One of the most common problems I see among single people is attraction to the wrong type. It doesn’t matter if you are a man attracted to “needy divas” or a woman attracted to “bad boys.” The result is the same; someone is going to get used, hurt and rejected and that someone is YOU. I meet these people weekly because they write to me. In the box where it says “fill in your main concern” they write “attracted to wrong types.” They are very aware of the problem and have little difficulty telling me about the list of “misfits.” The conversation changes when I ask, “What’s in it for you?” This is where they draw a blank, and where the work is going to begin. None of us wants to admit we are actually choosing people who will use or hurt us. None of us wants to admit we could break the cycle and set our bar higher, dating only those who treat us with respect, honesty, and dignity. It’s painful to think that we may be sabotaging ourselves on purpose because we don’t believe we deserve someone honorable.
Dating a “type” of person has a lot to do with our need to control. We feel that we understand a certain type of person, and we are familiar with their quirks or sickness. It stems from our family of origin or what we saw happen in our family of origin. We decide it is better to have something familiar than something totally new and unexpected. How could we possibly control someone who treated us with love and warmth if we grew up in abuse? In fact, many people who grow up in abuse will be attracted to abusers. They understand the cues surrounding when the abuse will happen and, because they grew up with it, it is familiar to them. Although it is unacceptable behavior to friends and colleagues (they esteem you higher than you do yourself), to you it is the norm.
If you find yourself dating or attracting the same type of person who doesn’t have your best interests at heart, it may be wise to ask yourself a few questions. These are painful questions, but they aren’t meant to be critical. They are meant to help encourage you to understand why you would settle for someone whose intention is to hurt or use you, rather than love and care for you.
1. What are you afraid of? Why do you settle for this type time after time?
2. What is your first memory of your father and mother? Write down every image that comes into your mind.
3. What did your dad say about women/men?
4. What did your mom tell you was a woman’s/man’s job?
5. What did your parents expect out of life?
6. What do you want to do with your life?
7. How are you benefitting from dating this type? I know this is tough, but we all choose behaviors we benefit from even when they are twisted.
8. Who loves you, and why do they love you? Write down five reasons others love you.
9. Do you look the way you have to look to attract the type of person you want to attract? If not, what would you have to do to change that? Is it worth doing? If not, why?
10. When people don’t like your girlfriend/boyfriend what is the reason they give? This can give you great insights into what behavior was accepted in your family of origin and why you accept it today. For example, if your friends say ALL of your boyfriends/girlfriends are narcissistic, that usually means someone you grew up with was too. You learned to tolerate or blend in so that person could have the total stage. Narcissistic people are very selfish; they don’t care about the person they are with or anyone else. It is all about them and their needs. On some level you may know this, but they are familiar to you just the same. You feel some control knowing and dating this type even if they can never love you the way you need to be loved.
We all have one or two bad dates. When that one or two turns into all of them or patterns of types, then it is time to sit down with yourself and do your work. Dating more until you answer these questions will most likely prove futile. When you are on a roll, the ball rolls down hill not up. –Mary Jo Rapini
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