What Attracts Us, Pushes Us Away

Why is it that we fall in love and then spend the next few years yelling, criticizing and arguing as if we had committed to our worst enemy? It makes no sense. It makes even less sense to break up and commit to someone just like our ex.

All humans acquire expectations, both positive and negative in childhood. These expectations encourage us to think, feel, and act in certain ways. However, expectations do not exist in a vacuum, they exist in a context. And the context that shapes our expectations is built around our past.

Our past doesn’t necessarily predict our future, but what is familiar is comfortable and can offer security. For example, a woman who was criticized by her father and blamed by her mother will not be comfortable with a partner who treats her with empathy or support. When she dates a controlling and hostile guy, her friends will say: “He’s not for you,” but she will defend him saying: “He’s really a good person down deep. It’ll work out, you’ll see.”

Another example is the man who was abandoned by his father as a child. He is not “comfortable” with women who are stable and predictable. He will gravitate towards women who will mirror his father’s example and reject him. If he marries a woman who is unlikely to abandon him, he will provoke her until she can’t stand it any more and stomps out the door. Mission accomplished.

If this man finds himself dating a woman who treats him with respect, he will feel uncomfortable and will end it. He will not question the nature of his discomfort, nor seek to relieve it. He will keep dating until he meets someone that he feels comfortable with.

Still another example is the woman who was her father’s sparring partner. She will be comfortable with men who fight with her. She will be uncomfortable with men who try to calm her down, to please her, or treat her as an equal. She will scorn such people as too passive, or too boring. She will search for someone more exciting to turn her on. In time, she will find him and they will make miserable music together.

This process is not rational or logical. We ask ourselves, “What does she see in him?” If we ask her, she will come up with some cover story like, “He is so strong, so sure of himself.” The paradox is that we often separate from our partner for the same reasons that we were first attracted to them:

First Attraction: “He was so strong and manly.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He was a brute”

First Attraction: “He was so sensitive.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He was so dramatic.”

First Attraction: “She was helpless; she needed me.”
Grounds For Divorce: “She was so dependent on me, I couldn’t breathe.”

First Attraction: “I loved his sense of humor.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He never took me seriously”

First Attraction: “She was sharp as a tack.”
Grounds For Divorce: “She cut me to ribbons with that mouth of hers”

First Attraction: “He was so ambitious and successful.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He never came home from work.”

First Attraction: “She was so pretty.”
Grounds For Divorce: “She was so superficial and seeking attention.”

First Attraction: “I loved her independence!”
Grounds For Divorce: “She wouldn’t do a thing I told her.”

First Attraction: “He was a take-charge guy.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He was a control freak.”

First Attraction: “He was so easy going.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He never made a decision”

First Attraction: “He was so attentive.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He never let me out of his sight.”

First Attraction: “He was so passionate.”
Grounds For Divorce: He always yelled at me.”

First Attraction: “He couldn’t keep his hands off me.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He would push and smack me.”

First Attraction: “He was so logical.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He couldn’t share his feelings.”

Click to visit original source at PsychCentral

Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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