There’s a reason you keep falling for not-your-type, it’ll-never-work or not-in-this-lifetime love interests. And Darling, it’s time to start breaking the pattern.
It was nearly two in the morning and I was on my 10th beer when I saw S walking out the bar.
We caught each other’s eyes as I yelled his name and ran over.
Two years ago he sporadically took off to southeast Asia and I hadn’t seen him since. Before the running off we were pretty good friends; we spent my 27th birthday together chugging champagne while making really bad youtube videos; we went to an oil spill protest where we ended up at some guy’s magical house with a full-size trampoline inside; he crashed on my couch so many times while he was living out of his van (yes, a van, I know).
I remember always laughing with him.
I remember that there was a moment when I was totally and completely head-over-heels in love with him, but could never tell him.
Then he left.
And because we were never a couple and because he basically just disappeared out of my life, I felt I could love him even more because he didn’t really exist.
He was the standard that no one could match.
Then, on Saturday, at bar close in Boulder, all that changed.
He was back.
My illusions crushed.
I (of course) slept with him.
Because the truth of the matter is, I do love him. I love him and I know he’ll never love me back, which is why loving him is so easy to do.
But I hate it.
I hate that I keep falling for guys who can’t match my feelings and I know that I am doing it out of some sort of subconscious fear. If I found someone who was able to give back I’d run screaming in the opposite direction. This is why half of the crushes I have are on guys who have serious girlfriends and the other half are on dudes who are either narcissists or live at least 400 miles away.
The thing about S is that he could pick up and leave at anytime and if I gave him my heart, he’d take it with him. Then I would die because I’d no longer have a heart.
So, that would be a pretty big problem, being dead and all.
There’s a pattern here. I fall for unavailable guys because I’m afraid of what would happen if they were actually available. If my biggest crush of all time finally broke up with his girlfriend would I have the biggest crush of all time anymore or would I be over him? I’d probably move on, and quickly.
I know I’m doing this to protect myself.
I’m afraid I’ll be betrayed again. I’m afraid I’m not smart enough to prevent betrayal from happening all over. I’m afraid I can’t really actually protect myself—and the truth is, I can’t. And by crushing out on people who can’t crush back, I’m basically betraying myself.
I obviously don’t need a guy to help with that one anymore.
So, what’s a girl to do when she can finally see her problem but, it’s a really big bad problem? It’s a habitual bad problem.
5 Ways to Retrain Bad Romance Brain
Recognizing that a pattern exists is just the start to overcoming the issue. Now comes the work.
Take a History Course on Yourself
Look back on past romantic relationships and dive into the weak spots. What were the triggers? What was the final tick? What feelings repeatedly came up throughout?
While you’re there, look back on your relationship with your parents. This could be where the pattern actually started and it might take some deep examination of the existential reality of your childhood to really figure out why the pattern continues.
Forgive, but Never Forget
There are probably plenty of people along the way who have hurt you in some shape or form, but that’s how humanity rolls. We have to let it go in order to make room for better things down the road.
Maybe it was your emotionally unavailable father or your degrading girlfriend; though we never want to feel the way they made us feel, we also have to embrace that they no longer can do that—that no one can—and that it’s time to let all of that baggage go.
Lay Down Your Self-Defeating Shield
The hardest part in all of this is letting go of control. We create tall walls and negative relationship patterns in order to protect ourselves, but we’re actually doing more harm than good.
We have to relinquish the defense mechanism in order for the repetitive bad romances to stop. What does that even mean? It means we have to give up power. We have to open ourselves up to scary emotional situations. We have to be willing to get hurt, because it’s the only way we can move forward.
Make Many, Many Lists
Speaking of letting go, it’s good to know what you’re letting go of, so make a list of your fears. Get deep, when you say, “fear of intimacy,” what does that really mean? Are you afraid you’ll be abandoned? Why would they leave? Are you afraid you’re not worthy? Why would you not be worthy?
After that, keep the pen out and write a list of what you desire in your future romantic entanglements. What traits does the person (or people) possess—from personality to their available relationship commitment, get to the nitty gritty so it will be easier to see what you don’t want when it’s placed in front of you.
Finally, while your thoughts are fresh and your notebook has paper, write down why you deserve love (the giving and receiving of it). A lot of issues are wrapped up in this idea of unworthiness, but we’re all worthy of love and it’s good to remind ourselves why.
Practice Daily Presence
When we fall into bad relationships it’s often because we’re living in our past traumas instead of being in our present best. We’re running from something (probably pain) instead of embracing where we are. Trying to live more mindfully can help relieve some of the past stresses and help make room for more positivity.
Though it will take time and a great amount of energy, the pattern can be changed. I haven’t quite gotten there yet, but I’m at least on the right road. Eventually, I’ll fall in love with an available person and my entire world will be rocked; I’m very much looking forward to that. In the meantime, back to my list writing and my avoidance of all current crushes.
[image: via shutterstock]