Dear Carolyn: I tend to get treated badly by some pretty serious jerks. Often, it’s my fault – there are obvious signs of jerkiness and I proceed without caution. Other times it’s out of thin air. Most recently it’s a combination.

While I’m not sad at the loss of this person (we weren’t serious), I just can’t shake the feeling there must be something terribly wrong with me that every person I get involved with sees fit to treat me like the human equivalent of dog doo on their shoe. I mean, I’m the common factor here, right? How can it not be about me and my quality as a person?

– Human Dog Doo

A: Easily. You’ve made a false connection: that treatment reflects the quality of the recipient. It reflects the quality of the giver. That men mistreated you speaks ill of each man who did so.

You are the common denominator, and you do have a role in your own treatment: You’re the one choosing these men.

The “something terribly wrong” is that you’re missing or ignoring warning signs, and are possibly in a bad enough place emotionally for mistreatment to be your comfort zone.

Exhibit A: You’re seeing your role as “person worthy of shoe-doo treatment,” when there is no such role. No one deserves mistreatment.

You’re not bad, your taste is. Or, more constructively, your screening process is – and that can trace back to points in your history that shaped your emotional needs and expectations.

Whether you do it in counseling (recommended, if you can swing it) or on your own, please tease out what you’ve found attractive in all of these men, and let that lead you to the why.

No ‘I told you so’ needed

Dear Carolyn: What do you say to somebody who has several “I will never ______” things, is openly snarky and condescending to those who do those things … and then later does those same things? Then gets angry when questioned about the change of heart, and says they never thought that, or if they did they weren’t THAT mean about it? And is your parent?

I know it will never change. Is there any way other than, “Yeah, OK, whatever,” to respond to either end of the cycle?

– Oh You Won’t, Will You?

A: You can relish each comeuppance, inside.

You can also greet the cycle’s beginning with a mild, “Perhaps you shouldn’t box yourself in,” and end it end with, “______.” You’ll both know what goes there, so no need to keep score out loud.

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at