Are you frequently drawn to the wrong type of guy or gal?
Some people find themselves consistently (yet unwittingly) dating the wrong type of person. You are attracted to the strong, silent type…and then discover he’s emotionally unresponsive. Or you like to feel needed…but not by a smothering, jealous type. Or you always seem to fall hard for the guy who seems to care less about you.
Is it online dating?
Or is it you?
In some cases, it may be temperament related. You may be unwittingly repeating certain temperamental blunders.
But if you find that you are repeatedly involved with the wrong type of person or continually enmeshed in unhealthy relationships, you may have to dig deeper. You may be unconsciously replaying childhood patterns.
An early impact
Some psychologists have proposed that the way we were raised – even as infants – can have a dramatic impact on our adult love relationships. Our attachment style, formed in early childhood, can affect the way we form emotional attachments. If our attachment style was insecure, we may wind up in a relationship with someone who is emotionally distant or unavailable, controlling or hurtful.
In most cases, our parent or primary caregiver was very warm and responsive and we formed a secure attachment. But sometimes (whether through illness, separation, abuse or other factors) the warmth and security was not there, creating an insecure, anxious, or even avoidant attachment.
As an adult, you might find yourself consistently in unhealthy relationships.
Sometimes, we unconsciously replay the same sort of situation that occurred in our childhood, perhaps hoping to one day fix it, to fill the empty heart or to heal the emotional wound.
Another reason we might fall into childhood patterns is that we want to control the unknown (such as a new relationship) by doing what worked in the past.
If Dad was an alcoholic who flew into rages without warning, you probably learned how to stuff your own feelings in order to keep a semblance of peace in the household. If you learned as a child that love was contingent upon performance, you might be a perfectionist in your relationships today. If you were abused by a family member, you may find it difficult to trust. You might use the same tools today that worked in your childhood; unfortunately, now they serve to maintain unhealthy responses.
The spiritual side
And sometimes, it’s a spiritual problem. We may feel frustrated by every partner because our expectations are impossibly high. That is, we expect a mere mortal to fulfill our heart’s immortal longings, which can only be filled by God. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
If you find yourself repeatedly choosing the wrong type, it’s time for some serious soul searching. Instead of blaming all the guys on CatholicMatch or all the girls in today’s culture, ask yourself some hard questions.
Am I repeating unhealthy childhood patterns? Do I unconsciously sabotage present relationships? Do I choose people who will reject me, thereby proving I am unworthy?
Do I push people away by being overly clingy? Is there some benefit to being in an unhealthy relationship? Is there an emotional wound from the past that needs healing?
Am I expecting one person to be able to fulfill my deepest longings as a human being? Do I believe that God loves me and that my dignity comes from being created in His image and likeness?
After some soul-searching – and perhaps some counseling – make a resolution to break the cycle and begin a new pattern, a pattern of self-respect, humility, and trust in God’s loving plan.