Does regular communication feel like a turn-off? Does someone who respects your needs and remembers little details feel like a con-artist to you? Does the fact great people weird you out feel confusing?
If so, you’re not alone. First, let’s talk about what qualifies as a “healthy relationship.”
It’s not someone who bends over backward trying to please you. It’s not a vanilla person you feel zero connection with.
A healthy relationship happens with a person who regularly texts you. Someone who plans dates without you having to always make them. A person who respects, values, and appreciates your presence in their life.
Someone who knows that they want you, and there’s a mutual connection. Sounds like a dream, right?
Well, you’d be surprised how many people are turned off when that kind of person walks into their life. I was amongst them, and my current boyfriend was said person.
His clear interest in me and his stable personality felt weird at first. I thought we didn’t have passion because we never fought. He never played games. I always knew what I was getting with him.
But on paper, he was everything I wanted in a relationship and didn’t have any of the negative qualities that I didn’t like from my exes. But for some reason, a little part of me felt like I should run.
I wrote an article recently about why people are attracted to other people who treat them terribly. The reason can be because of the attachment (or lack of) they formed with their parents. It can be that they dated a crappy person in the past and they seek what’s familiar. Or maybe they’re looking for the closure they never got.
Whatever your subconscious reason may be, you might be feeling at a loss. You know what kind of person would make you happiest, yet you still fall for the people who make you feel like crap.
If so, let’s talk about why it is that you’re not attracted to great people.
When you’ve dated enough asshats, you’ll be even more attracted to asshats. It’s a simple phenomenon called the mere-exposure effect. You’re attracted to what you know.
In college, I dated an emotionally abusive man. After him, I went on to date three more guys who were cocky didn’t have my best interest at heart, and who I stayed with far longer than I should’ve.
Was it a coincidence those relationships were basically the same? Not at all. I’d formed a pattern of being in unhealthy relationships to the point that anything outside of that felt uncomfortable.
That’s not to say that once your comfort zone is filled with jerks, things can’t be changed. Far from. It just means you’ll have to put in some conscious effort to date differently.
What does hooking up with strangers, arguing with your partner, and having someone play games with you all have in common? Hormones.
Dopamine makes a person feel good and is released in the brain when they’re rewarded. So when you meet someone at a bar and manage to take them home, that’s your reward. Same for make-up sex, receiving an apology and having someone finally text you back after radio silence.
But with a healthy relationship, you don’t receive big bursts of dopamine in the same way. Sure, you have sexual attraction and lust initially, but those aren’t as rewarding as the dopamine hits you’re used to getting in the past.
The gratification is there, but it’s not as apparent. It’s not as addictive.
Think about it. In elementary school, if someone was mean to us, our parents told us the other kid acted that ay because they “liked us.” That teasing and name-calling was a normal form of showing your attraction.
On the flip side, we’re told to give “nice people” a try instead of solely looking for passion and sexual chemistry. Essentially, someone who treats you well will be boring, but they’re better than dating jerks.
These two ideas perpetuate an unhealthy understanding of love. They say that someone who mistreats you will be the person you’ll be madly in love with, but you should settle for a nice guy because he won’t leave you crying on the bathroom floor.
Does every sign of interest and sweet compliment make you think, “what’s your angle? Why are you so nice?” If so, I used to be in the same boat.
Once your heart’s been hurt, it’s natural to want to protect it. You may have fallen hard for someone who cheated or turned out to be a raging jerk. That experience could leave you feeling betrayed. Not exactly an easy feeling to shake off.
Putting your guard up to keep you from getting hurt can make you feel like the only way to go about being with someone’s who’s kind. You might be scared to be vulnerable with them because you can’t fathom going through another heartbreak.
Instead, you opt for keeping your distance from someone. But all you end up doing is half-heartedly giving a relationship a chance.