The law of attraction is tricky. A few years ago, I felt something was deeply wrong with me because I kept attracting people who hurt me. No matter how hard I tried to fix myself, and alter my energy, the same type of people kept coming my way. I'd talk to my friends about it and ask them, "Why do I keep attracting this type of person? Why do I keep having the same experiences?"
It took me a while to realize that the biggest thing I was doing "wrong" was not recognizing the power I had in choosing the people I let into my life. Blaming myself for the people I was "attracting" was pointless because I had no power or control over who was attracted to me. None of us do.
Instead of asking ourselves, "Why do I keep attracting this type of person?" we should try asking, "Why do I continue to give energy to people who show signs of not being a good fit for me?"
To have healthier and more fulfilling relationships, we must be intentional about who we entertain and make space for in our lives. We have to own our decision to continue patterns with people because they provide us with a familiar discomfort we’ve become accustomed to settling for. While we aren't responsible for the way people treat us, we are responsible for understanding why we decide to stay.
So, how do we lay the foundation for choosing the right people?
1. Show up as yourself.
When we first meet someone, it's tempting to show up as our representative or be the person we think someone is looking for. To find people we're compatible with, we must be brave enough to be ourselves, even if that means not being liked or accepted. As long as we find the courage to radically love, value, and accept ourselves, we put ourselves in the position to meet people with whom we can sustain healthy and meaningful relationships.
2. Build a relationship with yourself.
Being disconnected from ourselves can make it hard to be connected with other people. Learning to love, honor, and respect ourselves helps us create a strong foundation for building healthy relationships with other people. When we feel safe with ourselves, we'll feel more confident when putting ourselves out there to get to know others. When we begin having conflicts, which is guaranteed to happen whenever people get to know each other, we'll be able to communicate our needs and boundaries to increase intimacy in the relationship. If the relationship doesn't work out, we're less likely to blame ourselves and more likely to trust that we can make more fulfilling connections in the future.
3. Don't be afraid to look "needy."
Sometimes we're afraid to ask for what we need to feel safe or comfortable in a relationship because we fear looking "needy." When we present as "needless," we end up in a community with people that like being around us because we don't ask for anything. As a result, the relationships become one-sided as they grow more comfortable and content with not doing anything for us. As the relationship progresses, we attempt to let our needs be known and grow resentful as our requests go unnoticed. Being open about our needs helps us discover people we're compatible with in friendship and romance. Having needs is one of the things that makes us human, and some of these needs can only be filled when we're in relationships with other people. Remember, sometimes you're not asking for too much; you're simply asking the wrong person.
4. Let people unfold.
Sometimes we commit to people too quickly. We become captivated with the idea of someone, and when the truth of that person is revealed, we are disappointed, or worse, we're in denial. Natalie Lou, the author of the Baggage Reclaim Series, always reminds readers that "people unfold." Over the course of getting to know someone, we may discover signs that unveil incompatibility. If we're not careful, we'll overlook those signs and keep moving forward because we don't want to be wrong about someone.
We don't want to be alone again. We don't want to stop being friends with someone. But, in the end, we hurt our own feelings by choosing to deny the reality of our situation. We also draw out the ending of what would likely be an unfulfilling relationship. The more time we spend engaging with people we aren't compatible with, the less time we spend connecting with people we fit well with.
5. Choose people that choose you.
Stop chasing after people who are running away from you. Some of us learned that we were difficult to love, and we internalized that our relationships would be challenging and filled with uneasiness. When we receive mixed signals, crumbs of attention, or poor treatment, we're prepared to fight and perform to sustain the relationship and prove ourselves. Our nervous system gets triggered, and we mistake those feelings of uncertainty for attraction and love. But that's not love, and we are worthy and deserving of so much more.
We deserve mutuality. We deserve to be around people who want to be with us as much as we want to be with them. We shouldn't be in a state of constantly questioning if someone is as invested as we are, nor should we be performing for love. Choose people that choose you—no forcing, no begging.
6. Become comfortable with impermanence.
Everyone you meet and build a relationship with won't stay in your life forever, and that's okay. Everyone isn't meant to stay. Sometimes we try to prevent people from leaving or refuse to walk away because we're uncomfortable with endings. More importantly, we're uncomfortable with what endings say about us. By trying to control whether or not people stay, we're attempting to control the uncontrollable. It's a losing game, and we end up hurting ourselves and others in the process. Longevity in a relationship is not an indicator of health or fulfillment, nor does it serve as a reflection of our worthiness.
7. Stop making excuses for people.
When we feel unlovable, we can have a strong desire to stop other people from feeling the same way. We'll try to accommodate, justify and tolerate unacceptable behavior in other people because we don't want to be mean or reject people. We aren't responsible for protecting other people from rejection or disappointment. If we're being honest, sometimes we struggle with the idea of rejecting someone because we don't want to deal with the pain of being rejected and assume others can't handle it either. When people hurt us, we lean into being too understanding instead of assessing the relationship and establishing boundaries. Don't fall into the trap of blaming yourself for someone else's behavior in hopes that if you take responsibility, you can evoke change. Part of being in healthy relationships and establishing respect is showing others you have the strength and courage to protect yourself.
Taking responsibility for our lives is scary, but it's where healing begins. While we can't be in control of everything, we can exercise our power to choose. Letting people into our lives isn't a passive activity. The relationships we choose to pour energy into play a significant role in our happiness and well-being. Give yourself the love, compassion, and foundation you need to choose wisely.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Getty Images