Recently one of my clients came in and plopped down in the chair for our session. She was practically in tears from frustration.
She told me a story about a guy she’d been dating whom she thought was “Mr. Right”, but after hearing the details, this guy was so clearly “Mr. Not-even-in-the-ballpark-of-being-right”. In fact, he fit the perfect description of “Mr. Emotionally-Unavailable”.
“Why do I keep attracting these people in my life? I feel like I’m cursed or have some bad energy that is attracting this!”
The good news was that no one had placed a curse on her. The real truth was that she was subconsciously choosing these people because they were familiar.
Think about it. How many times do you make decisions based on what feels familiar?
a route to work
a vacation destination
and yes, even people.
Here’s an analogy. Say you’ve grown up in a neighborhood on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’. It’s run-down, your neighbors are loud, it’s got a lot of crime, but because it’s all you’ve ever know, somehow it feels safe.
One day, you decide to move out of that neighborhood and into a new one, a quiet one, with trees, flowers, no crime, but something feels off to you and you long for the old neighborhood. It doesn’t feel comfortable being there. It’s not what you’ve known.
In psychology they call this the Familiarity Principle. It’s even the basis of why parolees will self-sabotage in order to return to prison.
In my client’s case, we discovered that she had a weekend dad who was a workaholic and often forgot to pick her up on his weekends. Even when she did see him, he wouldn’t plan things for them to do, he wouldn’t ask her about her life. It was only when he’d occasionally take her to the park to kick the soccer ball that she would get his focus for small increments of time.
Fast forward 30 years and we see the themes of abandonment and being drawn towards emotionally unavailable people play out in her adult life. She was also wearing the persona of ‘cool girl’ to get attention and love while sacrificing her own needs. In fact, when the nice, stable, emotionally present guys did show up, she got bored and discarded them within a couple of dates.
So if you’ve been finding yourself shaking your fist at the Universe, asking the same question, you might examine how far back these types of people and/or experiences have shown up in your life.
This can go beyond people, it could be anything that you feel doesn’t resonate with you, but continues to pop up repeatedly in your life.
When you explore that you might actually be choosing this based its familiarity, only then will you be ready to move into that neighborhood on the ‘right side of the tracks’.