He struggles with the fear that she might see
the mismatch and leave him for someone who
she can afford, such as a person who is better
looking, smarter and more successful.
After several failed relationships, the question that many of us ask is, "Why do I keep picking the wrong person?" A friend remarked after her last failed relationship, "If there was a room of 500 great men and one loser, I would choose the loser."
Why do some people keep finding themselves in unhealthy relationships?
Perhaps the first question we need to ask is, "What makes a person wrong for us?" Usually the answer is found in how a partner relates to us. The person may be wrong for us if we find ourselves walking on eggshells and weighing every word and action so we will not get hurt or abandoned.
Our relationship is unhealthy when we are accepted conditionally, - that is, when we are loved only if we are who our partner wants us to be. Another indicator is when we feel so controlled that it is not safe to have a different viewpoint or choice.
The person is wrong for us when there is a lack of trust, honesty, commitment and healthy boundaries. As we look for reasons we find ourselves in unhealthy relationships, we need to begin first by taking a hard look at ourselves. What in us attracts us to the wrong people?
Relationship supermarket - Why we pick others for a relationship is strongly influenced by how much or how little we value ourselves. Choosing others for a relationship is like going to the supermarket. When we go to the supermarket, what we buy is determined by what we think we can afford (for most of us!).
It works this way with relationships. We give a value to our appearance, our personality, our intelligence, our talents, etc. Then, when we look into the marketplace of relationships, we pick people we think we can "afford." We might say to ourselves, "I can't afford that person because she is too attractive, intelligent, and so on." If we don't value ourselves, we are prone to settle or choose someone who will not value us, either. The healthier we are, the healthier our choices will be.
We may be in a relationship with someone who feels insecure because he believes that there is a mismatch of worth. Since he doesn't feel good about himself, he feels threatened when his partner feels good about herself or her accomplishments. He struggles with the fear that she might see the mismatch and leave him for someone who she can afford, such as a person who is better looking, smarter and more successful.
So to "keep" her, he criticizes and undermines her self-worth. He even tries to convince her that she is lucky to be with him because no one else would have her.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700