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Why We Attract "Control Freaks"

Dear Dating Doctor:

Why do I continually date men who attempt to control me, my thinking and my actions. I convince myself that I will never date another man like that but then I always end up with someone who fits the same mold. Why?

- Controlled

Dear Controlled

As we have grown older, many of us have been exposed to unhealthy, dysfunctional or damaging relationships for much of our adult lives. Whether it was by observing our parents, neighbors or relatives (as divorce rates soared), by watching television, movies and the news or by reading magazines and newspapers, we have been subjected to a significant number of unhealthy relationships (the Clinton's, O.J. and Nicole, Liz Taylor, Roseanne, . . . etc.). This continuous negative programming has caused many of us to develop permanent characteristics in our personalities that drive us to practice self-defeating behaviors. We are either sabotaging our healthy relationships, or maintaining abusive relationships because our internal programming knows no differently.

No one wakes up in the morning and says , "Gee, I hope I get treated poorly today." Nobody leaves work, goes to a social gathering and says, "Aah, I would like to find the biggest jerk in the room as my potential mate." No one goes home and says, "Oh joy, I am only going to get one black eye tonight." This is not a conscious process. This is a learned behavior. Despite a person's best efforts to change and to divert from their past ways, inevitably their on-board computer (their brain) continues to practice what is familiar because it is the only programming it has ever known.

What is control and why do we allow others to take it with us? Control comes from fear, and fear develops from a lack of faith. Think of an aspect of your life in which you place tremendous faith. Do you also fear it with that same intensity? Doubtful. There are two primary fears that we face. First, we are afraid that we will not get something that we want and secondly, we are afraid that we will lose something that we already have. When we don't trust an outcome, we are consumed by fear. This fear drives us to control situations and others, at all costs, in order to guarantee the result that we desire.

In life, we move in the direction of our predominant thought. Thus, your thought must be to meet the type of person that you desire in circumstances that are comfortable for you. Focus on the qualities you are seeking and refuse to deviate from your minimum standards. You may have learned to compromise your happiness in the past, and accept what (and who) you "felt" you deserved, but it's time to change your programming, lose the fear and experience the relationships you deserve.

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