Are you dating the same guy in different bodies?

Portia NelsonYou may be familiar with the poem “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: Autobiography in Five Short Chapters” by Portia Nelson (pictured at right). In the poem, Ms. Nelson concisely illustrates how we make choices, have an unpleasant experience, and blame others. Then we learn from our experiences, take responsibility for our choices, and ultimately make different ones. I think it applies not only to life in general, but to dating.

How is this like dating? Have you found that sometimes you’re attracted to the same kind of guy, perhaps with behaviors similar to your ex? Then you’re upset that the guys treat you like your ex treated you. And you blame them. The cycle continues. Until you wake up to your part in the repetition.

You have probably heard the oft-quoted line, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results*.” It’s that way with dating. We’re drawn to certain characteristics in a man that seem familiar to us, no matter how dysfunctional. At least we are if we are unaware of how and why we keep dating the same guy in a different body over and over again. He’s attractive to us because he feels so comfortable. In fact, sometimes we may actually utter, “It felt like we’d known each other a long time.” Or, “It just felt right.”

If we aren’t conscious, we’ll keep walking down the same sidewalk and falling in the same hole (dating the same kind of guy who treats us the same way our ex did). And we blame the guys for being losers, jerks, players, cads. It’s not our fault!

Until one day, we get frustrated having fallen in the same hole once again! We know this time it is our fault, but it doesn’t help lessen the pain. So we keep dating. Drat — once again we find ourself in the same hole (with another guy who is self-absorbed, inconsiderate, emotionally unavailable, or worse). This time we know it is our fault. We look inside, self-reflecting, asking why we keep choosing to go out with guys who have similar patterns. Maybe we get some counseling to clear it up. Our eyes are opened.

We continue to date. Now, however, we’ve become more discerning. We begin to ask key questions before we even meet the potential date. We know how to spot the patterns that have kept us stuck in bad relationships in the past. We say “no” more often to those who seem so familiar, but we know by what they say on the phone they would not be right for the new us.

And finally, we meet a guy who has none (or very few) of the familiar faults. He treats us respectfully, kindly, lovingly, appreciatively. We love being with him and he with us. We have walked down a new street.

* (This is attributed to various folks, including Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.)

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5 responses to “Are you dating the same guy in different bodies?”

  1. Bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    Wow, this is so true! I always seem to wind up with emotionally unavailable guys who are prone to “extracurricular activities” with others, (putting it kindly). I hate this, but every time I think the new guy is different from the ones that came before him and every time he never is. The trouble is, I can never spot the users before I’ve become attached to them. Therapy sounds good to me…

    Maybe you could do a column on how to spot emotionally unavailable and/or cheating men before you get involved with them, a sort of tip sheet or something. I know I could use one.

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  2. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Hi Bookyone:

    I did write one on “Emotional unavailability”

    Unfortunately, I still don’t know clear signs. But the article I linked to has some ideas.

  3. LA Avatar

    EUMs (Emotional Unavailable Male) are pretty easy to spot. First of all they come on very strong and within 60 days you are the love of their life. They shower you with phone calls, gifts, trips, they want you to cohabitate, and then . . . poof. They NEVER follow through with promises, can never be reached by phone, never call when they say they will, and basically create so many boundaries it is maddening. It is the classis, Here Kitty Kitty, Go Away Kitty Kitty. They say I love you, but, . . . it gets very tiring. There are many books are Emotional Unavailability. Check on Amazon (A good one is by Byne Collins). However, you must remember your part in the dance. Are you a passive avoider, are you afraid of giving yourself to someone? It is a complex and frustrating situation. I think most males are unavailable. They are either too busy with work, their play, their dogs, blah, blah (I call it the Divine Busy). Especially at this age. Men who have been avoiders their entire life will finally declare, when they are in their sixties, (and already breaking down physically) that they are NOW ready for a relationship. Whoo Hoo!! Let’s break out the balloons. Now that you are ready for a live in caregiver you want a relationship! I am ready for something real. I am so tired of deception and the lies. Most men I meet online are filled with deception, or they have the mindset of a 20 something, or they are sexual freaks. (I had one guy tell me “I want to bind your hands and paddle your bottom with a leather paddle”. I replied, “Gee, are you going to put an apple in my mouth and will you be wearing a Zorro costume whilst doing the paddling?” Dude, not a good thing to reveal on the first date.) I don’t know. Help me out here people.

  4. Bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    Thanks, I think I will check this link out.

    LA, wow, it sounds like we have been dating the same guys. Like I said on another thread, where ARE the nice 40-something single guys who aren’t commitment-phobic? I’d even go as high as 50-someting, but, no, I’m not signing on to be anyone’s caretaker at this time in my life. At least not before I’ve gotten a few good years out of them. 🙂

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  5. Gatti Avatar

    With one exception, my major relationships (two marriages, two long term partners) were with control freaks (also my first teenage boyfriend, which probably kick-started the whole thing). The one that wasn’t, my second husband, was also the one that lasted the longest. But all were emotionally available in their way.

    One thing that confounded me was the slip back into control-freak-ism with the most recent ex. What was my state of mind that I would return to that after so many years? Some sort of guilt? Or did it seem, on some very deep level, like a place I was comfortable with? In any event I’ve learned something and the sweetie is not controlling, far from it. He is also amazingly, astoundingly, thrillingly emotionally available.

    I’ve had my fling with emotional unavailable twice a few years back and both times the experience just about finished me, in one case quite nearly literally, so I don’t do that anymore. Not available? Neither am I!

    And bookyone, 50-something is quite cool, don’t write them off so quickly! All the guys I recently dated were 50-something (one had just turned 60) and they were all handsome, interesting and, as far as I could tell from casual observation, bodily…um…fully functioning. I’ve specialized in somewhat younger men in the last 20 years, so it was actually interesting to be on a date with someone older than me.

    (For the record, my guy will be 50 in June, making him four years younger than me and officially the oldest younger man I’ve ever been with!)