Dysfunctional Dating Pattern #1

Posted on May 24, 2010

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Being in my line of work as a dating and relationship coach, I am privy to some of the most common dating disasters women make. Add to this not settling down until I was in my 30′s and you can just imagine the amount of  material I have on this subject.

One of the first steps I have each client take is to identify her dysfunctional dating patterns. Over the months, I’ve started compiling the most common ones (read: writing them down on post-it notes and sticking them on my bulletin board) and now I’ve got a nice, big long list of ‘em.

Identifying a pattern isn’t always easy. In fact, without an objective party to help you discern it, it’s almost damn near impossible. So I thought I’d spell some of these dysfunctional patterns out for you.

I hope that, through these explanations and examples, you will be able to better see the dating disasters towards which you have a tendency to gravitate so that you can stop them already and find a really great relationship.

Dysfunctional Dating Pattern #1: Rescuing the Deeply Wounded Man

An old friend of mine, who worked for several years as a paramedic, told me that he got into this line of work because he had an urge to help people. Another friend of mine works tirelessly in the inner city schools of Atlanta, trying to help kids in poverty get an excellent education. A colleague of mine rescues abused dogs and finds them good homes. A woman I used to volunteer with in Portland spends long days advocating for the preservation of old growth forests.

A lot of us have a strong desire to help the less fortunate living things on this planet. Without all of these amazing activists, our world be a far less healthy and happy place.

But ladies, please. Your relationship is so not the place to play out your need to “save” others. Volunteer for a non-profit, change your career to a more service-oriented one, do one altruistic act per day. But for the love of God, leave the deeply wounded man to his therapist!  (If he’s even insightful enough to realize he needs one).  Getting involved with this kind of guy is only a recipe for disaster.

How can you tell if you are, in fact, drawn to the deeply wounded man? Think about your last (or current) relationship. Then ask yourself:

Did this man use a hurt from his past (an abusive childhood, a bad marriage, etc) to justify his unsavory behavior?

If the answer is yes, then he is a deeply wounded man. And if you continue to allow his “deep wounds” to interfere with your happiness, you are in trouble.

Let’s put things in perspective: You are not an emotional paramedic, you are not a therapist, you are not, I repeat, you are not a relationship Jesus. There is only one healthy way to deal with a deeply wounded man and that is to let him go so that he can (hopefully) get the help he needs.

Perhaps you think this sounds harsh. Let me ask you this. Have you ever been hurt? Wounded, perhaps?

Exactly. We all have, in some way or another. Some of us chose to deal with our past hurts, heal them and move on and others chose to use their past hurts as excuses for their current unhealthy behaviors. Those who use their wounds as excuses for not committing, for engaging addictions, or for abusing others are not worth your time.

The deeply wounded man is only interested in his own agenda and HE WILL HURT YOU.

Let me share with you the story of K. I dated K. for three years. He epitomized the deeply wounded man and oh how I wanted to save him.

Abandoned by his biological mother when he was two (she was an alcoholic), K. had a rough childhood. According to him, when he was growing up, he had terrible acne and no girls ever wanted to date him.

He developed several addictions, including excessive alcohol use and chain-smoking. In college, he decided he was going to turn his barren dating life around and, with the help of Neil Strauss*, learned how to manipulate women into sleeping with him. After college, he married a woman with a severe mental illness who was suicidal. When I met K., he was divorced and was financially struggling with thousands and thousands of dollars in credit card debt.

Now, any woman in her healthy mind would have seen all of this baggage and run the other way.

Not me. I jumped right in.

Every time K. would do something awful, he would resort to his past wounds to excuse his behavior. After awhile, when my friends would point out what a louse he was, I would resort to his wounds as well: But he had an alcoholic mom! But he was abandoned at age 2! But he lived his teenage years in isolation!

K. told me that he never wanted to get married. Even though I did, I used his wounds to excuse his fear of commitment. But he grew up with such dysfunction! But he’s scarred because of his own divorce! But…

You get the point. Three years later, K. had cheated on me with several other women. When he was still being unfaithful after we moved in together, I finally got a clue. I finally got out.

But it took me a long time to put that relationship, with all of its horrible dysfunction, out of my psyche. It took me awhile to heal and move on, and in truth, forgive myself for being with such a creep for so long.

This is what the deeply wounded man will do-he will deeply wound you.

When you start to notice the red flag-a man using a past hurt to excuse his present day behavior-you have before you a deeply wounded man. Which means only one thing: It’s time to move on. Healthier, and much better men, await.

*Neil Strauss is the author of a lame book called The Game. Basically, it’s a manual on how to manipulate women, how to play on their insecurities in order to get sex.