In matters of the heart, most people aren’t as closely in touch with their deepest feelings, needs, and desires. If we’re honest, it sometimes feels like we more bump around like a foosball on a game table then take thoughtful, calculated chess moves in our love lives. Sure, we can angle for the school or job we want – but most of us are far less strategic about our love lives. As we get older, this leads to both despair when we’re alone, but also frequently to being coupled with people we have no business being in relationships with.
For example, we’re all familiar with the dating meme of the woman who can never seem to shake her magnetic attraction to “bad boys”. While she may think that she’s just running a string of bad luck, in reality there’s nothing random about it. She may like the looks and style of a “player”, but any serious thought would clearly tell her that he wouldn’t be an appropriate partner. At a subconscious level, it may make her feel good about herself that she, too, can attract this superficially desirable man. But, in the end, should she really be surprised when he continues his boorish behavior with her and she ends up hurt and disappointed? This is especially useful for men and women in their 30’s to really process.
Like too much chocolate, a bad boy or girl may seem great, but is not really good for us. Why? What is attractive on first glance frequently is not what will sustain a healthy relationship in the long run. Sure, the best relationships have that incendiary chemistry that has sparks flying from day one. Equally as important though, are the underlying characteristics that complement physical attraction and that are necessary to a happy long term relationship like character, values, compatibility etc. Of course, it’s much harder to assess these deeper attributes at first glance, but that’s why it’s good to pace ourselves and approach relationships with both our heart and our head!
For people who often find themselves in unhealthy relationships, there are frequently deeper internal psychological battles being fought. When we insist on getting into relationships with people who are unhealthy for us, it reinforces an underlying message that we do not deserve a healthy, loving relationship. This creates a spiral of self-destructive and self-fulfilling prophesies that keeps us alone or unhappy. When I see this play out with singles I remind them that this is their inner saboteur in full bloom. It’s natural – everyone has this to one degree or another in various aspects of their lives, but it prevents us from doing and being our best and should be addressed. In relationships, it keeps us from experiencing the love we deserve. The good news is that there’s a fix!
We cannot move forward and attract an amazing mate if we cave into our inner saboteur’s demands. We say we want a loving, healthy relationship but end up behaving in ways that tell the universe the opposite. The overarching message here is that finding healthy love doesn’t happen without work.