Monday, August 25, 2008

Same Man, Different Body

Terry,

I love your advice and sensational blog and feel lucky to have attracted this site into my(almost)daily life.

Could you give your opinion on the man that is emotionally distant. I come across this guy a lot..and I was married to one for 15 years...great father & husband..things fantastic..until there was any sort of conflict...where he was unable to express how he was feeling..and stonewalled. I felt not listened to.

This can be the communication style of an introvert, and not necessarily an uncaring guy...but difficult to deal with constructively or to promote ongoing intimacy. I seem to attract these types of men.

How to deal.....?

-Sian


Hello, Sian-

Thanks for the kind words. I truly appreciate them.

I, too, used to attract the same kind of guy again and again, and I came to the conclusion there was one major payoff for this:

I knew exactly what to expect from these men.

This isn't to say that I liked attracting the same kind of guy over and over. In fact, it was really quite painful. But it was a pain I was used to, as opposed to risking some other pain I had no experience with. It was a matter of "the devil you know is better than the one you don't," I guess.

And you're right. Some men are introverted instead of uncaring, but being in a day-to-day situation with someone who can't -- or won't--express his feelings is a serious pain in the neck.

Attracting guys who stonewall or are emotionally distant seems to happen to those of us who grew up in homes where certain things were not discussed or were supposed to be taken for granted ("Of course I love you. I gave birth to you, didn't I?" or, "Of course I like the dinner. I'm eating it, aren't I?").

I'm not a psychologist, but I've heard psychologists say that women tend to attract men with similar traits to their father's. Same goes for men. They attract women like their mothers. More important, they're attracted to these people.

And I've seen it over and over again. I heard Pam Anderson, a woman who has suffered several tough marriages, say on TV recently that she attributes her relationship issues to "Daddy Drama," or something to that effect.

I changed my own pattern of attracting the same guy over and over by very consciously and methodically picturing and feeling myself with the type of man who was exactly the opposite: A man who communicated his likes and dislikes, who complimented me, who loved me and let me know it through his words and actions. A man who liked and respected women. A man who knew how to have a good laugh.

I did this by writing out very specifically on paper what I wanted and bringing it to life in my imagination. It was not easy at first, but each time I tried it did get easier. The details began to fill themselves in. It helped me to listen to music that got me going while I put myself in an imaginary scene with a man who embodied the qualities I wanted.

If you try this, you'll find you're reprogramming your subconscious, convincing it that not only are you capable of such a relationship, but that you're already in one. And then, when that person who shows up who "fits the bill," not only will he feel familiar to you, you'll find the relationship takes off without a lot of drama.

Now, if at any point you find yourself bored or turned off by this communicative individual you're bringing to life in your imagination, stop and ask yourself why. A good friend of mine, for example, found men who were capable of showing real emotion (i.e., crying) repellent.

If this is true of you, ask yourself what turns you off about a man who cries (or raves about the way you dress or grow vegetables or deliver a joke). Do you harbor the belief that real men should be strong and silent? What's the payoff for that belief? And what is the cost (maybe you're stuck with a man who can be hardhearted and oblivious to your feelings, as well as his own)?

If you face your fears about waking up every morning to a man who likes to talk and laugh with you, who is willing to resolve a disagreement by facing it head on, who isn't afraid to make you the center of his life, who wraps you in his arms when you come home to him at night, you can overcome those fears. Even better, you can attract that kind of man.