Attractions of Deprivation


Attractions of Deprivation

Do you have a string of romantic disasters trailing behind you? Do you often fall in love with the wrong person and your passion turns into devastation when you see your relationship inevitably fall apart? What gives? Don’t give up. You aren’t destined to die alone or in a dysfunctional relationship. You may be suffering from attractions of deprivation. The Imago model developed by Harville Hendrix states that we are attracted to those who embody the worst elements of our childhood caregivers, our parents or whoever raised us.

We have unresolved issues surrounding abuse, betrayal, neglect and manipulation from these caregivers. We desire to heal these wounds, subconsciously, and so seek out a mate with these qualities so that we may do so. Said another way, we are therefore most attracted to those who have the ability to hurt us psychologically the way we were hurt as children. Moreover, what ends up happening is instead of healing we get hurt in the exact same way, once again, this time by a lover instead of a caregiver. We want to have the same problem play out from our childhood but this time solve the problem instead of enduring the pain, and move past this incident, gaining closure and healing the old wound.

The first thing to do is to identify the negative qualities that pull you in in the first place. Look for qualities that all of your exes who matched this pattern had in common. If you are unsure ask friends, family members and confidants. Next, identify these exact same qualities in your childhood caregivers. Write them down in a list. Call it “My Attractions of Deprivation.” Write down anything that annoyed, upset or hurt you. Don’t worry if you were at fault in some instances, too. Just write them down. Put in physical characteristics that are attractive too but negative like over-confident swagger. Next, get another piece of paper. Entitle it “Profile of my Attractions of Deprivation.” Write down the exact type of person you are attracted to using these qualities. Notice that these exact qualities are both what turn you on and what end up stifling the relationship, such as arrogance. On the flip side, that person doesn’t care about you the way you do them. They aren’t considerate and don’t support you or make room in their lives for you. If you can’t think of anything, ask your friends. They’ll have a ton of things to tell you.

Underneath write “My Gifts.” Write down all of the positive qualities your exes never took the time to get to know about you. These are the very things that get stifled in these relationships. They are holding you back from personal growth. Keep this with you and the next time you are attracted to someone who is wrong for you, turn away. Find people you are attracted to instead, those that inspire you not deprive you. For more advice read, How to Avoid Falling in Love with A Jerk: The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart without Losing Your Mind by John Van Epp, Ph.D.

ADHD and Relationships

couple at therapy

ADHD and Relationships

When one person has ADHD in a relationship, and the other person doesn’t, unique problems can occur. The power dynamic can become that of a parent to child, which isn’t healthy. The non-ADHD person becomes the one with the power, guiding, reminding and helping their partner. When the ADHD partner has a chore to be done, their counterpart may remind them, indeed several times, until the ADHD partner does it. Or the non-ADHD partner may give up and do it themselves rather than keep reminding their other half. Eventually, too many chores or responsibilities are allocated to the non-ADHD partner.

The symptoms of ADHD unmanaged are permanent. Distraction, memory problems and other symptoms start to weigh on the relationship. The non-ADHD partner becomes the parent, the ADHD partner the child. The power dynamic in this relationship becomes off kilter, leaning only to one side. This leads to a lack of respect on the part of the non-ADHD partner as they begin to view their partner like a child, and a condescending attitude can ensue. The ADHD partner begins to resent their significant other.

Adaptation is generally considered a good thing. One partner sees an issue arising and both partners change to meet and overcome it. Some research has shown however that stronger couples see problems coming down the pike and counteract them before they become an issue in the relationship. For ADHD, this power dynamic increases over time. As more and more control is lent to the non-ADHD partner and the more they become the parent, the other the child, the more resentment builds. Both people in this relationship have their problems with the other. One doesn’t want to do all of the work of the other. The ADHD partner doesn’t want to be treated like a child. They get tired of constant reminders, general bossiness and nagging. And the non-ADHD partner gets tired of doing so. And this dynamic puts a strain on the relationship. The couple feels less inclined toward positive feelings of love, affection, physical intimacy and romance.

