“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we're all in this together."
~ Brené Brown
1. You continue to stick to the same dating pool. Consider where/how you are meeting potential partners. Are you going to the same bar? Is the same friend setting you up? Are you relying on specific filters for your online dating profile? Are you refusing/not wanting to explore new dating technology?
2. You’re afraid of being alone, or “starting over,” or are more comfortable being in a relationship. I find that people who are worried about being alone forever, starting over, or struggle with being “okay” to be single are more likely to settle for someone who is not right for them because it appears to be more desirable than the alternative of being alone.
3. You don’t value yourself and what you have to offer. Are you aware of why you’re special and what makes you a desirable person and partner? How would you describe your self-esteem and sense of self-worth? If you’re unable to see your positive qualities and/or believe you are worthy, how do you expect someone else will?
4. You don’t know what you do/don’t want in a partner or you don’t clarify what you want before dating someone.If you aren’t clear on what you are/aren’t looking for (with both yourself and a potential partner), how will you know once you’ve found the right person? Or, if you do know what you’re looking for but don’t express it, you’re more likely to end up with someone who isn’t on the same page as you on a variety of factors (i.e. casual versus serious dating).
5. You accept poor behaviour/treatment from the get-go in hopes that things may change. Do you find that you continue to invest in the relationship, hoping that it will work out- but it doesn’t? Past behaviour is an excellent indicator of future behaviour. If he’s a jerk at the beginning, he’s likely to continue to be one as your relationship progresses. Moreover, he is likely to continue to treat you poorly if you continue to accept it.
6. You have a bad attitude. Your perception when it comes to dating/men will affect your experience, reactions, and interpretations. If you have a bad attitude, you’re more likely to attract negative people, or overlook potential good mates!
7. You have a thing for “bad boys” when really you want a “good boy.” Research shows that a lot of women get a lot of thrill from having fun with the “bad boy” but ultimately want to settle down with the “good boy.” If you’re wanting to settle down but continue to go for the bad boy, you’re likely going to be disappointed.
Kasey Lafferty, MSc, RP, RMFT - www.kltherapy.com
Like so many things in life, our brains can be used for good or evil. I use the term "evil" to represent the damage we do to ourselves when we reenact painful experiences from the past or continue to perpetuate negative beliefs. As it pertains to romantic relationships, when we perform such acts, we repeatedly attract the wrong type of partner.
As we grow, our parents relationships and the relationships of those close to us become our blueprint for understanding what we 'should' or 'shouldn't' look for in a life mate.
If we observed dangerous or dysfunctional partnerships, the odds are high that we will unknowingly recreate those same dynamics time and time again. The (unconscious) thought being, if those dynamics caused us stress or pain, we can 'undo' the psychological damage they caused by putting ourselves in the same scenario BUT changing the outcome. It's a logical but ultimately flawed philosophy because we eventually learn that the same situations typically yield the same (detrimental) results.
Similarly, the beliefs we have (created from past interactions and observations) dictate who we are attracted to and who we draw in. If, for example, we believe that we are worthy, we drawn in a good quality person. Conversely, if we believe that we are unworthy, we date those that reinforce that negative belief.
Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT – www.lifeissuespsychotherapy.com
There are many reasons why women repeatedly attract the wrong men, but I believe one of the biggest is low self-esteem and seeking validation from a man.
I know this because it is a pattern that I was stuck in for a long time.
There are different factors that go into love versus attraction.
We have needs such as certainty, predictability, safety and reliability that can come from a loving long-term relationship. However, when we feel that spark and attraction, it comes from conflicting desires such as adventure, novelty, mystery, risk, danger, and the unexpected.
This is why women are often attracted to men who are considered “bad boys”. We want the unknown, the mystery, the power, the novelty and we are drawn to it. But then we feel surprised and hurt when this person doesn’t make the best committed partner.
The most challenging part is that if we have low self-esteem we’ll seek validation from a man.
Even if the man does give us validation, it will never be enough. So women get more clingy and needy in a relationship, and a man in response begins to pull away. Some women grow up without the approval of an important male figure and that can make you especially susceptible to falling for guys who withhold approval. You’ll repeat the pattern of trying to win their love and failing over and over again. See this pattern for what it is, and get help if you need to in order to move on.
