One of the most interesting aspects of my work as a therapist is how much I learn from my clients. Years ago, I worked with a young woman who was struggling to find a happy, healthy relationship. She easily, breezily summarized her challenge:
“My sorority sisters say my problem is that I keep dating candy bars when what I really need is an apple. Their advice makes perfect sense. A candy bar looks so good when you first see it, and I crave it with passion, but whenever I have it, I end up feeling sick. I know that apples are much healthier, but I don’t crave them with the same sense of longing.”
This succinct summary of her dating pattern is one I observe time and time again among both men and women who claim all they want is a happy relationship, and they lament that this wish is never fulfilled. And yet, when exploring their dating history in more detail, they will frequently admit to a pattern of actively choosing unavailable or otherwise unsuitable partners.
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