If you grew up around abusive unhealthy love, or have experienced unhealthy relationships, it is mostly what you end up being attracted to subconsciously.
I believe that this is true because it explains why I was once so attracted to love that never quite met my needs. In Why We Keep Attracting The Wrong Partners, the idea is that we attract what we think we deserve and what we think we deserve is deeply rooted in what we experienced or witnessed in our early childhood. For me, I have always thought there has to be a way to change damaged men; I have watched my mom try to crack the code since I was conscious enough to notice to subtleties of her marriage with my father.
It is natural to be uncomfortable with unfamiliar things, even when they are good for us. As living creatures, our natural instinct is to either fight the things that scare us or run away from them. Despite what our bodies may be feeling in new situations, I am here to tell you that it is okay to stay in uncomfortable things that are good for you because that is where the biggest growth happens.
Recently, I started dating someone who is so thoughtful and kind, it’s actually kind of gross how cute he is. A few weeks ago, when I was in the middle of an anxiety attack on the phone with him, he left work because my wellbeing is important to him. He came over with my comfort food—Chinese yellow rice and fried chicken—and after making sure I ate, he lay in bed with me and held me as I tried to calm down.
I’m in a really healthy relationship with someone who has more than enough time to shower me with loving affirmations. After three soul-sucking unhealthy relationships, this one feels too good to be true. At first, it was really unsettling and at times it still is. In my current relationship, there are no manipulative chasing games, being left on reading for days, gaslighting, insecurity inducing neglectful behaviors, verbal abuse, nor emotional misleading. Instead, I’m told really sweet things every day and my wildest dreams are encouraged.
However, I still find myself thinking that this form of stability is only a mind made up reality. My own past traumas can’t believe it’s real. I’ve confused unhealthy patterns with healthy ones before making it really hard to feel confident in my own present-day understandings of my new relationship.
A new relationship is an exciting thing, especially the beginning stages. After identifying my needs in my new relationship and being in open communication with my partner about what those are, I get a good feeling in my body that lets me know it’s okay to keep moving forward. The following things have helped me become more open to my partner’s genuine efforts to love me for who I am, despite the trauma from my past abusive relationships:
1. Recognizing why I attract what I attract
It’s very hard to fix something when you don’t know what needs fixing. In my relationships, much like my need to have my dad be more emotionally available to me, I tend to seek validation from emotionally empty men. I attract partners who can’t offer me genuine love because I subconsciously do not believe I deserve it. At least not without having to work hard for it. In the past, I have been comfortable with begging for affection because I had been doing it my whole life.
2. Prioritizing my well-being
We can lie to everyone, but ourselves. Unpacking trauma from past relationships can leave us on edge and unable to trust others. In the early stages of my relationship, I debated the following questions a lot: do I feel safe when I am with this person? Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally? If not, what do I need? For a while, I tried so hard to hide all of my apprehensive feelings but after a while, I realized there were things that I needed from my boyfriend in order to feel safe. A good indicator that your significant other’s intentions are pure is if they do the work to meet you where you’re at.
3. Going at my own pace
My boyfriend has already told me he loves me. Instead of giving into the moment and saying it back, I told him that I still need more time. In past relationships, my eagerness to fill my voids has made me rush things. I allowed myself to fall all too deeply and too fast without really taking the time to process all the newness. This made me miss out on a lot of red flags. I’ve since made a vow, that I will check in with myself throughout all of my relationships to make sure things are going at a pace I feel comfortable with.
After taking the time to soul search, accept my needs, and communicate them with my partner I felt ready, I feel safe and in control of my well-being. If you’re still debating if you can trust the person who is trying to give you the world, know that your body will know what does not feel right. Listen to your intuition and trust that you will have your own back.