Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Have you ever gotten close to someone, whether for romance or just friendship, and everything was going along perfectly when they disappeared? It’s happened to me several times. Women especially complain about this phenomenon in relationship to a guy they were dating, as I have. I used to wonder why so many men run when they get involved with a woman they really life, who treats them well, and happiness is flowing. I’ve studied this and now understand it.

There’s a saying, “Water seeks its own level.” On a parallel level, people attract people they’re used to, whether they’re good or not.

And they repel people who make them happy if they’re not used to it, as illogical as it may seem to leave someone who’s good to them. Sadly being with someone healthy can feel outside their comfort zone. When you’re used to a partner who doesn’t treat you well or has unacceptable behavior, you build defenses to deal with it, so it feels comfortable on some levels to handle behavior you’re used to, however uncomfortable the behavior is. Often we attract negative people if we don’t believe we deserve better or we grew up experiencing parents or other people hurting each other and think that’s the norm.

People who are used to dysfunction attract it and can’t handle healthy situations. This is true of both men and women who are used to unhappy relationships.

I’ve encountered this with several men who’ve mainly been in relationships with women who were not loving or kind. I once got involved with a guy who read my book, All Men Are Jerks Until Proven Otherwise, and thought it made a lot of sense. We talked about how he related personally to many of the things I said. His ex-wife had been beautiful but cold, as were girlfriends before her. We discussed how scared he must be to fall for a healthy, caring woman since he’d never felt sincere love and warmth from any he’d been with. He tended to bury himself in work when he began to get close to someone and acknowledged that he contributed to the lack of warmth.

He swore he was determined to change with me. I told him to reread the section in my book about men who run as we got closer. It didn’t help. Right after he shared how happy I made him, he began to pick on me in ways that were unfair and irrational. He couldn’t handle being with a healthy, warm, and loving woman and continued to say hurtful things until I ended it. And the guy who motivated me write my book, All Men Are Jerks Until Proven Otherwise, actually admitted he did things to make me angry so I’d pull back since he couldn’t. He was falling for me hard but felt I was too good for him. This guy had only dysfunctional relationships on every level, especially in his family growing up.

We seek what we’re used to, unless we make a conscious decision to change the pattern, whether it’s to run when things get good or be attracted to the type that runs.

Now when I meet a guy and find out he’s bitter about past romantic partners, I do a 180 and wish him well. While anything is possible and perhaps with LOTS of patience I might get through, after several of these guys I have no more patience. It happens with friends too. When you’re used to having unsupportive friends, it can be hard to get close to someone healthy. The person might feel too insecure to get close or be scared of falling too hard or becoming too vulnerable. Unhealthy people are harder to get close to so they may feel safer.

Whether you’re the one they run from or the one who runs, be aware if it happens. Ask yourself why you attract people who run or why you sabotage good relationships. Fear can be very irrational. When you pay attention, you might be able to change how you respond to situations or the kind of people you attract to have more satisfying friends and romantic partners in your life.

Take the self-love challenge and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at And you can post your loving acts HERE to reinforce your intention to love yourself. Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE.

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