Falling for the Wrong Guys
(Column: Sex and Relationships)
Why can't I find a good one for a change?
Question: I'm a person with bipolar disorder and I am having a very bad streak with guys. I can't find one who will treat me right. They keep telling me that I get what I deserve, that I get what I ask for, that I wanted it. I don't think this is true. I don't think of myself as a slut or a whore. I just fall in with guys that feel good at first, but after awhile, it all gets fucked up, and Iím stuck with no way out but running away. I'm college-age and I like to write and paint. I'm smart and intellectual. Still, I fall for guys who are tough and good-looking and who make me feel all hot inside, but down the road it's awful, just awful. Itís been happening ever since I started messing with guys in high school. I do not want to be an old hussy who can't get out of this same pattern!
Michelle Bruenn: The first thing I want to point out to all my readers is that this problem is not specific to people with mental illnesses. Smart women (or men) falling for people who are bad for them is a phenomenon that crosses the lines of gender, sexuality, race, class and psychological background. If you consistently pick the wrong partners you should feel confident that you are by no means the only one.
That being said, it's hard to offer specific advice in this situation because the tendency to go for a certain type of person could arise from any number of places-past sexual abuse, childhood trauma, or self-hatred issues to name a few. Further investigation into your personal emotional history is very important and I would encourage you to work with a therapist to get a clearer grasp of where this tendency originates. For now, I would start with evaluating your opinion of yourself.
Do you think of yourself as someone worth loving? Do you hurt yourself by methods other than emotionally destructive relationships? Self-hatred will compromise your ability to have positive, stable relationships. The key to a good relationship is to respect and love yourself. If you believe that you deserve someone who will treat you well, then you are more likely to pursue a man that will.
You should pay attention to signs at the beginning of a relationship that demonstrate whether or not you are being respected and cared for. Does he ask your opinion? Does he really listen to you and remember things that you tell him? Is he interested in the topics and activities that interest you? Does he want to spend time with your friends? What do your friends think of him? Do you notice that you behave differently around him; do you become subservient or go along with whatever he wants? By asking yourself these questions about past relationships, you can get an idea of how a new boyfriend should be different. Keep in mind that you must be assertive about your needs and desires. Enable yourself to be an equal in your relationship. Good luck!
Jenny Chan: I had a friend once who was in the same situation as you. She did not know how to stop dating the wrong man. I told her that she needed to love herself first before loving someone else. She admitted that she could not help dating mean but good-looking men. I suggest you take a break from men for a while. Concentrate on yourself. Take some time to think about what you want from a man in a relationship (love, attention, companionship, etc). Love may come and go, but you are still #1!