I have this addiction to creating relationships with emotionally unavailable people. I'm not talking about friendships where we just don't get along. I'm talking about that friend who never has a kind word for me. That friend who leaves me feeling less than who I am. It's these negative relationships that I focus on. My attention goes to trying to "fix" a problem that only I seem to be having. I’ve been doing this since I can remember. I have memories from grade school crying because my friend was mean to me then inviting her to my house to play, hoping that I could somehow make her happy so she wouldn’t be mad at me.
Yes, I had my own issues to deal with. My parents were both abusive alcoholics; they separated when I was five. They were too wrapped up in their unhappiness to nurture or teach my sister and me how to love or be loved. I just never saw the connection between what I wasn’t getting at home with what I was putting out in the world.
I was always searching for the why, trying to figure out why the other person treated me the way they did. Why I invited these types of people in to my life. It’s only as an adult that I have learned that I'll never answer the why questions. I'll never get what I'm looking for from these people, and it’s not their fault.
Yet every time this situation comes up, it feels like the same brick wall I've run into before. The good news is that I’m learning to see the warning signs before I hit the brick wall and wonder why my head hurts.
1. Even though you're in a new relationship (professional, friendship or romantic) you keep thinking of someone negative from your past who this person reminds you of.
2. When you're with this person, you feel a strong sense of deja vu.
3. You find yourself defending your feelings.
4. When you leave the company of this person, you feel exhausted and dumped on.
5. You find yourself fixating on the situation, replaying conversations in your head, thinking of comments you “should have said.”
These warnings signs will show up in your body, too: shortness of breath, a tight chest, clenched jaw and nausea, just to name a few.
When you feel these warning signs, what will you do? First, get real with yourself. Is this relationship similar to other negative relationships you've experienced? Do you really want to continue a relationship with someone who makes you feel like less than who you are? Then choose. Make a choice that empowers you.
In the end, remember that not everyone is a match for you (or you for them). Wish them love and move on.