For as long as I can remember, I had the wrong men in my life. Some of them were toxic, some were abusive and some of them were selfish… Some of them maybe weren’t all that wrong, but they were definitely wrong for me. Let me get one thing straight— wasn’t picking guys of a particular type (or at least, I thought I wasn’t); some of my boyfriends were players, you would characterize some of them as nice guys and they all looked different. But, all of them had one thing in common—they all treated me badly.
When I was younger, I thought all of my heartbreaks were due to my bad luck. I didn’t chase any of these guys, they were all actually running after me in the beginning. But as soon as they saw they had me, they changed drastically. Some changed the way they behaved with me, some of them just walked away and some acted perfectly until I found out about their lies and cheating. The point is that I’ve had more than one heartbreak and that I was always the one who ended up being hurt or left behind.
It took me a long time to realize that we all gravitate toward the type of people we are familiar with. As crazy as it may sound, the wrong guys were my comfort zone and for some reason, I was terrified to break my dating patterns.
As I grew older, I started to realize that this what was happening to me was more than just a coincidence. I was the one who was attracting these guys and I was the one who was choosing them, without even being aware of it. Also, I was the one who was staying in these toxic and manipulative relationships. They all saw something in me that made me a suitable victim for their mind games and emotional manipulation.
It took me many years of introspection and self-reflection, but now I can say I’ve finally reached some kind of conclusion. I think I can finally say why I was choosing the guys that I was choosing and what it was that finally made me stop picking them.
This was hard for me to accept, but the first thing that attracted these guys was my self-esteem—or to be more precise, the lack of it. As far as I can remember, I’ve dealt with my different insecurities. Although I thought these were things people around me didn’t notice, I was obviously wrong. When I was with a handsome guy, I thought I wasn’t pretty enough and when I was with a guy whose main quality was his brain, I thought I wasn’t smart enough.
Either way, I always thought of myself as not good enough. And instead of focusing on my qualities, I chose to focus on my imperfections. I thought I was covering up my insecurities, but men sensed them. They felt that I was someone who was craving their approval and attention. So in the beginning they gave it to me, just to win me over.
Most of the men I’ve dated were actually too good to be true in the beginning. They knew exactly what I needed to hear and they used it. And that was their strategy—once they made me feel wanted and loved, they knew they had me completely and their job was done. After that, I kept doing whatever they wanted just to have their attention and love back.
I was always craving the amount of attention these guys were giving me in the beginning and they saw I became addicted to their approval. Therefore, they could treat me the way they wanted. And most of them did. It was always easy for a guy to convince me I wasn’t worthy and that I should be lucky to have him, no matter how he treated me.
So, if I wanted to break my dating patterns, the first thing I had to work on was my self-esteem. I needed to learn how to love and appreciate myself, before expecting respect from my partner. I can’t say that I’ve accomplished that goal just yet, but I am slowly working on it. I am taking baby steps, but I am teaching myself that it is OK for me not to be perfect and that my flaws are a part of who I am. Once you learn to accept your imperfections, others will follow. And once you learn to love and appreciate yourself, your partner will do the same.
The next thing that brought all the wrong guys to me was my fear of solitude. We live in a society in which a single woman is always looked down upon. I was so terrified of being alone, because I thought I could never be a complete individual without a man by my side. So, I kept settling for guys who didn’t deserve me, just so I could have someone next to me.
Even when I was in a relationship, I lived in a constant fear that the guy would leave me, so I did everything I could to prevent that. I thought I would keep them by my side if I did everything that they wanted and if I became the person they wanted me to be. Of course, the men sensed my desperation and used it every way they could. My fear of solitude was connected with my insecurities, as well; it is not that I had such a horrible time on my own, I was more afraid of people judging me, thinking that nobody wanted me enough to be in a relationship with me. It was only when I realized that being alone and being lonely is not the same thing that I learned to embrace single life.
With time, I’ve slowly learned to appreciate ‘me-time’. It was hard in the beginning, but I gave myself time to get to know myself better and to start enjoying things that make only me happy, without having to compromise with my partner. And once I saw that single life is not all that terrifying and that it is something you should enjoy, my dating life also changed. I wasn’t desperate to get into a relationship anymore and that caused me to be more relaxed and indifferent toward guys, which saved me a lot of emotional pain and many heartbreaks. Also, I wasn’t falling into despair if things didn’t work out with a certain guy—I knew I always had a life I could go back to, with or without him in it.
Once I stopped trying to change the guys around me and when I started working on my inner issues, I broke my old dating patterns. This was when I realized what it is that I need and want from life. And it gave me the ability to recognize the wrong guys from the moment I see them.
I still can’t say I have found the man of my dreams, but I think I am on a good path. At least, I got rid of the wrong guys once and for all and I consider that to be one of my greatest successes.
Although I am still in the process of dealing with my insecurities, I have come a long way. I’ve realized that the guys I was choosing and the way they were treating me were actually reflections of the value I placed on myself. I was constantly involved with guys who were devaluing me because I thought that was the best I deserved. But now, I’ve finally seen my true worth and I am not ready to give a place in my life to anyone who is not ready to appreciate me.