Stop Attracting the Same Type of Unhealthy Relationship Q&A

Question:

I`m 36 years old and never been married. I want to get married and have an amazing loving relationship, and so far to no avail. It seems that in all the relationships I have had I tend to `lose` myself in them. When my last relationship ended, I thought that if giving was the key to a great relationship then he wouldn`t have left. How do I stop attracting the same type of relationships and finally find `the one`..

Desperately seeking partnership

Answer:

I believe that most people share your desire, to have a loving committed relationship. Getting lost in relationship is very common, especially in the early stages of dating…ahhhh the honeymoon period. I can`t eat, I can`t sleep, all I think about is THEM… and how dreamy they are… and this is a very normal part of courtship.  If however, getting lost means putting their needs ahead of yours, you send a message that who you are is not as valuable.

We all have beliefs about ourselves, and these are based on messages and experiences we have had growing up.  For example, giving seems to be really important to you. Without knowing more about you, I can say that often people who give a lot think that part of their value comes from what they do or give, not just for who they are.

Breaking these patterns of behaviour requires taking a closer look at oneself, to realize some of the conscious and unconscious beliefs, and then taking action to have a different experience.  For example, if you are dating someone who is frequently late, you might say this,

“I understand that traffic was bad and you were tied up at work, AND I want you to know that when you are late I feel disrespected and make up that you think my time is not valuable.“

This small step of counting yourself in from the very start will set a different template for the relationship, and you will know very quickly whether or not this person has values that match yours. I think often we are afraid to say something, or get angry. There is a place in the middle where you are both honoured, and either the other person will meet you there, or they may not be the one for you.  I do believe you can have amazing love in your life if you work on allowing it!

Food is not the problem

Food is not the problem…it’s the symptom of your problem. Those of us who use food to cope do so because it provides us with a temporary reprieve of dealing with the underlying problems.

The diet and weight loss industry are constantly focused on the food….and if food was really the problem then we would be successful, instead of suffering the pain of regain and relapse.

Going on a diet is like an alcoholic going to detox. It works for a while…its stops the drinking…however it’s solving the wrong problem. We are not looking at the reasons WHY we were using food (or another substance) to cope. So once life gets hard again, the one thing I know to make it feel better in the moment is to eat.

So, if you have tried diets or quick fix weight loss solutions and have not had long term success, you are not alone and it’s not your fault. You have been trying to solve the wrong problem.

I know the pain of being obsessed with food, eating, my body, how I look, what others think of me….. and the lure of a quick fix easy solution is seductive and enticing. I want that pain to go away, and I want it now. Even in the back of our minds when we know it won’t work long term, we convince ourselves that this time will be different. Anything to make the pain go away.

It can be scary to face our past, our trauma, our negative self-talk, our unmet attachment needs. I mean, isn’t this the very reason we have been eating in the first place? To avoid the feelings we think will cripple us? I understand. And, I also know that the only way through is through.  In facing the things we think will be too hard and painful we take away the control they have over us. Then we can start to live an authentic life based on creation rather than reaction.

Is Emotional Eating a Decision?

As far as being an emotional eater…Did I decide to have this thing? Did I DECIDE to use food to cope emotionally?

I don’t believe most of us ever consciously decide to become emotional eaters. Medically, there is a biological predisposition that some of us have to consume more food than others, and also the way that certain foods are registered in our brain and our bodies are different.

Many of us started reaching for food to cope at a young age. An age before the part of our brain that is responsible for logical thought processes has fully developed. These coping strategies were born out of emotional and biological needs to make it through circumstances that we thought we could not otherwise deal with alone. It was not rational, logical (or even conscious for the most part)…it was based on survival.

Ok, so maybe I understand that part. However I am no longer a young child. I have access to a fully developed brain and I can now take care of my basic needs, so my survival is no longer dependent upon others. Why am I still eating when I’m not hungry? Am I making a conscious decision to do this?

First of all, coping strategies used consistently over time can become strongly entrenched habits. We create a neural super highway in our brains that reacts instantaneously when we are triggered. This means that many of us are on autopilot when it comes to reaching for food. To me a decision implies a conscious choice.

