An acquaintance realised that she was getting what she wished for when she found herself dumped and alone on her birthday. Her then-boyfriend was typically twitchy about committing to having breakfast with her the following day and could be damn-near hostile about hanging out with her friends and family, tending to bail on events or cause drama afterwards. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that no matter how fabulous she was, he wasn’t going to be chomping at the bit to settle down, never mind make her feel special on her birthday. It wasn’t his inclination or his typical pattern of behaviour.
How the hell did this happen?, she wondered. From her perspective, she was the doting, patient, loving girlfriend who saw beyond his ‘quirky’ ways to his potential. She couldn’t understand what she was doing wrong and why each boyfriend had an allergy to commitment.
And then she realised something: each boyfriend had been what she wanted at that time.
This guy was muscly, tick, very good looking, tick, gave her butterflies, tick, ‘spontaneous’, tick (she never knew when he was going to show up or when he was going to pull a Houdini, plus he tended to expect her to drop everything), great in bed, tick, and had a good job, tick. This was what she found attractive and she went out with variations of the same guy in different packages, always trying to meet their needs in the hope that they would meet hers.
As usual, she had got what she was looking for, it’s just that she didn’t like what else it came with.
She hadn’t realised that her type is also moody, ambivalent, prone to selfishness, passive aggressive and reluctant to take responsibility.
Her thinking is highly common. It’s the underlying belief that you base your relationships around what attracts you, fall in love and then, shazam, everything else falls into place.
The reality: what she’s been attracted to is all well and good but none of those things have anything to do with 1) compatibility (character and direction) and 2) her emotional needs being met.
We think, for instance, that somebody having a ‘good job’ fulfills our need for security but how secure are we going to feel if the relationship is unstable, we’re constantly doubting ourselves and we’re pretending to have less needs than we do in an effort to avoid scaring them off?
She fell into that relationship pothole where we assume that what we’re into has something to do with how much we’ll enjoy the relationship and how best to meet our needs.
She’d also figured that when she was ready to settle down, the same type that she’d been having fun (and heartache) with for all of these years would spontaneously combust into being relationship-ready.
Be careful what you wish for.
If you want to have your space and not allow anybody in so that you can be emotionally unavailable, there’s plenty of people out there that will give you this — and you will feel more alone than you ever have. You’ll have so much space, you’ll wonder if there’s an actual relationship.
If you want somebody to fill your daddy (or mommy) needs, take it from someone who knows, you’ll get it… and then act like a child while handing over all of your power. You will wind up feeling terrified of abandonment and believing that you’re not ‘good enough’ all over again.
If you want somebody to be in charge and tell you what to do and think, there’s a shady, controlling-type out there ready to hijack your life and put you into a doormat costume — and you will lose (and hate) yourself due to the lack of control you have over your own identity and life.
Be careful what you specify and be careful of what you insist is your ‘type’ because unless you’re saying, ‘My type is someone who treats me with love, care, trust and respect’, your type is a blind spot.
Dating and relationships help you to develop the necessary skills of discernment and refinement.
We all have ideas about what’s attractive, what it takes to make a relationship and how best to meet our emotional needs, and it’s through our relationships that our assumptions, ideas and expectations are put to the test.
Your experiences of not getting what you truly need and want aren’t saying, ‘You’re a f-up. You’re not good enough. It’s all your fault’.
Your experiences of not getting what you truly need and want are telling you to go back to the drawing board and challenge your thinking even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. Your experiences are inviting you to see something that you couldn’t see before so that you can get closer to who you are and where you’re truly headed.
You quite simply can’t get what you don’t look for or prioritise.
Expand your horizons.
The truth is, sometimes we don’t ask for much because we’re afraid we’re not worth it, and once we compassionately examine the untruths behind this belief that’s governing our choice, we can raise our standards. By valuing us for who we really are, we stop matching ourselves with relationships that either don’t dig too deep beyond the surface or that reinforce negative beliefs that aren’t serving us.
Ultimately, you can be attracted to somebody for any reason you like but make sure that what attracts (and keeps) you, as well as what you prioritise, matches the type of relationship you say you want.
You don’t get substantial, meaningful relationships out of superficial or light content.