Women always ask me, “Why do I keep dating jerks?” My answer often stuns them. “You’re probably making it happen,” I tell them. Sounds like tough love, and maybe it is. But there’s actually a deeper meaning behind it: We attract what we think we deserve. And what we think we deserve is usually rooted in what we experienced or witnessed in our early childhood development. Here’s how to break the cycle.
1. Recognize your patterns.
Before any true change can happen, you need to recognize your intimacy blocks—the patterns that you keep repeating in your relationships. These often stem from early childhood and are based on either the relationship you had with one of your parents or the relationship that your parents modeled for you. For example, if your father was emotionally unavailable to you (i.e., didn’t make you feel loved, cared for, or supported), this could make you hard-wired to seek an emotionally unavailable man.
Why? You’re subconsciously hoping to get what you didn’t get as a child out of this new relationship in your adulthood. This deep-seated proclivity toward unavailable partners is embedded in your root chakra, which is the first chakra located at the base of your spine that’s associated with instinct, survival, grounding, family, and security. This happens because we are more comfortable with the pain that we know than the pain we don’t know. So we go back to the same type of guy or the same relationship model trying to re-enact our past to fix it, but it never happens.
2. Stop re-enacting the past.
Our inner child re-enacts the past by choosing the same type of partner over and over and being disappointed again and again in the hopes that a breakthrough will happen. He’ll change. She’ll change. It’ll get better. To break this pattern, you have to push through the discomfort of change and the fear of the unknown. The only way for it to get better is to stop hoping that that person will change, and just say no.
That is the real breakthrough—recognizing the pattern and then making a conscious decision not to head down that path again even if it feels comfortable, safe, and familiar. It’s called “growing pains” for a reason—growth is painful. We have to take risks, enter the scary unknown, and stretch ourselves emotionally and spiritually in ways we’ve never done before. It can feel very uncomfortable at first. But the rewards are worth it.
3. Own it.
Own the fact that you are the one bringing the wrong people into your life. Mystery solved. Here’s the thing: Everyone who has come into your life has not only come into your life for a reason but because you attracted him or her to you. No one willingly attracts the cheater, the abuser, or the emotionally unavailable person, but we’re hard-wired on a deep level to attract what we think we deserve and what we know, what we’re used to.
4. Believe you deserve it.
Once you truly believe you are worthy of the love you deserve, you will attract a partner who truly deserves you. Good partners are attracted to women who are confident and have healthy boundaries. Bad partners are attracted to women who are broken inside because they can manipulate and take advantage of them. Fix what is broken, become more self-assured, and love yourself, and that positive energy will attract a more positive person. This is what we call the “law of attraction.” Like attracts like. Until you change the underlying core belief that you don’t deserve the best of the best, you’ll keep dating guys that disappoint.
One way to get there is to take a break from dating to work on you. Build your self-esteem through positive daily affirmations (i.e., “I am beautiful,” “I am worthy”), create a vision board that specifically shows what you want your relationship or life to look like, and use some breathing techniques to move from the left brain state where you’re stuck in your past roles to the right brain state where you feel anything is possible. One breathing technique to try is the breath of arousal used in Tantra. It activates your third chakra, which is the chakra that gives you a sense of power, self-esteem, and the willpower to say no to unhealthy things.
To do the breath of arousal, sit up tall, place your hands on your navel, and stick your tongue out . Pant like a dog in and out of your mouth, pumping your stomach muscles back and forth in time with your breathing. With every exhale pull your bellybutton to the back of your spine to empty your belly of air. With every inhale, allow your belly button to expand and let your stomach fill up like a balloon.
Do this as rapidly as you can. It might even feel like hyperventilating, but it increases your metabolism and builds your inner fire. Try to do this for seconds to one minute and see how energized, relaxed, and refreshed you feel, and notice the sense of grounding and confidence emanating from your core.
5. Open your heart.
Everyone says they have an open heart, but is it truly open? You’re probably still thinking, “Yes!” But consider this: If you’re stuck in a relationship where you’re not getting what you need, why are you still in it? It’s because you are afraid to leave and you’re not open to change. To open your heart, you have to get past that fear and be open to the unknown.
One of my teachers taught me a meditation called the “Tantric Heart.” Visualize that your soul is the queen of your life and her throne is your heart. Your heart is supposed to make all of the decisions in your life from fearlessness. But your mind is the frightened servant that guards the door to your heart. If we were hurt in the past, over time our minds lock that door out of fear. To open that door—and open your heart—you need to get past the fear.
Use a daily affirmation with breath work to open your heart chakra. Take a deep, long, and slow inhale and say, “Inhaling, I soften my heart to receive love.” When you exhale slowly, say, “Exhaling, I let go of fear.” Start your day with five minutes of this and you will feel a change. Other people will see a change in you, too. Don’t be surprised if you attract a totally different kind of person—someone who is ready to be more intimate and vulnerable. If you have been stuck in a bad relationship, maybe the wheels will fall off and you’ll move on in a healthier direction.