Want to make sure you keep dating the wrong men? Keep blaming them for your lousy love life.
The other afternoon I went on a date for a friend. Specifically, I was an extra in his video thesis and had to pretend to be on a date at a restaurant. At first, it looked promising. The guy I was paired with was cute and seemed smart and funny. As we talked it became pretty clear that we had a lot in common and even better, there was some real chemistry between us.
"This is great," I thought. "Art will imitate life! This is my reward for being a selfless friend!"
About 20 minutes later our relationship was in serious trouble and 40 minutes later we were through. Emotionally at least -- we still had to cohabit a table since neither of us were allowed to leave the scene.
What had he done to lose me forever? Turns out he was a Victim. Once we'd established how each of us got roped into the project and did some light flirting we started to talk about what we do for a living. It turns out that my onscreen boyfriend was currently unemployed. Now in this economy who isn't unemployed at one point or another? Unemployment in and of itself is not quite the deal breaker it used to be.
What sent my red flags flying was the fact that --according to him-- every job he'd been let go from was due to somebody else's fault. We all have bad luck, and maybe this guy really was the innocent victim of several dishonest people at several different companies but, I find it pretty hard to believe that one person can attract so much undeserved backstabbing (his term.)
But let's go with his theory, that he had been misled and duped and then let go for no good reason at three different companies. How does sharing this with a complete stranger help his cause? Complaining to your friends is one thing, but to someone you'd just met and were hoping to see more of? Is there any benefit to it?
Not really. At best it inspires a few moments of sympathy. At worst you become a walking cautionary tale. Neither option is likely to land you a date.
Now let's look at the more likely scenario: that my temporary boyfriend may have had a bit of bad luck initially but by now was more than likely the cause of his own misery. Not only was he having to suffer losing job after job, it was pretty clear that he was clueless as to what part he played in his continuing streak of bad luck. It was also pretty clear that his luck wouldn't be changing anytime soon.
Playing the blame game is a very subtle yet powerful form of procrastination. It puts off any sort of self-analysis, keeping us from getting at the root cause of our problems and making changes that can have a positive impact on our lives.
This is especially true in romance. Want to make sure you keep dating the wrong men? Keep blaming them for your lousy love life. Yes, men can be jerks and we all seem to have our own particular flavor of jerk we're drawn to again and again.
For me personally, I was a sucker for emotionally unavailable men. I dated one for years. It was so easy to blame the fact that I couldn't get him to commit on the fact that he was still scarred by his first few girlfriends who'd cheated on him, on his wanting to have a successful career before he could commit to me, on the fact that he was scared of real love. (I'm cringing just writing that.)
I wasted YEARS of my life on this guy, blaming him for where he failed the relationship instead of taking a good, hard look at myself. After all, I must have been getting SOMETHING out of this arrangement for it to have lasted for so long. The truth is, I was just as bad a commitment-phobe as he was. I felt unworthy of being in a solid relationship, so I chose someone who'd never give one to me. I could give, give, give without the threat of having that love fully returned and, even better, I was with someone who let me play the Victim.
Even if at first you can't see how you're responsible for your own misery, just shifting your focus from blaming him/her creates space for new awareness and understanding to eventually enter. This is important if your goal really is to find someone to be in a relationship with.
Once you stop expending energy on blaming the other person you start to take some of your power back. After all, if you're not the victim then you must be to some small degree the perpetrator. And if you're the perpetrator you have the power to make the bad stop.
Think about it, wouldn't you rather be with someone who sees themselves as having an impact and a say in where their life is heading? Would you ever want to tie yourself to someone who seems to be at the mercy of the entire rest of the world? People are making the same judgment call when they're listening to your stories, so choose wisely how you want to cast yourself.
As for my clueless date, I have to say I was more than a little relieved to "break up" with him although I do feel bad that he never seemed to understand where the mood shift had come from. No doubt he's blaming me in some way. Painting me as the flakey Hollywood type or a tease. (Which is the another downside of playing the blame game. People can't help but wonder in the back of their minds how they're going to be portrayed in your dramas.)
So keep your chin up and take your power back. Even if it's to claim responsibility for a huge fuck up, at least others will see you as being in control of your life and not some helpless puppet at the mercy of anyone who happens to take a fancy to it.