays. When their daughter was born, Carrie paid for all the clothes, managed the education, reared her baby to be a successful media-professional and did that against a background of sneering abuse and ridicule from the charming mechanic – when he deigned to be around the house to raid the fridge for supplies before he flitted again.

Today, Carrie is recently divorced, coming out of a cocoon of low self-esteem, finding her feet and realising her worth. It took 26 years.

So why did Carrie do it?

She will tell you that back then, the thought of being alone – the dread of being a spinster among the marrieds – was enough to start the process of self-brainwashing. It was easier to convince herself of the excuses, to tell herself that he would mature and improve, that she could change him, that he really was not as bad as other women’s men. She ignored the lies, the meanness, the nasty comments and growing attempts at control, because to face them meant giving up on her dream – having a marriage and a child. She will tell you now that her gut-feel was screaming at her to run. She ignored her inner voice and chose apparent safety.

The author has a similar tale of ignoring worrying evidence and giving the benefit of the doubt to a man who turned out to be part of a sect, with a prison history and a tendency to live off women. I was lucky – the Elders did not approve of my chapel upbringing!

Another friend was reticent to hand over her card to a man she had dated for months and who made her feel alive. A week of silence later she found her account had been raided of £6,000.

Another Sassista waited four years for a man she met on a dating site to leave his lover and give her the wedding he promised her. He never did – and had never intended to and had lived a double life under the comfort blanket of her excuses and rationalisation.

Now it is never easy to face up to the hard facts – that he is not right for you, that you are not right for him and he is bad, bad news. Accepting this means accepting your own lies and facing a gap in your life. But learn from Carrie and think about the following. If you are experiencing these then take a long hard look at your relationship.

  • Does he find reason to stay with his current lover and tell you it is not yet time to leave?

  • Does he always have a ready excuse when you ask for something?

  • Do you have to do all the organising?

  • Does he avoid or criticise your friends? Is his behaviour significantly different in front of them?

  • Do you always pay? Or does he ask you for money?

  • Are your friends and family concerned?

  • Are your core beliefs and, more importantly, your values different?

  • Does he dismiss your interests as boring or silly?

  • Does he makes jokes about you which present as funny but have a spiteful undertone?

  • Are you fitting into his life while he avoids fitting into yours?

If you are saying yes to even three of these question, then time to think. Are you lying to yourself and making excuses because you fear being alone? Does the thought of a future void of relationships seem worse than the ongoing denial of reality?

If so, take a tip from Carrie – listen to the gut, talk to a friend, have the faith to walk away….because life without the self-destructive cover-up is a joy. Don’t think he will change for the better. Why would he? Your self-deception is helping him to stay just the way he is.

Somewhere out there is a George Clooney who will respect and love you. Don’t let a deceptive cuckoo keep him away!


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