I swear there’s some divine digital synchronistic undercurrent guiding the interwebz.
And today, it came in the form of a “Psychology Today” piece on how we pick the wrong people for us (right on the heels of my article about how we don’t pick bad people; our approach just needs work). Reviewing my thoughts – I still stand by them – but the article did kinda open my mind a bit to at least trying to see it somebody else’s way.
I mean, shit, I’ve tried weirder things before.
The author posits the Freudian parental thing – that whole idea that mom or dad didn’t impart sufficient validation via oh’s and ah’s over your Crayola masterpieces, so you’ve been looking for that validation in partners ever since and subconsciously choosing peeps who’ll just repeat it, re-affirming your lack of self-worth. It’s not that this isn’t right, to me – it’s more that while the author claims we’re likely seeking someone to “undo the pain of childhood rejections or abandonments”, I feel like the end-goal disappears after adulthood. What’s left is what we know – the Tom ‘n Jerry chase itself, unfolding in our brains. As I’d said in my prior piece, our brains crave familiarity. So, even when it’s chaotic, it’s still more favorable than trying to change. Sure we might want to be changed, but we don’t want to go through the process – just like I’m struggling to go through this ridiculous 21 day challenge to be a human woman with great abs. Unlike tummy exercises, though, it’s made harder in that we dunno how that’d look or where to start. You’d be hard pressed to find a guy like Rob-the-digital-ab-coach cheering you on self acceptance exercises. (“20 more seconds! Love yourself for just 20 more seconds. My self-worth is burning too! Keep going!”) Most of us don’t come with a suggestion-spewing cricket in a tophat, shrinks are expensive, and our brunch crew’s just gonna try to get us drunk and affirm what we wanna hear so we keep repeating the prob.
Funny thing about the crew affirmation phenomenon (which I’ll henceforth refer to using the acronym CrAP) is that if we were self-aware enough, we’d recognize its shortcomings: if getting perpetual validation were the answer to happy relationships and if we didn’t need to change ourselves, we wouldn’t still feel shitty after our friends kept proffering self-worth to us in he-sucks-you-rock fashion or feeling double shitty when we use that confirmation to alter nada. What we end up not-altering is said chase. We don’t really even want the retro-validation mom or pops failed to offer. By now, it’s just about the sweet comfort of our noggin doing Nascar laps on a loop of misery. And that’s why we subconsciously pick people who’ll be tough to prize a head-pat from. Because we know that it’ll never feel the same as the self-object we really wish would be giving it – which gives us an excuse to hop back on that track of pathos with the dangling carrot at our fore that we don’t even really want.
And if we’re shacked up with a fellow pathos addict, that can last a long time.
This sounds kinda derisive, but it’s not really.
It’s just the only thing that people who do this know, until someone makes it click for them that there is another way. If that’s tough to understand, try and imagine that tomorrow aliens came down and were like “Dude, you know there’s another Earth nearby that’s like Hawai’i year round, breatheable air, endless orchards of delicious fruit, zero predator competition, a Four Seasons with four Starbucks in each direction… and like a pressurized astro-bridge that’ll take you there in fifteen minutes? All you hafta to do is acclimate to the new atmosphere (metaphor for habit-changing). Why haven’t you gone yet?” We’d probably say, “Well, shit, man. I didn’t know. I didn’t even think to look.” We probably’d also be skeptical because the concept sounds as foreign as happiness coming from self-change and self-acceptance.
That, plus – ya know – an alien would be saying it.
But, then again, everyone suddenly seems like an alien when they’re speaking truths we don’t agree with.
Or just don’t wanna accept ‘cause change is hard.
And as far as what I accept about this article’s claim? Well, while I’d said that we don’t need to change the “other” and that we don’t pick “wrong” guys, maybe there’s a next-level self-awareness to be attained here. And that’s that if we recognize change is hard enough for us to lapse into douchery (if that’s a tendency for you like it is for me) and emotional self-harm before we even realize it, maybe it’s best to “pick” the kinda people who’d serve as good training wheels for our feels when we hop back in the game. Maybe the better answer is this: If you’ve got your own validation issues, avoid the standoffish sexy James Dean or Marilyn Monroe types romantically for a bit. If they’re chronically sad after a life of disapproving dads or being an orphan, and you’re still sad about your own shiz, it’s like the intimacy version of that whole “two wrongs” thing. I’m not saying those people aren’t good, it’s just not the right first-step if you’re still in a woe cycle – because if you mirror misery, it’s better to steer clear of the miserable on an intimate level until that habit’s broken. When I recognized this in myself, I also realized most of my “type” comes with an easy access flap that leads straight to that habit. It doesn’t mean you hafta be an abstinent hermit. It just means fccking off this notion of “type” enough to give a chance to striking up friendships with the cliff-diving, mountain-climbing, life-lovers who are so secure about themselves, they make you feel that way about yourself too. Befriend them first. Worry about dating them later. That way – if you do – when they become “exes”, they’ll leave you with some knowledge nugget about happiness and self worth.
Which you’ll inevitably and unintentionally pass along to those once lost like you, down the line.
Even compulsive solipsistic writers who live behind twelve padlocks.