Though I spoke of having a boyfriend a few articles back, I have since become single again. Hey, I’m not looking for sympathy. But I thought it might be interesting to explore the notion of attraction—specifically, if people have a “type” that they seem to attract. As we get older and gain more wisdom and perspective, we can look back on previous relationships and potentially find some recurring themes. So what’s mytype?
I’ve concluded that I attract damaged, emotionally unstable, narcissistic, toxic individuals. The drama! And I’m only half joking. To be clear, I don’t think all the people I’ve dated are horrible (ok, maybe one or two were). And those experiences ultimately taught me a lot about myself. Also, the common denominator is me, so I must have a way of inspiring people who have these traits to take them to new heights! I also made the conscious choice to stay with these people. At times much longer than I should have. And I’ve sometimes been hurt deeply in the aftermath (ok, maybe a little sympathy).
There’s a nugget of wisdom that goes something like: If you want a different result, do something different. My conclusion after my last two relationships is: If you want a different result from dating, then date someone different.
I, like many others, am drawn to people I believe need help or saving. People I think I can “change” or make “better.” You can argue that is a very self centered or presumptuous way to enter a relationship, but helping is innate to my nature. All the fields of work I’ve ventured into relate to helping others. It’s not surprising that I extend this notion to my dating life too. However, here’s what I’ve learned: This is a terribleidea! Why? Because it can make the other person feel less than, or that they are being talked down to. I think I’m pointing out things that will help make his life easier, he thinks he’s being criticized. Can anyone else identify?
I’ve prided myself on being the boyfriend that lifts people up and is your biggest cheerleader. The guy who goes out of his way to do little things to make your day better. I am far from perfect and have 1,001 flaws, but I do my best to be a decent human being and an amazing boyfriend. Yet, more times than not the men I date end up getting what they need out of me and moving on. No one wants to feel used, but is that their fault or mine for allowing it to happen?
As we move through relationships, we must respect our own boundaries. We get to decide what we will and won’t tolerate. Sure, relationships always take a bit of compromise, but if you’re not getting what you need, then you need to either speak up and ask for change or move on. Just make sure, as you pack up your toothbrush and your favorite shirts, that you also take the lessons with you. I have not always done this and thus continue to make the same mistakes and date the same “type.” I know a number of you reading this feel the same way.
Now that I am single again, I won’t be jumping into a new relationship anytime soon. I will need to ease into the next one. I want to make sure I don’t keep painting red flags green and allowing old patterns to repeat. It goes along with “Pay attention or pay with pain.” Feelings are not fact, but they sure do make you think they are at times. Instead I challenge you (and myself) to focus on the facts of a situation, before allowing feelings to define it.
There is nothing wrong with listening to your heart and taking a leap of faith. Some of the greatest loves have happened this way. However, there’s also nothing wrong with establishing healthy boundaries and having a safety net as either.