Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ Why do I “Love Them and Leave Them?”

Dear Dr V ~

I need help figuring out what’s wrong with me. I’m just entering my third relationship in nine months, and I feel like it’s headed south, like the other ones. I bailed on my last two as well. I know there’s a pattern, but I don’t know what it means or how to stop it:  Basically I’ll obsessively crush on a girl for a few weeks, then we’ll start seeing each other. As soon as things start to “get real,” all of a sudden I lose all attraction to her and need to escape immediately. What does this mean? How do I stop? Is it me or them?


Dear Ryan,

The phrase that comes to mind is “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.”  Meaning that I think you’ve already decided how any relationship you enter will end before it even begins. For whatever reason, it would appear that you are deliberately keeping yourself from moving farther into an intimate relationship than the introductory “honeymoon” period. The fact that you’re troubled by this and are seeking to remedy it definitely shows me you’re at core a decent guy, but I think it may behoove you to know that to your former partners (and from the sound of your letter, soon-to-be former partner), you may seem to be, to use a colloquialism, “A Playa lookin’ to hit it and quit it.”

Which I don’t think you are, so let’s take a look at this.

I realize you might bristle at me mentioning this, but have you considered you may have a fear of commitment, which really means to me, that you feel unworthy of love? This to me would seem to be the obvious cause of the behavior you mention. “Obsessively Crushing,” as you put it, unless I’m way off the mark here, may actually be more akin to constructing and living in a fantasy world. Here’s what I mean: during your “crush” period, I’m sure you work out all kinds of fantasies in your head about the girl of the moment (both the bedroom kind and others). So you build up this girl into some mythical being, something that the real person cannot possibly compare to: because ultimately that construct is a reflection of you, and what you are hoping this person will be, rather than whom this person really is. Once you’re together and the real girl doesn’t match up with the fantasy girl, you start to lose interest, or perhaps, unconsciously or otherwise, create a situation in the relationship that necessitates a parting of the ways, leaving you both unfulfilled. Then, after a certain amount of time, the cycle begins all over again.

Am I getting close?

I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with you, or that you’re a bad guy or anything like that. I do believe that you may have some internal hang-ups that are pushing you to do this same dance over and over again. I would suggest some serious introspection on your part. What was your last real relationship like? Who was that person, what drew you to her? Very often, we select romantic partners for reasons we are on the surface completely unaware of. There could be some aspect of their behavior or personality that reminds us of something within ourselves we want to “fix.” So by creating (or more accurately, recreating) a certain situation via a relationship, we hope to give ourselves a shot at setting things right.

The truth about this of course is that whatever may be off-balance within us has to be set to right by deliberate and purposeful action, in other words, directly addressing the issue. This can often be a difficult and complex process; sometimes folks find that saddling up on Ye Olde Shrink’s Couch at these times can prove most helpful. Even just talking about your feelings with a friend, (or better yet if you’re comfortable with it, your partner) can be an enormous help.

Whatever your issues are, they are certainly activated now, as you mention you feel as if your current relationship is “going south.” So before you begin moving through the same rituals as before, putting yourself back in a space which I don’t think you desire to be, take a moment to pay attention to what’s going on inside. What are the feelings you’re experiencing? What’s changed between when you began the relationship and now that’s making you feel this way? What’s keeping you from discussing it with your partner?

However, it is also possible that you are also choosing mates that are likely to produce a certain situation. So also worth examining here are what your current girlfriend and your recent exes have in common, aside from their looks, sense of style, etc. What is it about their personalities, who they are as lovers, that links them?

The resolution to your problem most likely lies in the intersection of what we’ve discussed here: between what’s going on within you and whatever that certain common “Factor X” is between these women you’ve been with. Even if it really is best for you to move on from this current relationship, given what you’ve shared with me about your past, I suggest taking the time for serious reflection and genuine contemplation of any action before you take it.

I’ll close by applying the hack joke about adding “in bed” to the end of whatever a the message in a fortune cookie says to an overused cliché, not only because it’s appropriate, but because I can’t resist making a hack joke when the opportunity presents itself: Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it … in bed.

With Love and Light,

Dr. V

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