Dear Dr. Wallace:

I have a history of dating jerks, lawbreakers and stupid guys with lots of flaws. All of my past relationships were with guys who were total losers. I’ve been treated very roughly by every single one of them. The best guy in this unsavory group only swore at me, calling me filthy names. It’s so strange how I now can clearly see how wrong they all were for me, but back when I started dating each of them, I was truly infatuated.

To get me out of this bad boy rut, my parents sent me to another town to live with my married older sister. I’m here now, and I actually like living in this town with my sister and her husband, as they both have made me feel at home.

And I’m going to church with my new family at their regular house of worship, which I feel comfortable at as well. Recently, my sister has been encouraging me to go out with a certain boy at church who asked my sister for my number.

He’s rather cute, so when he called for a date a month ago, I said yes. We have gone out about six times in the last 30 days, and I’ve a fairly nice time with him. This guy has been a true gentleman, something I am not used to.

The problem is that he doesn’t turn me on in a romantic way. I told this to my sister yesterday, and she got upset and said something that bothered me: “Why is it that only mean, unsavory guys turn you on?” Now I’m really in a bind.

If I stop seeing this guy I’m dating, my sister will really be upset with me, but to continue seeing him will just be a waste of my time and his.

I kind of want to give my sister a sassy reply, but I don’t want to cause friction with her and her husband. What should I do at this point?

— Sassy Little Sister, via email

Dear Sassy Little Sister: Stop dating this guy. It’s not fair to him to be going out with you when you admittedly have no real interest in dating him. But also stay away from the types you used to date in the past. Hopefully, you can casually date a few more good guys (ask your sister to keep an eye out for other potentially good matches in your community) and see how things go.

Over time, if you find yourself romantically drawn only to the loser types from your past, you could have a deep-seated self-esteem issue preventing you from feeling worthy of good guys, thus keeping you trapped in the cycle of abuse you left to escape.

Not dating at all for a while is certainly a better alternative then dating abusive losers. Keep going to church, and keep your chin up and your eyes open for a new guy. You may also want to consider seeing a counselor or health care professional you can speak openly to.

If you feel comfortable, open up to your older sister a little more, and seek to gain her counsel, advice and guidance as you go through this personal journey. I commend you for biting your tongue and not making a sassy reply to her original comment.

You are already moving in the right direction; seek help to continue to build upon this momentum.

— Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.