Alexis Meads, MA - www.alexismeads.com
You may wonder how you consistently find yourself with men who turn out to be wrong for you. “I must be a wrong-man magnet,” you think. “What’s wrong with me?” you ask your friends. The answer is that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with you, but there may be something off about what you seek in a man and the vibes you put out to attract one.
Here’s are some ideas about what might be happening:
#1 You choose men who feel familiar to you
We generally follow patterns from childhood and may unconsciously seek out partners who feel familiar to us. We are not aware that we’re doing this, but we fall into relationships before we can assess what’s going on with us. If your parents, especially your Dad, was aloof, a womanizer, a drinker, or a rage-aholic, this will be a familiar type for you and you may find men who create similar feelings in you. You don’t set out for this to happen, but this is what attracts you because it somehow feels right.
#2 You choose men solely because you’re physically attracted to them
Physical attraction is important in a relationship, but there’s more to a healthy partnership than sexual desire. Sexual attraction is exceedingly powerful and may color how we view someone. It may make us blind to their faults. This is not to say that every man you’re physically attracted to will be the wrong guy for you. But if you just depend on attraction and avoid consciously seeking other positive qualities in someone, you may end up with a someone who can’t meet your emotional needs.
#3 We hang out with a crowd that isn’t good for us
We all see ourselves in a certain way and gravitate toward certain kinds of people. Maybe your friends do little but hit the bars or stay home smoking pot and watching movies on TV. After all, your friends have friends and that can be the enter universe of who you end up dating. If this is the case, it’s no surprise that you would end up finding men who have little to offer you. I’ve heard clients say things like, “Well, drinkers or potheads are the only guys I can find. There just aren’t any men who are different.” They say this because this is the group they are a part of, a narrow sliver of potential mates.
#4 You’re not putting forward positive, proud vibes
If you don’t think you’re worth much, you may not put a great deal of effort into grooming and presenting yourself in a positive, proud manner. Maybe you’re so sure that you won’t ever meet Mr. Wonderful, that you don’t put energy into being Ms. Wonderful. Alternately, you may feel as if a man should take you just as you are and insist on being this “real you” wherever you go. This includes being rude, standoffish or careless about your grooming. What you present is often what you attract.
#5 You may overlook the really nice guys
Many women (and men) want someone flashy, exciting or who will be arm candy. Or they want someone who can wine and dine them and they look down on men who can’t. That means missing out on the many wonderful potential partners who are average looking, or even quiet and shy. These men are often the ones who are hidden gems and who’ll make wonderful life partners. They may not be the ones who give you the big come on, but may, instead, take a while to warm up to along and some patience on your part, in order to show their wonderful true colors.
Don’t give up hope. You can learn to attract the “right” men. This may mean changing yourself, your typical venue for meeting men, or your expectations about them.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
It’s frustrating and heartbreaking to find yourself in a pattern of unsatisfying or unhealthy relationships. You may find yourself hurt, confused, angry, and wondering why you keep repeating the same patterns in your relationships. While everyone is different, I find these four reasons often get to some of the core issues:
1. You don’t value yourself. When you don't value yourself or feel uneasy being single, you may seek a partner out of neediness rather than out of wholeness. In this situation you’re more likely to ignore early warning signs and not trust your own intuition. You may not see your partner for who he truly is, but rather as you want him to be. Neediness means you’re more likely to “settle” or compromise on what really matters to you. The romantic notion of finding a partner to “complete you” is actually not very healthy. Healthy relationships are the joining of two complete individuals.
2. You don’t really know what a healthy relationship is. If you grew up in a dysfunctional family and didn’t have strong role models for a healthy marriage, you may not know what constitutes a healthy relationship. The movies, TV, and our political leaders don’t offer much guidance either. It may not be that hard to spot the most abusive dynamics, but the reality of what a “good” relationship looks like for the average person can be very hard to determine.
