Are you continuously disappointed in your relationships? Do people seem to leave you or let you down? Do you get taken for granted or used? This month, I invite you take a candid look at your behavior to see why love might be missing for you. If you seem to stay in patterns where love is illusive for you, consider if it might be because of some of the following dynamics:

“Reworking” is a psychological process where you unwittingly choose partners or friends that treat you in a similar manner as your family of origin. The reason you seek out this type of person is because you keep trying to “rework” and change familiar behavior in order to convince your partner (and yourself) that you are worth loving. Unfortunately, it does not work because you will continue to behave in the same maladaptive way that you did as a child. A maxim I use is: “if you keep shopping at the hardware store to buy milk, you will be disappointed since they only sell hammers, sandpaper and nails”. You need to “shop” elsewhere and resist “reworking” as you seek out new types of relationships with positive people.

Is your “Antenna” off? If you grew up in a family where you were abused, disrespected or put down, your “Antenna” may be crooked and you may not recognize mistreatment. Your tendency will be to minimize ill-treatment, believe that you deserve it, blame yourself or deny it exists. Therefore, if you get in poor relationship it will be harder to reject it and move on to people who care about you.
Growing up I had a friend, “Sandra”, whose mother, an angry alcoholic, constantly screamed at her. We also had a “mean girl” in our class who was popular. When I was in 6th grade, she focused her malevolence on me. After less than a month of the mistreatment, I discontinued the “friendship” and found new friends. “Sandra” was also bullied but continued to be her “friend”. They ended up in the same college and the bullying became so extreme that “Sandra” did not return to college. At age 12 my “antenna” was already strong enough to fend off abuse because I was blessed to grow up in a family that treated me with dignity and respect.

Do you Sabotage relationships? When you do not really believe that you deserve to be loved, you unconsciously push people away. You may do this because that is the way you were treated as a child or to test how much ill treatment a person will tolerate to prove that they love you. When you finally get abandoned, it becomes further proof that you are unlovable or that people cannot be trusted. If you have a consistent theme of being rejected by people who say they love you or you never feel loved, see if any of the following behavior applies to you.

Do you tend to be disappointed? Do people continuously let you down? If this is a familiar feeling in your life, you need to question what might be the cause. Are you clear about your wants and needs and present your request in a straightforward manner? Or do you hint or scream when you have reached your boiling point? Could your expectations be too high; do you demand perfection and correct your loved one’s behavior? The reality is that we are ordinary human beings, who will on occasion hurt each other and let each other down. Love allows others to have quirks and imperfections while making accommodations for their limitations. Yet, if the relationship is constantly painful and disappointment is a unique experience, then you might need to shop at a new store, the way I did in 6th grade. But if you are constantly taking offense and cutting loved ones out of your life, consider if you need to be more flexible and forgiving.

Do you tend to disappoint others? If this is a common complaint that you hear from most loved ones, you will want to scrutinize your behavior. Do you express yourself openly and honestly? Or do you avoid confrontation and “go underground” until the issue has disappeared, you have cooled down or resolved the conflict by yourself? Do you allow loved ones to know your pain, displeasure and challenges? Are you secretive about your life because you are afraid of rejection? While this behavior may have protected you as a child, and is still a good response with past abusers, secretiveness is maladaptive in a healthy relationship. Keeping your truth hidden build walls, causes confusion, alienates others and eventually destroys intimacy. If you want a healthy, loving relationship you need to be honest and open, even if it is risky or painful.

Is there reciprocity in your relationship? Do you invest in your loved one’s life, including successes and challenges? Are you a priority for each other? Are you available in times of need? Do you respond to requests in a timely manner and are you clear and prompt when your answer is “no” or are you vague because you do not wish to hurt feelings? Your vagueness will keep your friend dangling, cause frustration and possibly result in rejection as she gets tired of waiting for you.

Love tends to come into your life through happenstance, be it with a close friend or life partner. But whether you go out “shopping” for love or serendipitously find it, take the time to move into new relationships slowly. Consider if it is just physical attraction and infatuation which while exciting is fleeting. Step back and discern if the person has similar values, if you feel safe and respected. You deserve to be loved! The challenge is to choose people who will truly “love you”, who have the capability to support, affirm and help you to grow into your best self. Then it is up to you to take a risk and accept the gift and reciprocate.

“We get best friends by a kind of grafting and growing together, as we learn to trust each other, feel safe with each other, understand each other, and simply expect each other to be there…” Lillian Rubin

Author's Bio: 

JoAnne is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who believes in the connection of emotional health to body, mind and spirit. She has integrated clinical counseling with holistic techniques and has formalized her knowledge by creating the Journey Back to Self program which is available in a recorded CD. In addition, in order to further assist others, she writes self improvement tips that you can find on facebook or her website,