|"Because when pain has been intertwined with love and closeness,
it's very difficult to believe that love and closeness can be
experienced without pain."
-Gloria Steinem, "Revolution from Within."
If you tend to attract men who disappoint you (by cheating on
you, not showing up when they say they will, or just refusing to
get off the couch), you may be confusing love with pain.
So many of us have been brought up to believe that pain is
normal, even expected, in a love relationship. Without it, the
relationship seems flat, boring. We crave drama. (Why is it that
so many women have great sex after a fight with a significant
A happy, loving relationship eludes us because we don't
recognize it when we see it, or because we simply believe it's
not possible (News Flash: According to a recent Today Show, all
men lie. All of them! I wasn't aware that men have a monopoly on
lying or other bad behavior. I know some women who are
breathtaking liars. Don't you?).
According to the media, men are incapable of remembering
birthdays, being monogamous, getting through a weekend unless
they're transfixed before a marathon of football games. Women
internalize these messages: That's the way men are. That's the
way life is. Get over it.
And while the media is happy to sell us the myth of the
unattainable happy relationship, some of us have come to believe
in it because of our own experiences.
Some of us:
(a) Had parents who treated each other indifferently, (b) had
parents who outright hated each other, (c) had fathers who
ignored us as children, (d) had a parent who suffered from
alcoholism, (e) had mothers who would rather have been doing
something else, or (f) had a parent who suffered from a mental
And so, we learned to associate love with pain. It's all we knew.
Others among us grew up in perfectly happy homes with parents
who loved each other and delighted in us, but we still managed
(a) Internalize negative messages we heard from our friends'
parents who were unhappily married, or
(b) Internalize negative messages we saw elsewhere (I know a
woman who, during her impressionable teenage years, babysat for
a couple who gave each other the silent treatment and expected
her to relay messages. She also babysat for another family,
where the father once came home early and started reading a porn
As a result of this programming, we set low bars for the
behavior we'll accept from boyfriends or husbands. Hey, it's
better than being alone, right?
If you're putting up with substandard behavior from men, make
decision to stop. Refuse to date anybody until you attract a man
who makes your happiness a priority. Trust me; such a man will
come into your life and stay there.
Treat him as you have come to expect him to treat you, which
means with affection, respect, and consideration. Does this
sound boring to you? If it does, please examine your feelings
about relationships and see if they haven't determined the kind
of men you attract.
You see, once you stop dating men who disappoint you but excite
you, you can make room for a guy who loves you the way you
deserve to be loved--and who excites you. Love and excitement
are important, but if they're accompanied by pain, something's
wrong. You'll never be truly happy with a guy who lets you down.
Ask yourself, "Where did I ever get the idea that love has to
Give yourself time to come up with the answers. Take stock of
whether your relationship is worth saving. If you speak up, will
it make a difference? If not, are you willing to make room for a
man who will love you and make you laugh instead of cry for a
About the author:
Terry Hernon MacDonald is the author of "How to Attract and
Marry the Man of Your Dreams." Sign up for free dating tips at
http://www.marrysmart.com . Check out her blog at
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