I ended a disastrous relationship six months ago after learning that my partner was a secret chronic weed smoker, porn addict, and habitually paid for sex. These behaviors were linked to a phase of mental illness. In his previous long-term relationship, he also did these things. After getting caught, he would fall into a depression and his ex would "help him heal." Rinse and repeat.
We had been in a long-distance relationship for two years prior to living together, and he had managed to conceal all of these elements of himself from me. It was about 10 months into living together that he started to act strangely. After another two months, I discovered that he was partaking in these habits. I split up with him right away and spent a good few months licking my wounds and really analyzing my propensity to get into relationships with men who turn out to be addicts and emotional abusers.
In retrospect, I could have asked him a lot more questions, so I feel like I'm to blame for getting myself into the situation. A couple of weeks ago I decided to sign up for Bumble to see who was out there in the dating world, and discovered that my ex has a profile in which he says he is a non-smoker looking for a relationship. I feel so sorry for any of the women that he meets on the site – I wish I could warn them. He was still regularly emailing me and begging for forgiveness at the time, despite my not wanting any contact. How do I feel OK about dating again knowing that the person behind the profile can be so unsuitable for monogamy and could be downright lying about themselves. How do I spot the secure and stable men? How do I stop feeling like I have a responsibility to warn any of his future girlfriends?
"How do I feel OK about dating again knowing that the person behind the profile ... could be downright lying about themselves."
This is a tough question, given your experience. I understand why you might walk into dates thinking, "What don't I know?" That's why you'll take your time with the people you like. You'll ask questions and meet their friends and family (assuming things progress). You'll get to know what they're like at home before you live with them.
For the record, I'm not saying you made any mistakes with your pace – you assumed the best of this ex and went with your gut. But next time you'll require more information. That's OK.
I do hope you're talking to some kind of professional as you process your pattern. Maybe it's time for therapy/counseling, even in a group.
Also, maybe app dating shouldn't be your primary method for meeting a partner right now. Set-ups are great because they require a real-life connection. Think about asking friends and acquaintances for help.
As for warning the future girlfriends, that's not your job. Dating profiles don't require endorsements and red flags, and I'm not sure they'd work anyway. Focus on taking care of yourself by blocking him when you see him.
Readers? How can this letter writer learn to trust again?