Why are we attracted to the wrong men?
I asked this question of the universe recently. Literally. Not some vague speculation into the ether, which in actuality remains confined to my actual brain. Not gentle, and slightly ambitious hinting. We’re talking, WTF universe, direct line of questioning. We’re talking a Tarot card level dialogue.
“Am I still attracting the wrong men?”
The universe was none to subtle in its response.
“Bitch please. The fact that you’re asking that question is an answer enough. Yes. Yes you are.”
But seriously. What have I been doing for the last year? Answer: I’ve been introspecting the crap out of my impulses towards, stories about, and relationships with, men. And yet here I am still attracting the wrong ones with the only obvious, although dubious, plus being that at least now I’m aware of it…?
I have a man willing to fly across the country to have sex with me (true fact, and he’s amazing, and interesting, and kind, and sexy as hell) and yet I still stumble, repeatedly, daily, over the ones who’ve said, “No thanks.” I mean, they did it in a sort of cocky and extremely devastating way. But still, no thank you was the gist.
Why do we hang our worth on the ones who aren’t worth it?
We know that they either don’t want—or don’t deserve—us. Or both. And yet they are the ones we reference again and again as we sift through the evidence for our right to be loved and seen in this world.
Perhaps part of the problem is that I’m smitten with the notion of seeing myself reflected onto someone else. That by experiencing, by being intimate with different men, I’m able to see the various facets of myself. Who am I exactly? Where am I powerful? Where am I gentle? Where am I brittle?
Men have become tools. Not ones that I mindlessly throw away once they’ve served their purpose. But ones that I cherish. Ones that I tuck neatly away in my own toolbox of missed chances and surprise loves. The box that has made me slowly, painfully, but also joyously into the woman I am today.
A woman who apparently, according to the universe, is still attracting men who are nestled securely under layers of doubt, fear and a remarkable impulse to run at the first sign of something true.
I’ve realized it all comes down to one thing. All these bad choices. One thing:
It’s all about the matter and the character of space. How much space do you have in your life? And what type of space is it exactly?
One of my most significant breakups and surprise obliterations happened this last year. And they weren’t from the same man. They were, though, deeply connected and rooted in the context of that year and the space I needed filled.
When my ex left he created a vacuum in my life. It didn’t have to be vacuum. That force that threatens us with the feeling of impending implosion if we don’t find someone to fill the space and block the flow of energy ever in and down. That space could’ve been different. It could have been expansion and potential and opportunity. But it wasn’t. It was active emptiness. Emptiness as a verb. Bottomless and undefinable because it lacked me. Me as a solid and worthy human to create boundaries between myself and this expanding nothingness.
Good things do not happen in a vacuum.
In fact, bad things tend to happen in the presence of a generally insatiable bottomless force promoting system wide panic. Physics or no, we know this. We know (even though it’s super annoying and we always have an urge to ex-communicate our best friend from our life when she reminds us of this inconvenient fact, again) that we don’t find that person, the one who is special and lovely and right, until we are actually in a space to do so.
We know this because we know that we usually attract egotistical jerks who are in fact struggling with the same issues as we are—manifesting in general douche-baggery (an unfortunate side-effect of having a penis while also trying to not have feelings)—until we extricate ourselves from that space of self-imposed nothingness.
The bigger the vacuum, the bigger the asshole.
And perhaps the biggest problem with vacuums and assholes—the bigger they both are the more obliterated we will be on the other side.
How do we change physics?
We don’t have to. What we have to change is the type of space we create. Is it empty or is it open? Is it defined by desperation or potential? Loneliness or autonomy?
The hand holds that draw us out of nothingness are worth.
We have to augment that space with love. Not the kind that we outsource. (Remember the law of assholes and vacuums…) But the kind that is so much harder to obtain. The kind that takes a full toolbox, filled not with different men, but with what it is we’ve learned about ourself in the process. The kind that comes not from running, but from standing still. From asking ourself, am I worth it? And from answering that question with an affirmative: fuck yes.
That space changes over time. The ratio of emptiness to openness shifts whenever we choose ourself over bullshit. We see this in the men we attract. They become a little more right, a little more whole themselves with every relationship or glorious encounter.
We think we get better at choosing. At choosing the right men. Maybe we do. We’re smarter. More discerning. Better at actually responding to red flags (instead of just noting them silently in our heads). As we become full functioning adults we get less and less of those are you worth it? mulligans.
Sure. We get better at choosing men. But they’ve changed because we’ve changed. They’ve changed because our choice has changed.
We don’t get better at choosing men.
They are not the point.
We get better at choosing ourselves.
And with each choice our space changes.
Physics. It all comes down to physics.
Author: Maddie Berky
Editor: Travis May