3. You’re trying to unconsciously heal childhood issues. It’s very common to unknowingly attach to someone in an effort to heal early trauma. If you grew up in a chaotic, neglectful, or abusive family, you will likely repeat these patterns because they’re familiar – even if you know they’re unhealthy.
4. You’ve been hurt in previous relationships. Women often bring their past hurts into their new relationships. If your ex cheated, didn’t communicate, or was emotionally withholding, you will come out of that experience hurt, of course. These experiences impact your ability to trust, be vulnerable, and commit. So, if you haven’t completed healed, you’re likely to bring anger, insecurity, or fear into your subsequent relationships.
Sharon Martin, LCSW – www.sharonmartincounseling.com
This generally is due to the lack of personal boundaries and a need to be the “perfect woman” for “him”.
If you don’t’ know who you are and show who you are, the other person ends up falling for someone who does not exist and you feel abandoned. If you become serious then you feel as though they don’t care enough to think of you. They may feel as if they don’t know you anymore. Both would be correct since you were not you in the beginning. If you become someone else every time you date you will (A) put off the good guys since they want a participant not a slave or (B) attract the users who want someone that allows them to do whatever they want.
No relationship will be all give or all take. If it is, you know it is wrong.
Unless you treat each other as you wish to be treated, it will not work. That means you may not stand up for you but you would for them, so do they for you? You apologize when you hurt their feelings, do they? You think of them when making plans or shopping so you ask for their input, do they think of you? You have beliefs on friends, family, dating, futures, do they share or want you to change?
We all change some when we find someone special, but it’s minor modifications, not a complete overhaul. If you are not sure when the overhaul is happening, ask someone (not your date or his friend) if you are changing who you are. See what they say. If they love you they will not be telling you how to live your life but allow you to make that choice, but more information means better choices so resources are awesome!
Another factor that can happens when someone has extended trauma as a child.
This can create a baseline of drama. This means you are familiar with things being “crazy” and unstable. You are not familiar with calm, safe, shared relationships. So then if you are around a guy that cares and thinks of you, then you don’t know how to take this. Then your anxiety goes through the roof and you leave believing this bad feeling indicates no “spark”. When really you are not familiar with calm. You feel close just after arguing but worried if you are not fighting.
Neither of these are permanent situations. If you want a change, then change can happen.
Katherine Woodworth, LPC, CRC - www.fairwaycounseling.com
Before you start dating, you should make sure you are in a good place mentally.
It is important to know that you are fine without a man, and you don't need a man. It is one thing to want a relationship and someone to share your life with; and another to feel like you need one.
If you feel like you can't be alone and that you need a partner to function or feel complete; chances are you may attract the wrong men.
Perhaps they don't want to commit or you find you are overlooking things that you don't want in a partner.
If you feel a need to be in a relationship; you may find yourself settling for someone that might not have the same expectations as you or someone you don't really connect with.
It would be best to become independent, and develop your own life and goals without a partner.
Once you feel more confident being single, it will be easier to choose the right man, someone who has the same expectations as you do. If you are not being treated in a way that you want to be treated , then this is not a person you should be with.
The other thing to think about is how ready you are for a commitment.
If you keep attracting men who don't want a commitment, then you might want to ask yourself if you are doing this on purpose because you might not be ready either.
Once you get to a place where you feel good about yourself and happy living your life without a partner; I would assume you would then be ready to date and choose the right person for you.
Trisha Swinton, LPC, LMFT – www.trishaswintoncounseling.com
With the holiday season behind us, and the new year just beginning, many people are reflecting back on their lives. This is a particularly hard time of the year because there is so much going on, and so much pressure to make changes in one’s life. There is the motivation to surpass other’s and your own expectations.
The wondering, if they are where they are supposed to be in life… the dreaded timeline. This is particularly true for romantic relationships. During this season, there are wedding proposals being made, and the longing by those who are the bystanders. Questions being asked and answers trying to be sought out to.
Let’s examine one common question that many women ask… Why am I attracting the wrong man?
When analyzing this question, take notice, there is something to be said about this question. It is not about who you are attracting, but rather who you are accepting. Have you heard of the Law of Attraction? If not, it is the notion that we are responsible for bringing both positive and negative forces in our lives.
