So many people confuse the feeling of ‘attraction’ with the emotion of love. For some who are in chronic dangerous and pathological relationships, it’s obvious that you have gotten these two elements ‘mixed up.’ Not being able to untangle these understandings can keep people on the same path of unsafe relationship selection because they keep choosing the same way and getting the same people!
Attraction is largely not only unconscious but also physical. There is actually something called an ‘erotic imprint’ which is the unconscious part that guides our attraction. (I talked about this in the Dangerous Man book). Our erotic imprint is literally ‘imprinted’ in our psyches when we are young–at that age when you begin to notice and be attracted to the opposite sex. As I mentioned, this is largely an unconscious drive. For instance, I like stocky dark-haired men. When ever I see that type of image, I immediately find that man ‘attractive.’ I can ‘vary’ slightly on my attraction but I’m not going to find Brad Pitt attractive. I might forego the full ‘stocky’ appearance but I’m not going to let go of some of the other traits that make men appealing to me. We like what we like. For instance, I am attracted to Johnny Depp or George Clooney. I don’t like any of the blondes or overly tall and lanky body types.
If you think back to what your ‘attraction’ basis is, you may find some patterns there as well. Attraction, however, can also be behavioral or based on emotional characteristics. For instance, some women are attracted to guys with a great sense of humor. The attraction is based on that characteristic. Other women may be attracted to athletic guys–not because of what sports do to their bodies, but because of the behavioral qualities of athletes. Attraction can be subtle–like the unconscious erotic imprinting that makes us select men based on physical attributes OR attraction may lead us to choose relationships based on behaviors or emotional characteristics like displays of empathy, helpfulness or friendliness. (I discussed your own high traits of empathy, helpfulness and friendliness in Women Who Love Psychopaths.)
Although these traits might guide our relationships selection, this is not the foundation of love. It’s the foundation of selection.
Often, our relationship selection comes more from attraction than it does anything else. So knowing ‘who’ and ‘what types’ you are attracted to will help you understand your patterns of selection. Some people choose characteristics–helpfulness, humor, gentleness or another quality that they seem to be drawn to. Other people are more physical in their attraction and find the physicality of someone either a ‘go’ or a ‘no.’ Maybe you like blondes or blue eyes. This may also drive your pattern of selection.
Also in the area of attraction–sometimes it’s Traumatic Attraction that seems to drive our patterns of selection. People, who have been abused, especially as children, can have unusual and destructive patterns of selection. While this may seem the opposite of what you would expect, these patterns are largely driven by unresolved trauma. People who were raised in alcoholic, dysfunctional, or abusive homes are likely to repeat those exact patterns in their selection of a partner. They often select individuals who have similar ‘characteristics’ to the abusive/neglectful/addicted adult they grew up with or were exposed to. The characteristics could be physical (how they look) or behavioral (how they act) or emotional (how they abuse/neglect). In any event, the unresolved abuse issues drive them to keep selecting abusers for relationships. Today, they are mystified as to why they keep picking abusive/neglectful/addicted people for relationship partners. That which remains unresolved, revolves–around and around thru our lives until it is resolved.
So, when you have no idea that attraction (good, bad, or dysfunctional) is guiding your selections, you just keep picking the same way and getting the same thing. But because the world keeps using the word ‘love’ you use it, too. And you label your attraction-based-choices (that are largely dysfunctional) as ‘love’ and then become confused about the nature of this thing called ‘love.’ Your attraction is NOT love. It is merely attraction. What DOES or DOES NOT happen IN the relationship may be more reflective of ‘love’ than anything else.
Remember the Bible verse, “Love is patient, love is kind, love does not seek it’s own…”? it helps to reflect how love is ‘other centered’ not in a codependent and frantic needy way but in a way that helps others be interdependent in relationships. Love is often attributed to positive ‘attributes’ such as:
Joy – love smiling
Peace – love resting
Patience – love waiting
Kindness – love showing itself sensitive to others’ feelings
Goodness – love making allowances
Faithfulness – love proving constant
Gentleness – love yielding
Self-control – love triumphing over selfish inclinations
(Now, think about if ANY of those traits described the Pathological Love Relationship? I didn’t think so….)
“As long as we believe that someone else has the power to make us happy then we are setting ourselves up to be victims” (From: Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls).
This Valentine’s Day be very clear with yourself about love and attraction. This is a time when you might be likely to want to recontact him. Let me remind you, NOTHING has changed. His pathology is still the same. And on February 15th you could hate yourself for recontacting him for one weak illusionary moment on Feb 14th–in which the world is focused on love but he is focused on manipulation, control or anything OTHER than love. If you open that door, then you will have weeks or months of trying to get him out and disconnect again.
Instead, plan ahead for your potential relapse by setting up an accountability partner AND something to do! Go to a movie with a friend; go out to dinner, so SOMETHING that takes responsibility and action for your own loneliness at this time of year. Whatever you do, don’t have a knee jerk reaction and contact him. One day on the calendar about love is just an ILLUSION!
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