Are you really looking for what you say you’re looking for? And if you found it, would you be ready? We’re not talking about infatuation, or flirtation, or having someone to talk to at the end of the day. Love – real, honest, surrender-your-pride-and-your-privacy love – isn’t just hard to find; it’s hard to look for.
We know trust, honesty and openness are a recipe for a lasting and satisfying bond. But they’re also what leave us most vulnerable to hurt, betrayal and abandonment. It’s no wonder that many people who say they’re looking for love repeatedly take steps to avoid it. If you’ve consistently made choices that led to failed or distant relationships, or eliminated the possibility of a relationship altogether, you may want to examine what it is you’re really after. There are all kinds of ways to avoid closeness, but here are a few of the most common ways people unknowingly sabotage their relationships.
You choose unavailable people
Consider the possibility that it isn’t him. It’s you. The type of person you are attracted to reveals a lot about what you want (and don’t want). When you repeatedly pursue people who are not interested in you, you’re choosing relationships that will never get started or are destined to fail. You can choose partners who are unavailable in other ways too. Emotionally unavailable, physically distant, already taken; they all have one thing in common: they won’t lead to the kind of close bond that leaves us terrifyingly vulnerable, and intimately connected.
You’re just “really picky”
Does it seem like no one who is interested in you ever lives up to your standards? Do you say you’re open to a relationship but find that you haven’t been attracted to anyone in a very long time? You’re probably not as open to love as you think. Being extremely discerning is a common way of protecting yourself from potentially close relationships. People who are being picky to distance themselves from intimacy are almost never aware of their protective behavior and may even spend a lot of energy looking for a partner. This behavior is usually coupled with a need for pursuit or fantasy build-up to heighten the attraction. Daydreams and pursuits might bring on the rush of a new relationship, but it won’t bring the intimacy – and the risks – of the real thing.
You fixate on the negative (physically or mentally)
Fixating on flaws is just another way to create obstacles to intimacy. Too tall, too freckled, too into music; if you start nitpicking as soon as you get close to a person, you’re ruling out further closeness. No one person can fulfill all of your needs. It just isn’t possible. If he’s whimsical, unpredictable and spontaneous, he’s not going to be the rock that keeps you grounded. He can’t be the sensitive and compassionate guy and fulfill your bad boy fantasy. No one should ever feel they are settling, but if you find yourself backing off from a relationship just because you’ve detect a flaw or imagined a quality your S.O. doesn’t possess, you’re setting yourself up for an endless cycle. Ruling out everyone who isn’t perfect is just another way of ruling out everyone.
You create distance
Some people pick fights when things get too close. Others retreat from their partners to avoid sharing real feelings or engage in affairs to sabotage their relationships. More active saboteurs will end their relationships once they get past a certain point. However it is created, that distance will either detonate an explosive break-up or slowly eat away at your relationship, leaving you free of the anxieties of love and commitment.
We all fear intimacy on some level. But most of us are also looking for a relationship that will truly bring us closer to another person. If you recognize a destructive trend in your own relationships, take heart. It’s a lot easier to contain destructive impulses once you’ve identified them. Sharing yourself with another person isn’t always romantic; it can be a complex, scary and awkward experience. But most people who have been in love will tell you it’s a risk worth taking.
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