Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why Do I Keep Getting Involved With The Same Kind Of Person?

I've been asked this many times by sponsees, and it has come up again recently. Women will separate from a lover, husband, or boyfriend, and within a short time, find themselves attracted to another man with all of the same problems. Why does this happen?

(This doesn't apply only to women; an Al-Anon friend once told me a story of her brother being at a work party with about 200 people, and the one woman he caught sight of from across the room, and to whom he felt inexorably drawn to go introduce himself, was a carbon copy, in her unhealthiness, of his ex-wife. He was horrified, my friend was amazed, I felt a little shiver of fear ripple up my back, hearing this story. Oh, the hideous power of our insanity!)

I've heard, and read about, many explanations for this pattern. It's been suggested that we define "love" a certain way, and we seek out those who fit our definition. I believe this has a certain truth, because we begin to define love from whatever model our parents demonstrate: if our parents are cold, withholding, punishing and verbally abusive, guess what kind of partner we will be drawn to? Ghastly, but true, unless we've had some kind of therapy, in which we've sought to redefine "love" for ourselves.

Another explanation, which I bucked against with all my strength when it was first offered to me, is this one: We will be attracted to those who are at the same level of health/dysfunction we are. So if I've never had any spiritual growth, to change not only how I see the world, but also how I behave in my world and my relationships, then I will seek out those at my same level, because that's where I feel comfortable.

That comfort comes because I know how to deal with it - I can do it with my eyes closed, hands tied behind my back, half my mind otherwise engaged, and never miss a beat. It's an old familiar tune, I know all the steps, and have danced to it for years. I may not even like the music, but I know the lyrics off by heart.

Before Al-Anon, I used to feel most comfortable with those who were at about my same level of craziness.  Now that I've been working on myself for many years, (sometimes with great success, and other times feeling as if I'm marching in place for months on end,) I feel more comfortable with people who have recovery, self-knowledge, and lead an examined life.


  1. Your last sentence says it all. I read a book one time that said, "Show me three of your closest friends and I will show you who you are." It is so true. As we grow, so does our self-esteem, and that can completely change the person we used to be - for the better of course!

  2. You answered you own question quite eloquently. I heard all the same things..

    Gosh the other month again dated the wrong man; but got out in only 5 weeks.. and was very aware that 1 strike; 2 strikes; 3 strikes.. he was OUT.. he definitely was someone that was triggering CODIE in me from the start and than I saw how he was... and 3 strikes he was OUT.

    I'm recognizing the signs early.. from 1st phone conversation.

    All the men I've been were highly functional; articulate; own their own homes; good/great jobs; great cars (not that that matters); and creative in one way or another; music; cooking whatever..

    But all have addictions; workaholic; alcholic; overdoing prescription drugs (twice); and last was a sex ohoilic.. and that is not funny. It is a real thing. so sad. Another addict.

    My own fault.. I have to find a way to not attract them and start getting attracted to NORMAL MEN.

  3. Good post. I think that I recognize in others what I have (or don't have in myself). I sought to fill the hole in me with those who also were deficient in so many ways. True codie behavior. There is a way to break that cycle though and recognition is a good start.