By Adam D. Blum, MFT, Gay Therapy Center Founder and Director
Do you find yourself repeating the pattern of dating guys who aren’t nice people? Why do you keep doing that?
There are many possible answers to that question, but I’ll give you the dynamic I see most commonly in my psychotherapy practice.
We often are drawn to unkind people because our parents weren’t so kind to us. In other words, they feel familiar.
For most of us, Mommy and Daddy are the first people we fall in love with. Have you ever noticed how passionately a two-year-old loves his parents? To him they are like kings and queens.
For toddlers, parents are magic people who know how to do everything, even how to tie a shoe. There is no one he would rather spend time with. He can’t get enough of them. He is sad when they leave for work, and thrilled when they come home.
It sounds like how we all feel in the first weeks of falling in love, doesn’t it?
Even though we think Mommy and Daddy are amazing, sometimes they are mean, rejecting, neglecting, or scary. If one of your parents had a repeated tendency to behave that way, then there may an unconscious script about love running through your psyche that sounds something like:
“Love is great, but you can’t expect it to reliably feel safe and good.”
Familiarity is Cozy
When you are out there dating you may be unconsciously looking for a connection that feels like the relationship that first taught you about love. Why shouldn’t we go for what is familiar? It is what we know, and that is comforting on a certain level.
Some of you may say, “My parents didn’t hit me, they provided for all my material needs, and they never missed a parent-teacher conference. Plus, that was a long time ago.”
That’s great. But if they were unable to consistently provide the emotional holding you needed, it had an impact. And it shows up in adult love. If you don’t believe that we could take a stroll through any psychology research library and look at tens of thousands of research studies which could be summarized by the following sentence: “Parenting styles have tremendous influence on us.”
So What Can I Do About This?
Well, we heal through relationships. You will have more of what you want in life when you have a loving and gentle relationship with yourself, and with others.
To experience more loving relationships with others you can also learn to choose your dates more carefully, and to always screen for kindness and compassion.
But, you say, the nice guys aren’t hot. They seem boring to me. I’m just not drawn to them. It’s the bad boys that get me going.
Yes, it makes sense that you wouldn’t have an erotic charge with someone that doesn’t match your underlying sexual script.
And yet you already know that great sex with a guy who is mean to you does not add up to a good relationship experience.
In fact, dating a mean guy is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health and self-esteem. I see it every day. It takes a long time to get over loving a critical, emotionally unavailable man who doesn’t apologize for hurting you.
It is extremely hard—usually impossible—to teach a mean man the skill of empathy. However, it is much easier to teach a nice guy how to be mean in bed with you.
So take a second look at the kind guys. Teach him what you like in bed. (Yes, it is teachable.) And then you will be dating a good guy who is only “bad” when it’s fun to be bad.
That man could just be your husband from heaven.
For more information about how we help LGBT individuals and couples please visit our website at www.thegaytherapycenter.com. We offer services in our San Francisco, New York, or Los Angeles offices or by Skype or phone worldwide.