Child/parent dynamics will almost inevitably lead to relationship or marital dysfunction. ADHD should be treated with the help of a mental health professional. Both partners should be involved. But if you are married or seriously involved with someone who has ADHD or if you have ADHD make sure to talk about it in depth with your partner. Treatment should also be sought. For more advice read, The ADHD Effect On Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlov.

Why Wives File for Divorce More often than Husbands


Some have been curious as to why wives file for divorce more often than husbands today. Part of it has to do with changes we’ve seen in society. Traditionally women depended on men financially. Getting divorced then could mean a woman’s financial ruin, or a steep decline in her standard of living. Today with so many highly educated career women, wives don’t have to depend on their husband’s support. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “More working women than men have college degrees.” Another reason, there used to be a social stigma against divorce in the U.S. There was thought to be something wrong with someone who was divorced. But today, with the divorce rate so high and people at various ages finding themselves single again, the stigma against being divorced has plummeted. It was the creation of “no fault” divorce laws in the 1970’s that saw a dramatic increase in divorce. Previous to these laws a serious reason had to accompany a divorce such as abuse, infidelity or even abandonment. Today the divorce rate for baby boomers is around 50%, while for those groups that came after it’s approximately 40%.  Lots of women however still take divorce to heart. They feel like it is a symbol of failure. But the majority of the people in the U.S. are single today. So these attitudes are also changing.

Women’s empowerment and equality since the feminist movement, particularly that of the 1970’s, has seen more powerful women in positions of leadership both in the government, the military and private industry. Women used to feel less powerful and so at the mercy of their husbands. Today lots of powerful women in Hollywood, the corporate sphere and even in the government have endured divorce and are still viable, vibrant members contributing heavily to our society. Gender roles too have changed dramatically. Women no longer feel subservient to their husbands. They feel instead as if they should be their equals. If they aren’t treated as equals or aren’t getting what they need out of the relationship, women feel more empowered to leave the relationship than they have in the past. Still, even in today’s world women still generally do more of the housework. Men may stay longer in dysfunctional marriages only because the lifestyle is far easier than living alone, while a woman doesn’t necessarily have this consideration unless her husband is the one who stays at home. Finally, some men are reluctant to leave a marriage due to their children. They don’t want to upset the children. These men also know that usually the mother gets custody of the kids while the father gets visitation rights. Some men have a close relationship with their children and can’t cope with seeing them less often. This is one of the reasons why shared custody today is far more common than in the past. For more on this topic, read A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce by famous actor Alec Baldwin.

How Couples Drink may predict their Chances of Divorce


Do you and your spouse drink about the same amount? A new study shows how the way couples drink may predict their chances of divorce. University of Buffalo researchers have discovered that drinking heavily doesn’t necessarily cause divorce so long as both parties in the marriage drink the same amount and frequency (huffingtonpost). 634 married couples were followed for this study. Those that drank similar amounts of alcohol were the most successful. Half of couples who had dissimilar drinking patterns divorced no matter how lightly or heavily they drank. Lead author Ken Leonard said of the study, “Our results indicate that it is the difference between the couple’s drinking habits, rather than the drinking itself, that leads to marital dissatisfaction, separation and divorce.”  A Norwegian study looked at almost 20,000 couples and the conclusion was the same, drinking patterns in sync supported marriages, while disparate drinking patterns saw couples split.

Although these findings do sound strange, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise really. How you drink may be telling of your overall perception and outlook on life. Is your life about the search for pleasure or more fleeing from pain? Do you have a life goal that you are focused on, and wouldn’t want drinking to get in the way of? Alcoholism is surely a disease where two of a kind get along famously together, or else no matter how dysfunctional they can’t live without each other. What’s important is to note the type of person you are and see if the person you are dating, your spouse, or someone you are considering has the same drinking patterns as you.  Alcohol consumption can put pressure on a relationship, particularly if someone drinks too much. Of course, anyone with an alcohol or substance abuse problem should get help. There are plenty of services available. If you love someone, and they have a problem, do what you can to let them recognize it and seek help.