Three combining factors repeatedly make you attracted to the wrong partner. But why?
Attractive and good at her job as an intellectual property lawyer 27-year-old Lynn was miserable in her romantic life. She was disappointed that all the men she had been seriously involved with had turned out to be wasters. They let her down, didn't take the relationship seriously and made her mad about the fact that she always seemed to choose the wrong guys.
This time around she thought she had finally cracked it. Her 30-year-old partner Eli, a litigation attorney with whom she had lived with for three years, seemed to be more responsive and fitted in with her needs. Life was more settled, predictable and stable until Lynn discovered that Eli had been cheating on her.
Tensions were high as Lynn confronted him and received the shocking news that he had been having an affair for the past year! He complained that he was constricted, controlled and unable to be himself in the relationship, but was too scared to tell her. Needless to say Lynn felt that familiar cycle of betrayal, disappointment and rage that she had when her previous three boyfriends had carried on behind her back.
How did Lynn get attracted to nice guys who turned out to be cheaters?
The initial attraction she felt for her boyfriends was always magnetic and electrifying. It felt like a match made in heaven, thrilling her from head to toe, until the magic spell faded. And fade it inevitably did—every time, no matter how often Lynn tried to avoid making the same mistakes. What seemed like the genuine thing turned into another failed attempt to make and keep the kind of relationship she wanted.
So why was Lynn having such a run of bad luck?
Lynn got attracted to guys who on the surface seemed to have all the ingredients to fulfill her romantic dreams. Underneath in her unconscious world she was tuning into the possibility that she could mold and shape them into the exact image of the ideal man in her life. The men Lynn fell for were far from perfect, but held the promise that they would prove their love for her by morphing into whatever she dictated.
That made her feel powerful and in control. She would work at changing them to fit her needs, anticipating the thrill of taking charge of her own happiness by creating the flawless partner. That goal made her choose guys that were less than kind, attentive and stable. The less attentive and loyal the more she grasped at the opportunity to make them so and feel victorious in the process. Unfortunately her efforts to get her men to change according to her demands rarely succeeded and she would ultimately withdraw from the relationship, weary and defeated.
Lynn met tons of decent loyal and trustworthy men. She liked them but they didn't make her heart miss a beat or send her into the clouds with rapture. They didn't turn her on sexually nor did she yearn for affection or companionship with them. They were just nice to have around but nothing she would work to have or set her cap at.
And that's because they already possessed all the characteristics she wanted. They were boring and predictable. There was nothing for her to mold or change. Everything was in place and it didn't feel anywhere near as exciting as taking on the challenge of picking someone who was somewhat raw and fallible, and turning him into a paragon of a partner. There was no whip to crack and therefore no gauge by which to judge whether he was truly invested in her or not. There was no chance to feel powerful and in control because everything was so certain, you could set your clock by it.
Growing up, Lynn had seen her parents argue, separate and come back together several times. She never got the attention she needed or wanted from either of them who were wrapped up in their own high stakes drama. One minute they were off and the next they were on. When they were on, Lynn was relieved but she lived with the uncertainty of not knowing when the next blow out would come.
Would she and her mother manage to keep her father satisfied and emotionally available, or would he suddenly get tired of them and leave again? The uncertainty of not knowing if or when he would disappear kept them on their toes—like a slot machine that pays out but you never know when!
As an adult, Lynn was attracted to the same highs that uncertainty brings, with men who seemed to respond to her but could change in the blink of an eye. Any man that showed signs of stability and reliability just didn't grab her and reward her in quite the same exquisite way. These three vital factors—the thrill of power and control, the excitement of uncertainty and the familiarity with insecure connections—combined to make Lynn prone to pick the wrong partner over and over again.
Tune into the next article to find out how she can wean herself off the addiction and get to like the good guys.
Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educative purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may experience while reading the article or implementing the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.
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