So while you might not think you are currently making a decision to eat emotionally, you are also not making a decision to stop eating emotionally. It’s like being born with Type 1 Diabetes. You didn’t decide to be diabetic, and you can decide about how you treat yourself.

The first step towards consciousness is awareness. So a decision that you can make right now is to become more aware of what feelings trigger the compulsion to reach for food. One of the ways you can start this is to keep a feeling log. Each time you eat, log your feelings. Sometimes the feeling may be hunger, and sometimes not. The important part here is that if you want to get clear about how and why you reach for food, this is the first decision you can make towards taking control of your eating. By taking a moment to be mindful before you eat.

It’s not your fault. And you can do something about it now.

Online Dating and the Plus Size Girl

I wish it was true that fat people were not discriminated against. Unfortunately, a lifetime of experience and my recent foray into online dating has some evidence to the contrary.

It’s not a heckle as I walk down the street, or a refusal to be served in a retail store that obviously doesn’t carry my size. That is overtly rude, and while it has occasionally happened, that is not the type of discrimination I usually encounter being a size 18. No, for me it’s about being overlooked.

Take my recent experience on a popular online dating site that states that they find your perfect match based on your interests and personality. I had over 400 matches in 2 months, which is great, unless you look at the fact that less than 5% of them corresponded with me. That’s right. I am a loving, educated professional who is passionate about helping people, I have a wicked sense of humour, and I can hold my own in the looks department. Oh, and yes, I like to be active and work out as well. Based on the fact that we were “matched” based on common interests, values, etc…. my only conclusion is that at least 380 men within 100 miles of Vancouver think I am too large to be in a relationship with.

The reason I say I don’t think people are consciously discriminating against larger people is because we all have a filter with which we view life. That filter is made up of all of our experiences, our beliefs, and a lot of that comes from the media. If close to 60% of Canadians are now considered overweight, is that reflected in our media? This is also the same filter whose results have at least 20% of us believing that fit=slim. I know plenty of slim people who don’t exercise or take care of themselves.

This is not about being anti-slim or pro-fat. This is about the number of people who aren’t aware that they are actually filtering out an entire portion of the population based on their pre-conceived notions of who fat people are.

I can’t guarantee that I will always be heavy, or that I will be slim. What I do know is that I will always be a great person- fun, active and caring. My hope is that others will open their eyes and their minds to look past what they think they see.

What would you do if you could predict the outcome?

Excitement and fear produce the same physiological response in the body. So how do I determine if I am excited or scared? We will choose to feel excitement if we can predict the outcome. If I know that when I get on the roller coaster that eventually I will return safely to the platform, then I may feel excitement.

It is often when I am doing something that I have never done before (and therefore not sure of the expected outcome) that I feel fear and anxiety.

An amazing group of individuals in my last workshop (the Advancement of Excellence) decided to take on the Grouse Grind during the program. Many of those who participated had never accomplished this difficult hike before. There was tremendous support for each other, and no one was left behind.

I have heard people say that they will do “x” once they have the confidence and are ready to do it. The problem is that confidence comes from action, from doing. I can’t have confidence in something until I have actually done it. I am sure that if some of them had waited to hike the Grind until they felt “ready to do it”, that they would still be waiting.

I am incredibly proud of their accomplishment, and what I am more astonished by is what has happened since. Over half of them have returned to do it again, to beat their time, and some have done it multiple times! Once they knew the expected outcome (that they would finish) they had the confidence to do it again, to push their comfort zone and self-limitations even further.

It was because of this example of courageous individuals that I was inspired to take on the Great GG myself. I have lived in the Lower Mainland my entire life, and I had always been scared of the hike, thinking it was too tough, that it was only for people in great shape. I decided to take on the principle of expected outcome. I was nervous the day before, and I chose to believe that no matter what, I would complete the hike. This really changed things for me. Was it tough? Absolutely. Did I have a few choice words along the way? For sure. Did I ever think of turning around? No.

So what would you do if you made the decision to take action and predict the outcome?

Christina Bianchini is a Registered Professional Counsellor and workshop facilitator.