These are hard questions to answer. Most people will blame external factors. They’ll say “Oh my relationships keep ending because I just choose the wrong people” or “there are no good guys out there, they’re all immature”. In a way you’re right. You likely do keep choosing the wrong people. You likely do keep attracting immature guys so it seems like there are no mature guys out there. But the problem really lies within yourself. You attract what you are.
If you’re emotionally immature yourself then you will attract the same. You’ll also be attracted to the same even if you say you’re not. You’ll completely overlook the more emotionally healthy people out there, so it’ll look to you like there aren’t any. If you have narcissistic tendencies, which the rate of that being diagnosed has doubled over the past 10 years, then you might even completely blame other people for what happens in your relationships. You’ll think “I’m mature but I keep dating immature girls, I need to stop doing that and look for mature girls”. On the surface that seems like a healthy way of thinking, but you’re lying to yourself or not aware that you yourself are immature as well.
Most of us are emotionally immature, how could we not be? Our society doesn’t value psychology. It doesn’t value mental health. Many see therapy as something for mentally weak people. Especially with men, this is a problem since we have this definition of masculinity that is completely wrong.
The reason I’m so familiar with the excuses of an emotionally immature person is because I’ve been one for the longest time. On the surface, I looked like I had my shit together. On the surface, I probably seemed mature, but emotional maturity is a whole different thing. It‘s something you have to work towards, as all of us start out immature.
We don’t realize where this comes from since it never gets talked about, but our repressed childhood traumas have a lasting effect on us. They stay with us no matter how hard we repress them. Repressing is why it keeps affecting our relationships.
The scary thing is, even traumatic memories from a very young age that we’ve forgotten because we’ve repressed them can affect your entire life. There’s a great story of in “Drama of the Gifted Child”, which everyone should start out reading to learn about childhood trauma, that illustrates how extreme and long one event in your childhood can affect you as an adult.
In the story, there’s a woman who always has anxiety whenever she’s really successful or really happy, in a relationship or in her career. Obviously, this sabotages all her relationships since every time she’s happy she gets anxious and looks for the danger or the problem. Since she’s always looking for the problem when the relationship is good she always eventually finds one or creates one.
So she goes to a therapist to find out why she has this feeling every time. She thinks it must be a fear of success or something, but that’s not it. After weeks of therapy, they discover that it’s coming from a memory of when she was a little girl of 4 years old. In the memory, she’s on the train with her dad and she’s the happiest she’s ever been in her young life. The window is open and she’s jumping up and down in her seat because she’s so happy and excited. Then right when the train takes a very sharp turn she jumps up and almost gets flung out the window. Her dad grabs her by the legs and basically saves her from falling out of the train.
Because of this, the girl grows up to be a woman that always associates feeling very happy with imminent danger. Which basically makes it impossible for her to be in a happy relationship long term. It didn’t only affect her, it also had an effect on how her father parented. When that happened he thought to himself “I can’t lose sight of her for one second, I always have to pay attention and make sure she’s safe”. When she speaks of her father she mentions how he’s always been controlling with her. He wasn’t like that before but after that event, he changed, subconsciously he thought he had to.
That’s one example of how childhood repressed memories affect us as adults. Another can be something as simple as having an emotionally absent father figure. If you had a dad that was there but never really showed you any physical or verbal affection, it would affect your relationships if you never dealt with it properly. More than likely you’d always be attracted to guys that didn’t give you that much attention because you’re always trying to get that love from someone else. The love that you didn’t receive from your dad.
All of that makes it sound like we have no chance for a happy long-term relationship. And yea, it would be very hard to have one if we never deal with our past.
The great news is that we can work through our past. That alone would have a huge positive effect on our relationships. It would affect how we date, who we date, and really all of our relationships. That’s how important it is.
Actually doing this takes time. It takes a lot of time. There’s no instant solution or quick mind shift that you can do. Even if you intellectually know your past and know all the issues from it, you still haven’t emotionally worked through them. I know how hard that is, especially if you’re like me and have always been awful at expressing and recognizing your own emotions.
I don’t think there’s a one size fits all solution to this and it’s important to remember that you’ll never be “fixed”. You’ll work through the bigger issues and will always have to keep working on it, but it will lead to a more fulfilled life.
I know for myself, it’s changed my life. Even if I’m still near the beginning of working through these issues. I’m not going to lie, it’s extremely hard. Going through past memories you don’t want to think about or feelings that you don’t want is tough. But, it’s the most alive I’ve felt since I was a kid.
What I did to start is I got a therapist, a good one. Really do your research on this as getting a bad therapist is as bad as doing nothing about it. Find someone that clicks with you. For all of you that don’t think you need therapy, especially guys, you do. If you told me a year ago about going to therapy I would’ve laughed and told you that it’s for the mentally weak, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. If you can afford to do it, definitely do it. Even if you only start with once or twice a month.
The other thing you should do, regardless if you get a therapist or not, is to read about childhood trauma and how your past shapes who you are today. One of the best starting books that was recommended multiple times by therapists is Alice Miller’s “Drama of the Gifted Child”. It’s a pretty short read but eye-opening.
If we all start looking at ourselves first when we have relationship problems then we’ll be able to have long-lasting, happy, and passionate relationships. I think that’s really what we all want.”