...is more often NOT whom you attract. Why is that? Rather than looking at our personal history and blaming our childhood for not getting or being what we want, I’m going to work backwards from examples to show you how the dynamics behind what I say are true and why. Let’s press on.
If I were to tell you that I knew of a woman who had recently just gotten out of a physically abusive relationship and I were to also tell you that she had just gotten involved in a new relationship, what would you say the odds are that she will find herself in another physically abusive relationship? Pretty likely, no? If I were to also tell you that I know of another woman who had a very alluring way with men for getting everything that she wanted and that she had just ended her latest relationship in order to start another one, wouldn’t you agree that it would be quite likely that she will have “found” another man who will give her just about anything that she wanted and when she wanted it? I’d be willing to bet a month’s salary that most of you would say yes. And what if I said the first woman was actually a man. Would he also attract an abusive woman? And if the second woman were also a man, would he also attract another woman who would give him all he wanted? Why? What inside of you would tell you that all these examples likely pose similar outcomes? Of course you’d naturally say that their track record would show that they would repeat whatever they’ve done before. Yes? Of course!
Let’s make our example a little more challenging by making the outcome a little subtler. Suppose you are a daughter growing up in a house where your father and brothers could never be trusted to tell the truth. We know both are possible because sons often grow up following the example of their fathers. But you grow up and finally start dating. Are you going to find that the men you attract will always tell you the truth? It’s not likely, especially, since you’ll enter into the relationships expecting a repeat of the previous experiences that you’ve had with men while presenting the same rapport and behaviors you had with your father and brothers. One last example. If you’re a young boy and you watch your mother tease men and cheat on your father incessantly, are you going to grow up trusting women, let alone, expect to find a woman who won’t run around on you? I think not. Your mother’s example has shown you what to expect in boy girl relationships and as a result, the attitude and behaviors with which you face new relationships will be with one of expecting infidelity.
The key to the above examples is that however we approach our life experiences, regardless of what we say we want, will determine who and what it is that we attract. Think about this for a moment. If our behavior toward who and what we approach is keyed to a specific type of projection or expectation, that behavior or expectation is going to attract a key that best fits the type of lock that we present to the world. If we expect someone to hurt us, odds are we will present a behavior that requires an answer that fulfills our expectation of their behavior; us being hurt. The abuser will be attracted to our expectation of it. As long as the expectation that we project is aligned with our prior experience, bingo! Instant and appropriate response. Our confusion sets in when we tell ourselves that we expect something but don’t actually feel or believe it. In psychology, this is called cognitive dissonance. This is why so many affirmations are ineffective. We don’t actually feel or believe what we say we are or want. Our prior experience has taught us that what we feel or believe is different. Are you starting to get a feel for where the disconnect happens and how it doesn’t fit with what we want?
Let’s approach this from the other side. Suppose that you grow up in a house where you feel that no one listens to you, no one loves you and no one goes out of their way to make you feel comfortable and wanted. Be advised that what you feel is what you ingest and retain of your experience even if the other people in the household feel that they did give you want you wanted by their standards. Based on having this feeling about yourself you venture into the world believing that you are unlovable. What kind of projection will you show the world about your belief about yourself? What kind of lock are you presenting to the world and what kind of matching key will you attract? You guessed it! Someone who doesn’t listen to you, doesn’t love you and someone who makes no effort to make you feel comfortable and wanted.
For most of us living in this fast paced tension infused western culture we often don’t notice things unless they are what many call “in your face.” That is, we have so much going on in just trying to survive in the world that we often miss the important emotional cues in who and what we attract unless they’re starring us in the face. Is it really any wonder why this disconnect between what we say we want and actually attract goes unrealized? This is why it is so vitally important that we learn to pay more attention to what we feel about things. Additionally, and contrary to this perspective, our culture is often so preoccupied with worrying about avoiding offending someone else and with attending to how others feel and what they need that our own feelings are allowed to fall by the wayside if not get completely lost in the shuffle. In many circles it is considered an insult to others and even selfish for us to allow our feelings expression in social situations under the premise that they are an imposition for others to have to deal with. Are you starting to feel a little repressed? Good! Then it means that you’re starting to recognize the insanity contained within our emotional social dynamics. Let’s look a little more closely at what our family rearing contributes to our unrealized disconnect.
If you are being raised in a family where both Mom and Dad work long hours, if not in a single parent family, how much attention are you going to learn to expect from any potential relationship if your basis for determining what you expect comes from your family example? If you receive little or no encouragement or acknowledgment for what you do or who you are as a person and, consequently, the only acknowledgment that you do receive is perceived as an over abundance of criticism or job assignments from your parents, what kind of rapport are you going to expect from someone in a new potential relationship? If every time you want something or attention from your parents and they are either always working or absorbed in their own endeavors and they tell you, “Later. I don’t have time for this (you) now,” how are you going to feel? Are you going to believe that you are lovable? Are you going to come to believe that you have self-worth? Are you going to believe that you deserve attention and love? How different is whom you say you want from whom you actually believe that you “deserve?”
There is a very old saying. “Nice guys (and now with unisex, girls) finish last.” There is hidden truth in this adage. It seems to me, and perhaps to many of you, that the more politely, respectably, honorably and compassionately you behave toward the opposite sex, especially if they’ve been raised in the fashion outlined above, the more it resurfaces their feelings of believing that they are unworthy, unlovable, undeserving and uninteresting. Even if they’re interested in you, by being good to them you wake up their self-consciousness about their believed shortcomings and belief about being unlovable. It seems that men and women who have been raised in an environment that supports little or no personal encouragement, love, self-value, nurturance or self-worth will grow up unconsciously seeking the same neglect in their relationships with the opposite sex simply because it’s what they’ve seen and what feels familiar to them. So now, let’s look back to abusive relationships. Why do we go back to things that hurt us? Because they’re familiar and we feel “secure” in them because that’s the only environment we know. And due to our early experiences, we’ve been trained to believe that we are undeserving of the honesty, fidelity, kindness, attentiveness and benefits that a loving, faithful, honest and enjoyable relationship could provide us with.
So, what are we left with? We seem to be left with a tremendous paradox. If we treat someone with love, kindness and attentiveness, those who need it most, especially if they have been raised in a difficult childhood, will shy away from us believing that they are undeserving of us and it would feel unfamiliar or even frightening to them. Left would then be those who have learned to become the abusers who will be attracted to our giving nature while feeling that we might be an easy mark for them to use and abuse.
Now, based on our rapport with our family, or lack of same, and based on the functioning theory that we attract and marry people who are very much like our parents, good and bad, who are we going to attract? Is that someone different from whom we say we want? More than likely…
It’s important to note that this type interchange occurs with us both as “givers” and “takers” as well as victims and abusers coming from similarly neglectful or abusive upbringings where we have not been allowed to become self-sufficient, trust our own judgments and have somehow become one of our parents in order to feel like we’re “on the side that winning.” Odds are, we usually become one parent and attract the “other parent” in our own relationships.
The only antidote available for us to exit this type of cycle, and we’re all guilty of participating to at least some degree, is to become whole within ourselves. Unless we have worked out our own self-worth issues, and most of us haven’t fully done so, what we say we want will almost always be different from whom we attract. Whom we feel we deserve almost always creates an unconscious polarizing bringing to us someone who exemplifies what it is that we need to work on within ourselves emotionally. We cannot remedy our feelings of unworthiness or unlovability through adding someone who we believe will compensate for what we believe we lack. We must do it ourselves, first. Then, we can attract our respective equal.