“Why do I always date losers?” Haven’t we all had friends who’ve bemoaned their love life – or lack thereof – in this way? We’ve all known people whose chief complaint is that they keep attracting the wrong type of person into their life. If you count yourself among the lovelorn who never seems to find the right match, it’s time to look at the common denominator in all these botched romances – you.
The mistake we often make when trying to solve any situation is to look outside ourselves for the answer. Dr. Harville Hendrix in his book “Getting the Love you Want” explains how the reptilian part of our brains – the brainstem – causes us to be attracted to people who represent the best and worst qualities of our original caretakers. So if your relationship with your parents was an unhealthy one, it stands to reason that you will attract people with similar characteristics as lovers – not because you’re masochistic, but simply because your brain says, “Go for this one. There’s something familiar here.” Think about how often someone you met who seemed great at first turned out to be a total loser (at least, in your opinion). How often did you first see the desirable traits of your parents manifest in this person only to see the negative traits later on?
After the end of my first marriage, I found myself back on the dating scene and attracting more men who wound up reminding me of my father – and not in a good way. I took two major steps to rectify this situation:
1. I started going out with men for whom I felt no immediate attraction whatsoever. This may sound counterintuitive for dating, but it actually started a process of rewiring my brain to be attracted to the right kind of person. That part of me that loved the bad boy was looking for the dad who yelled at me and called me names. By ignoring that part and going out instead with the nice guys, I gradually found myself more attracted to men who showed kinder qualities and who also possessed the dynamism and drive my father had in the ways that were a positive part of his personality.
2. I thought about what qualities I wanted in a partner – and developed them in myself. All too often, we use a lover as a crutch, wanting that person to be everything we’re not. When we become what we want to see in a partner, we attract someone with those characteristics.
Start with you and make these changes. You’ll be surprised at who comes calling when you become what you’re looking for.