Is He Your Soulmate?

Dear Loveawake,

Why do I always fall for guys who are unavailable? Ten years ago I was in love with a man, but the relationship didn’t work out and I never got over him. Last year I fell for a guy even though he got another woman’s phone number on our first date. Did I walk away? No − I spent months trying to get him to come back. Most recently, I met a very attractive man who I can’t get out of my head even though he has a girlfriend. I don’t trust my judgment where men are concerned. Why do I keep falling for the wrong ones?

  • LFL

Dear LFL,

Although it might seem like chasing the wrong guys is the problem, I suspect it’s actually a symptom of a deeper issue. The relationships we have in our youth influence how we relate to people in our adult lives. Perhaps you are trying to fix a past relationship by chasing after unavailable men in the present. Or maybe you’re hoping to recreate the deep connection you had with the love you lost 10 years ago. These men could be a symbol of something that’s missing from your life.

Somewhere in your subconscious, a little voice may be rationalizing that if you can get the attention of men in the present you will feel better about a disappointing relationship from years ago. On the bright side, there is a way to deal with this. But it takes some time to fix.

First, you need to figure out what wound you are trying to repair by proxy. Write down anything that comes to mind, whether it’s the day little Johnny said you had cooties, the time your dad forgot to pick you up from school, or your breakup with your boyfriend 10 years ago. Also, write down absolutely anything you feel is missing from your life. Adventure, romance and dancing are perfectly acceptable, but so is something like Silly Putty!

Once you have these two lists, ask yourself if there are better ways to address your issues and bring the missing delights back into your life. This exercise can help you find self-acceptance, which is a vital ingredient in healthy relationships. And if you can find happiness in activities other than dating, you may find that your life feels less empty without a man.

By making space for healing, you will also be making space for “Mr. Right.” Create a life that you love, and the love of your life will appear.

Dr. Loveawake,

I’m so confused because my husband and I never fight − ever. And while I feel this is a good thing, when I watch self-help talk shows, read magazines or talk to my friends, the consensus seems to be that our lack of conflict is unhealthy. I suppose this means couples are supposed to argue. However, one time I tried starting an argument and we both just ended up laughing. What is your perspective?

  • Ashley M.

Dear Ashley,

With the abundance of self-help advice in mainstream media these days, you may find yourself being kind or compassionate to your partner only to wonder if you are really being “co-dependent.”

It is understandable how reading a magazine or watching a talk show could make you wonder if your relationship falls short. However, YOU are your own relationship expert. Trust your intuition and common sense. Don’t let outside “experts” (be they professionals in the media or well-intentioned friends, co-workers or relatives) convince you that an aspect of your marriage you enjoy is actually a problem.

Since you asked for my perspective, here it is: My guess is you and your husband probably have disagreements that never result in fights because one or both of you possess the ability to facilitate productive discussions, diffuse arguments and resolve conflict.

There is a popular belief that arguments can bring a couple closer together. This may be true in some circumstances, but arguments can also lead to unproductive conflict patterns that tear at the integrity of the relationship and, in extreme cases, lead to violence.

Ashley, you and your husband have the greatest coping skills of all: humor and laughter. And this ability to laugh together can have tremendous benefits in your marriage. It is a marvelous gift that releases chemicals in your brain that will enhance your day and reduce your stress.

Laughter and humor are vital to a healthy marriage, both emotionally and physically. Laughter reduces stress and tension, stimulates your immune system, increases the production of natural painkillers in your blood, decreases systemic inflammation, lowers blood pressure, and lifts your spirits.

The ability to see the humor in a tense situation brings couples closer together. Couples who can laugh at themselves or their situation usually feel stronger when problems arise and are better able to prevent disagreements from escalating. You don’t have time to argue because you’re too busy laughing… and that is a good thing!