Getting Past the Victim Mentality
I am at a weird age, where half of my friends are getting married and are in committed relationships, whereas other half are focusing on finding “the one” in the arena of romance and love.
Unlike college, most of the people that I hang out with now are in their late twenties consumed by the idea that if they don’t find someone (now!), they will end up doomed to be alone forever.
“Give up and just resign myself to a life of loneliness and disappointment” was the exact phrasing from one of my colleagues when I asked about his dating life.
Most of them tend to complain that:
“There aren’t enough good people left.”
“Everyone is in it to play games.”
(insert other pessimistic comments)
I can confirm that there are a handful of people that tend to take advantage of others in a relationship. People that come into our lives at moments of vulnerability and hurt us, leaving emotional scars and baggage that we carry along into our future relationships.
But can it also be that we are consistently continuing to choose people who are wrong for us?
With access to thousands of potential mates on dating apps, we open ourselves up to thousands of heartbreaks. Led by emotions and passion, we let our walls down and share intimate parts of our lives without ever acknowledging if their values and principles will align with our own. And while there is objectively nothing wrong with casual relationships, too many consecutive bad relationships make us bitter towards the idea of love and existence of other good people for us — leading many towards hopelessness and desperation.
We live in a world that idolizes all of the wrong things — money, fame, popularity, prestige and titles. Instead of holding our potential partners to the standard that match our lifestyle, we tend to focus on superficial things, such as how popular they are, how attractive they look, what type of car they own, and how much is in the banks.
We all do it or have done it at some points in our lives. So, when that said person hurts us in return because they didn’t meet our idealized expectations or didn’t change for us, we become emotionally scarred. We start thinking that we are incapable of sustaining long-term relationships because there is something inherently wrong with us or with others. Either ways, we rely on blaming as our defense mechanism.
“And what is the right woman, the right man? Someone who wants to go in the same direction as you do, someone who is compatible with your views and your values — emotionally, physically, economically, spiritually.” ― Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship — Toltec Wisdom Book
When we start vetting individuals based on their character and integrity, instead of things that society over-values, we find ourselves opening up to new possibilities again.
Yes, initial attraction is very important, but I have found myself being attracted to people that literally did not meet any of my superficial vision of what my perfect partner would look like. Interestingly enough, those were the best types of relationships that I have had over the years. I no longer focused on their looks or professions. Instead, I started analyzing their core values, the ability to hold mature conversations, long-term future goals match, the intentionality behind actions, and the level of compassion and respect in conversation with others, etc. My attraction towards individuals that are led by principles grew more intensely than I could have ever imagined.
For validation, I went around and asked people what made them fall in love with their significant others and these are the few answers I received:
“I had never dated anyone like him before, he was a lot shorter than guys I usually go for, but he was also the most respectful. He took the time to understand my past traumas and emotional triggers, never judging me for it.”
“Not only would he listen to my problems, but he would go out of his way to come up with a solution. I used to work multiple jobs at the time we started seeing each other. I wouldn’t have time to grab lunch or eat at times. When he noticed that, he started bringing me food or got them delivered to my work.”
“He so intensely cared about social causes that he would spend hours researching on how to improve them. Despite having a full time job, he would find time to volunteer and give back to under-served communities.”
“I knew she was the one from just the way she would look at me. No one had ever given me such compassionate looks before.”
“She would prioritize spending time with family along with her career instead of going out all the time.”
These little traits are easily overlooked by people attracted to someone for superficial reasons. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in someone’s outer beauty, while dismissing their inner traits. But ultimately, these characteristics hold a lot more power in terms of sustaining long-term attractiveness.
On the contrary, many of us tend to be afraid of approaching universally attractive people due to the fear of rejection and us being “out of their league.” While this fear is very fair — it’s important to keep in mind that good looks do not guarantee compatibility and good character. Going into a conversation with the desire to understand their personalities without getting too hung up on the end goal of impressing them, eases a lot of this initial nervousness.
Instead of victimizing ourselves or giving up hope in the potential for good future relationships, maybe we ought to look at our dating habits without holding judgment. It isn’t easy to let go of past patterns, but by doing so — we might just be opening ourselves up for the right person.