It is where you focus that predicts what will happen in the future.
For example, if you believe that you are attracting the wrong men, then that is what your mind-frame becomes, and you look at the negative. You accept the wrong men in your life. We attract both positive and negative men in our lives, it is just which direction will you unconsciously fall?
When doing any analyzing, it always comes back to your self worth and esteem. So, the answer to the question lies within yourself.
What are you really looking for…
Robin Ennis, LMSW, CPC – www.prominentpathways.org
Women repeatedly attract the wrong men because they gravitate to personality traits and experiences that mimic childhood. This is why relationship are so painful.
For instance, if you grew up with an alcoholic parent chances are you will attract people that need to be taken care of in some way. Care-taking becomes a way for you to get love but in the process you learn to neglect yourself. If you grew up with emotionally unavailable types who don’t do their feelings, you will seek them out not because they are bad for you, but because these people feel like home.
The irony is that what is familiar to you is often your deepest wound.
Dysfunctional families breed dysfunctional relationships because that’s all you know. You may be determined to recreate a better life by doing the exact opposite behavior. Unfortunately, the opposite though different - is just as dysfunctional.
For example, if you grew up with a raging family member, you may decide to stuff your own anger in reaction to not wanting to be like “them”. Stuffing anger creates more problems like stress, dishonesty in relationships, depression and anxiety.
You cannot learn what you weren’t taught.
If you didn't grow up seeing healthy communication then resolving differences and mutual respect is hard to replicate. So you end up attracting the wrong men because they symbolize a past relationship pattern that needs to be healed.
What you resist, persists which means that relationship patterns repeat themselves until you learn the lesson.
Michelle Farris, LMFT – www.counselingrecovery.com
Starting to feel like a ‘jerk magnet’?
Before you give up it is time to take a step back and explore the situation. So why do we attract the wrong men? Some of the issues stem from socialization, as it is easy to get caught up in Hollywood’s “Cinderella Myth,” that Mr. Right will magically find us and fulfill our every need. Because of this we wait, create expectations and act on or react to these often unreasonable expectations.
Oftentimes, we come to realize that we are not choosing our mate, but waiting for them to choose us. So instead of being proactive and going after relationships we desire, we settle for the relationships that simply come our way. In our desire to experience Mr. Right, we allow Mr. Wrong to get a little too close until we lose our sense of self and direction then end up feel trapped and confused by how we landed in the situation to begin with. At this point, it is easy to get our true feelings confused with reactive feelings that are often tied to damaged self-worth and confidence.
The choice of your mate is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life.
The person you wish to spend your time with, create a life with and possibly raise a family with. Why then are we not treating it as such, being proactive and approaching it the same way we would a business endeavor?
With business we recognize our power and ability to choose what we want, where we want to be and how we want to be treated, because we recognize it is ‘business’, so it has some emotional distance and does not feel as personal or as much like the sting of rejection we feel so easily in personal relationships. It is this fear of rejection that often keeps us trapped in this cycle.
Recognizing and understanding patterns is an important part of breaking free.
1. What are your expectations in relationships?
2. How do you handle rejection?
3. Do you let the fear of rejection prevent you from going after relationships?
4. Do you fall into relationships because it is easier than being alone?
Stacey Shumway, M.Ed., CCMHC, BCC - www.2xlcoach.com
In talking with women who declare that they can't find a "decent guy," it seems that sometimes, it's not really about the guy. We all bring something to the party, and that means that sometimes we don't really know what we want so we look for who we think we want.
How is this my fault, you ask?
It's not a matter of being at fault, it's about lacking a deep sense of self-awareness so that you truly understand what you value to better gauge who can compliment you. It's hard to fully understand another person in a relationship when you don't understand your own motivations and drives.
We unconsciously bring baggage to every relationship; it's not something to dispute, it's how the psyche works. If you keep experiencing the same result with partners, or you find yourself complaining about the same thing in different people, it might be time to look inside yourself first. The other part of a lack of self-awareness worth noting is our natural drive to connect or be social creatures.
I've witnessed women stay in really bad relationships because they were afraid to be alone, and they often don't understand why they're afraid to be alone.
