It’s not them, it’s you. Really, and that’s why you keep getting hurt in your relationships
If you’ve suffered through one failed relationship after another, you might be wondering why nothing ever seems to work out for you and you keep getting hurt. Your friends may reassure you that it’s just bad luck, that the guys you’ve dated were jerks, and that the right person is out there.
But what if the guys you date aren’t really at fault? What if you’re the one to blame?
Don’t get me wrong; the guys you’re dating might be jerks, and you might have bad luck. As women, we tend to blame ourselves too much for everything anyway, taking responsibility for other’s people’s problems and letting them get away with hurting us. But sometimes we have to look at what we’re inviting into our lives and consider whether our own actions are causing, or at least contributing, to our unhappiness.
Here are seven common things you could be doing that cause you to keep getting hurt in your relationships…
1. You go for the wrong guys
We all have a type; you just may not know what yours is. Maybe you think you don’t have a type, because you don’t care how tall a guy is, what job he does, or anything else obvious from the outside. But you might always go for the nerdy, insecure guy who doesn’t think he’s good enough for you, or the guy who’s still hung up on his ex and can’t move forward. There are certain kinds of men you should avoid at all costs, and if you keep falling for them, you’re going to get your heart broken over and over again.
2. You only see what you want to see
Therapists call this ‘projecting’ – when you fail to see the actual qualities of the person in front of you, and only see the things you want to see. If you fall in love with someone fast, before you really know them, it’s easy to do this. They’re like a blank slate, ready for you to write all over and make up a story about how they’re the perfect person for you. But at some point, the truth becomes clear, and your projections will fall away, leaving you with someone who isn’t at all the person you thought he was.
3. You fall for people who are unavailable
Just because someone wants to date you, doesn’t mean he’s actually available. There are the guys who are truly unavailable, because they’re still married, live far away, or are actively lying about who they are – and then there are the guys who think they’re available, but actually aren’t. These are the guys walking around with deep childhood wounds or unresolved feelings about their exes; the emotionally unavailable ones who don’t love themselves and therefore can’t possibly love anyone else. You think you’ll be the one to change them, but you’re setting yourself up to get hurt.
4. You seek out the familiar
Couples therapist Harville Hendrix, author of the classic relationship self-help book Getting the Love You Want, says we tend to look for partners who feel familiar to us – because they hurt us the same way our parents did. Writes Hendrix, “our unconscious need is to have our feelings of aliveness and wholeness restored by someone who reminds us of our caretakers. In other words, we look for someone with the same deficits of care and attention that hurt us in the first place.” However, according to Hendrix, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You just have to be willing to put in the work of resolving those old struggles before you can achieve a lasting, loving bond that will ultimately be everything you want. Unfortunately, many men aren’t willing to hang in there and give it a chance when things get tough.
5. You think you aren’t worthy of love
It’s a cliché, but it really is true that you get the love you think you deserve. If deep down, you think you’re so broken that you can’t be in a relationship, or that there’s something wrong with you that makes you unworthy of real, deep, lasting love, you’re probably never going to get it. You have to believe you’re just as worthy of love as anyone else is, and that you deserve to have someone who adores you and feels lucky to have you. Otherwise, you might just push that person away when he comes along.
6. You’re afraid to be vulnerable
Falling in love is scary. Opening yourself up to someone and showing them who you really are, and asking them to love you, is a huge risk. You might end up getting hurt. But if you’re not willing to take that chance, you’ll never get what you want. You can’t keep a wall up around your heart and expect to connect with someone in a meaningful way. Until you can make yourself vulnerable and take that risk, you won’t be able to have a truly happy and fulfilling relationship.
7. You don’t know what you want
I know people who swear by this: make a list of all the qualities you want in a partner, focus on the list, believe in the list, and that person will appear. Go beyond physical characteristics and get intentional about what you really want, even if you think you can’t get it. Are you looking for someone who values honesty above all else and never even tells a white lie? Do you want someone who’s financially stable enough to support you while you go back to school so you can pursue a different career? Is it important to you that your partner shares your enthusiasm for running marathons, or reading, or traveling the globe? If you don’t know what you want, you won’t get it. So write it down and be clear about your goals for a relationship. Otherwise, you’ll keep ending up unhappy, and you may not even know why.
Elizabeth lives in Brooklyn with two daughters, occasional mice and innumerable to-do lists. She runs a nine-minute mile, bakes a mean chocolate chip cookie, and can always be persuaded to sing at a karaoke bar. Follow her on Twitter.