Control Freak: Codependency and Your Pattern of Unavailable Men
Each month I speak to dozens of professional, hard-working women. Who find themselves again and again in disappointing, dysfunctional relationships.
She has her career down to a T.
She’s built a life for herself.
To coworkers, friends at church or acquaintances around town, she seems to have it all.
But behind closed doors, she keeps falling for someone who seems to be struggling in his life somehow.
Maybe he’s not happy with his career or feels stuck.
Or struggles with money.
Maybe he has a crazy Ex.
Or battles depression, anxiety or some other “issue” that keeps him from being fully motivated in his own life. (And truly available to her.)
But in the beginning, he feels like her soulmate.
He’s attentive. He sweeps her off her feet. And they have an “off the charts” connection.
Which inevitably deteriorates into push-pull, eggshell walking, gaslighting, silent treatments, daily anxiety and multiple breakups and makeups.
She loses her sense of direction in life. Her confidence.
Her emotional wellbeing…and at times, financial security by being the breadwinner to an underachieving partner.
WHY IS THIS?
Why would a successful, high achieving woman fall for dysfunctional men? To her family and coworkers on the outside…it doesn’t make any sense.
The reason? It’s COMFORTABLE FOR HER.
THE REALITY: she’s deeply afraid of abandonment or rejection.
She’s deeply afraid of losing control or losing herself in a relationship.
She’s built her life in such a way that she has continuous control.
She receives validation and emotional approval by being the strong, successful woman.
She bases her self-worth and value EXTERNALLY on how much she’s achieving in her life.
And yet often compares herself to other women who “have it all”.
Creating a sense of rejection (the very thing she’s been running from) and feeling inferior.
See how she’s subconsciously creating a no-win situation here?
So when she finds herself with an underachieving partner… she receives the same emotional “hit” of validation by being the helper, fixer, cheerleader, therapist and emotional sounding board to her partner.
She remains in control. (At least in her own mind.)
And in her mind: free from rejection, abandonment or losing herself.
Because she feels “needed” by her partner.
When in reality, she’s subconsciously choosing unavailable men to avoid feeling out of control, vulnerable and at risk of abandonment or rejection.
THE IRONY: she ultimately meets REJECTION as her partner increasingly becomes more and more unavailable to her (because of his own issues).
And ultimately ABANDONED when the relationship inevitably FAILS.
Sadly, many women will cycle through this vicious pattern again and again. Growing more and more jaded and mistrustful.
It often gets worse as the decades roll by. She falls for someone even more emotionally unavailable or abusive than the last.
Which leads to more achieving and doing so that she feels some kind of worthiness and value.
This doesn’t have to be your death sentence.
When you truly overcome your own subconscious fears and control issues stemming from unhealed trauma and codependency…
And you COMBINE that healing with a FORWARD MOVING PLAN to show up radically more empowered, vulnerable, clear, open-hearted and honest in your OWN LIFE…
HAVING THE FULFILLING LOVE you want is MORE THAN POSSIBLE. It’s inevitable.
So what DOES it take to heal your codependency and control issues?
- Using evidence based methods for healing complex trauma. Complex trauma is prolonged exposure to mini emotional or psychological traumas that happen in the context of a relationship. The place we’re supposed to feel the safest.
Trauma research in the last decade actually shows talk therapy is ineffective for emotional trauma survivors up to 78% of the time.
Using protocols like somatic therapy, breathwork or trauma-sensitive yoga are excellent starting points to begin rewiring your brain and nervous system for safe, healthy, emotionally available relationships.
- Expanding your comfort zone
I’ve worked with many clients who’ve spent years if not decades in talk therapy…but still essentially feel stuck in their lives. Or struggle with daily anxiety or trust issues.
Repeatedly finding yourself in unhealthy relationships, when you feel like you’re doing ALL the right things to heal… can take a toll on your confidence and self esteem.
But when you commit to challenging your comfort zone (which is especially hard for those who’ve felt traumatized in relationships), your confidence and belief in yourself goes up. WAY UP.
Coaching can be an excellent method for this as it takes you where you are right now (instead of rehashing the past) and gives you tangible action steps and a plan to follow week to week. Combine that with support, accountability and evidence based methods for healing emotional or complex trauma?
The sky’s the limit for you. Codependency turns into CO CREATING the life…and eventually love, you’ve always wanted.
In addition to being a regular contributor to the #1 Online Magazine For Codependency Recovery, Bethany Dotson is a Trauma-Sensitive Somatic Therapist and Relationship Coach