The answer lies in this deeper understanding or exploration of our social-emotional history. Using this example, a woman who was aware of her why might have spent less time in bad relationships, permitting more openness to partners who are a better match.
Sandra Labo, MA, LPC - www.sandilabo.com
From a psychological perspective, there may be a philosophy that suggests we are attracted to those that we have unresolved "issues" with that we have not fully faced. The relationship serves as an opportunity to overcome these issues by gaining awareness as to why we may be attracted back to a particular kind of man.
For example, if you had a father that was not present or perhaps traveled and was not consistent in your upbringing, you may find that when you seek out relationship, you are attracted to a man that is not present and travels frequently, making himself unavailable to you.
The exploration may be the feelings associated to how you experienced your father traveling or being unavailable, which may bring up anger, fear or sadness within your adult relationships.
Therefore, it is really not a matter of why you are attracting them, it is more about why you are attracted back.
Lisa Bahar, MA, LMFT - www.lcbahar.wix.com
I frequently get asked this question in my office, “Why do I keep attracting the wrong men?”
My answer isn’t what people usually expect.
I actually don’t believe there are those of us that seem to attract the wrong men and those of us who don’t. I believe there are some of us whom engage in, tolerate or continue relationships with the wrong men.
We can each attract all types of men: men whom are both healthy and unhealthy.
However, we can have patterns where we hold onto those relationships that aren’t healthy for us. Possibly with the belief and feelings that our needs will someday be met by them, someday they will commit or that they will change. We usually do this due to our own fears about ourselves, beliefs about what we can have/deserve, fearing the future, fearing being alone, and lacking emotional boundaries and self-care. We can often attach ourselves to the “idea and potential” of someone versus the “reality” of being with them.
If we continue to find our relationships unsatisfying or painful, we may conclude we keep attracting the wrong people, but I truly believe it’s what we do when we recognize someone is wrong for us that is a far more accurate and powerful observation.
Christy Schneider, MA LPC - www.livewelllovewelltherapy.com
Many women often become increasingly frustrated time after time as they seem to repeat the same attraction habits. Each time they look at it as a new opportunity to attract the right man, and hence find themselves attracting the same wrong guy again. Why does this happen? That is the magic question so many women ask themselves time and time again
First if we are continually attracting the “wrong guy” what is the common denominator?
Us, we are the same person going into each meeting and coming out frustrated every time. It is amazing that we expect different results and to meet different men when we are the same. We don’t do work on ourselves, become healthier if you will and the law of attraction continually comes back into play each time.
The law of attraction is real.
We attract those that are in the same healthy or unhealthy status in life. We do not work on ourselves emotionally, physically or mentally and therefore we continue to attract where we are in life and wonder why. The good news is that the law of attraction can work in a positive way as well so there is hope for the future.
We also tend to ignore red flags no matter how much they are glaring in our faces.
We get that inkling in our gut, that sick in the pit or just the little flash that something does not seem right in the situations and we ignore it. We will often say things like, “I am just being silly, I am sure he is a great guy.”
Our instincts are working to protect us from the wrong guy again but we tend to ignore them completely and plow ahead to then be frustrated when we get to the point of feeling like we attracted the wrong guy again.
In the next column, we can explore steps to take to correct our repeated actions so we can start attracting the right guy, avoiding the wrong guy and most importantly recognizing the difference right away.
Neesha Lenzini, MS - www.relationshipsinneed.com
Men often times are attracted to strong and confident women. It isn’t until after a woman becomes attached to a man that she may identify some red flags. The wrong man will show signs that he wants the power in the relationship.
A healthy relationship is built on shared decision-making and an unhealthy relationship occurs when one partner desires to seek the control.
As women, of course our personalities may change after spending time with the wrong partner. We may feel and appear, perhaps less confident and more concerned with the feelings of the man.
Does he have similar values and beliefs?
If not, it’s an easy sign that it may be best to move on. Women that may repeatedly attract the wrong men seem to not leave the wrong partner quicker.
There’s a saying about being the sum of the five people we spend the most time with.
We are shaped and highly influenced by who we choose to spend our lives with.
Women often struggle with leaving a relationship, even after detecting their partner is wrong for them. This is where women should put their focus and energy. Women often become overly concerned with hurting a man’s feelings that they lose sight of their own interests.
Women may tend to attract the wrong men because they are not checking in with their own values and non-negotiables. Once we strongly establish our values, our relationships can be used to measure up against our personal belief systems.
Brooke Campbell, MA, LCAT - www.creativekinections.com
Ditch people tend towards being either “others focused” or “me focused”. In many areas of our lives we successfully attain the balance we desire, represented by the road. It seems we land in the ditch most often when we can’t figure out how to balance what I want with what you want. If I want 2 kids and you want 1, agreeing to have 1.5 kids just isn’t an option. In circumstances like that, when we don’t know how to find a solution satisfactory to both, we frequently land in a ditch. Either I give up what I really want to please you; or, I insist on what I want, leaving you unhappy.
After I’ve described the ditches, see if you recognize which ditch you tend to prefer. A ditch is nothing more than an extreme. In that place, it feels like we don’t have a choice, at least not one we really like.
The “Others focused” ditch:
People from this ditch are genuinely caring, flexible, easy going, and tend to be followers (road behaviors). Those who prefer this ditch learned to try to please their parents by giving up their own preferences.
Common ditch behaviors: giving up what you want to make the other person happy, being passive, sometimes passive-aggressive, feeling obligated, resentful, withdrawing or shutting down, and feeling hurt. At the bottom of the ditch is a feeling of frustration or powerlessness because your needs aren’t getting met. Fear drives these ditch behaviors.
The “Me focused” ditch:
Typical road behaviors from this side include being decisive, knowing what you want, being goal oriented, and leading. In their family of origin, they learned to take care of themselves, perhaps because no one else was around or could.
In this ditch, you may see: demands, expectations, disappointments, verbal, emotional or physical aggression, manipulation, and anger. At the base of it all is also frustration and powerlessness because they can’t get others to do what they want. Fear drives these behaviors, too.
I used to think my others focused ditch was the more righteous place to be. Then I discovered that when I get too frustrated, I’d hop in my little ditch car, start that ditch engine and peel out of that ditch so fast that I couldn’t stay on the road. I landed in the opposite ditch! That sent my husband flying to the ditch I just vacated. I may not stay in the other ditch long, and rarely do the same kinds of things he did. That is why it took me so long to discover that we switch ditches. When engaging in those kinds of actions don’t work either, I’d go back to my preferred ditch and withdraw or shut down.
Example: I fix burritos for my husband thinking if I do that, he will be motivated to fix the drip in the faucet (trying to please him to get what I want). He said he just had Mexican food for lunch and isn’t in the mood for that again tonight (just thinking of his own needs). I’m disappointed, and frustrated, and am afraid I won’t have any leverage to get the sink fixed. I mention the leak again and he gets mad and accuses me of nagging him. “I’ll get to it!”, he declares (without giving me any specifics of when). So I don’t say anything about it for the next month (shut down) for fear he will yell at me again. I might knock some of his clothes on the floor to get even (passive-aggressive behavior).
A month goes by, he still hasn’t gotten to the drip, and I’ve lost patience. Nagging (me focused) hasn’t worked, neither has quietly waiting (others focused). I finally can’t take it anymore, and I yell (me focused) at him for never doing what he says he’s going to do, and he takes on a defeated attitude “Ok, then I’ll fix it tonight and miss basketball with the guys” (others focused). I’m left feeling like I lost even though he’s going to do what I ask because he’s not doing it willingly.
Has this ever happened in your life?
We always attract someone from the opposite ditch, no matter which ditch we prefer. We replicate the way our parents related to one another in key ways. When reactions are driven by subconscious feelings of frustration, anger, hurt, fear or powerlessness, we engage in ditch behaviors. At some level, we are all ditch people.
Prime example of government ditch behaviors: No airport security to practically having to strip to get to an airplane.
So, if you keep attracting the same kind of guy, your ditch behaviors are showing.
Charlene Benson, LPC, NCC - www.bensontherapist.com
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