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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5838
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am trying to break a pattern of being really kind and

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I am trying to break a pattern of being really kind and generous to men who initially seem ok, but then treat me badly and are manipulative to me and are usually mean. the common thread with all of them is that they had "mother issues" - did not like their mother etc and said that and I got on very well with my mother but badly with a father who was abusive to her.
Is there anything I can do- do I have to stop getting attached to them early on when I can see these traits or is is a pattern that is inevitable with me. Do men with "mother issues" require a woman who is close to their father or something like that?

Hi, I'd like to help you with your questions.

It is understandable that you would view relationships through how you were taught. Your parents example of how relationships should work was the only example you had to go by. You did not have the opportunity to see how a loving relationship worked, so you are naturally attracted to men who follow a pattern of dysfunctional behavior in relationships. This is a normal reaction to what you went through.

What happens when you are exposed to an abusive parent and have a poor relationship with them as a child is an attempt to repair that relationship as an adult by unconsciously seeking out partners who are similar to the abusive parent. In this way, you have the opportunity to change the other person and fix the relationship you had with your father, symbolically.

Men who have mother issues vary in their responses. It depends greatly on what kind of relationship they had with their mothers. Some were abused by them, some were too close, and others were neglected. Every male raised by mothers who reacted abnormally will respond based on their own personality and the circumstances they were in (siblings vs. no siblings, supportive father, etc) and there is no real way to categorize them or predict how they will react because there are too many variables.

One of the best things you can do to help yourself you have already done, which is become aware of what you are doing. The fact that you have insight helps you see the problem and gives you the power to stop the behavior.

Another option is getting to the root of your feelings about your relationship with your father. You mentioned that you have tried counseling. Did you feel it helped? If not, try another therapist. It is important that you explore your relationship with your father and how you feel about it now. Also, you need to understand how your relationship with him should have been and mourn the loss of a normal relationship, which you should have had if he had not been abusive. By getting to the root of the problem, you cut off the desire to find men like him and try to fulfill your needs through your relationships now.

Another step you can take is to seek out men that are different than you are used to. Sort of break the pattern you have been caught in. Intentionally seek out men who are attractive for different reasons than the normal ways that attract you. Ask friends to set you up for blind dates or let them know you are seeking out men who are different than you usually see. If you can break the pattern, it will help change your perspective and help you start to see the healthier relationships you are missing.

Self help can also provide you with more information about how you can help yourself seek better relationships. The more educated you are about your relationships, the less chance you will keep repeating the pattern. Here are some resources to help guide you to find better relationships:

Why You Do the Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships by Tim Clinton and Gary Sibcy

How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving by David Richo and Kathlyn Hendricks

Taking Out Your Emotional Trash: Face Your Feelings and Build Healthy Relationships by Georgia Shaffer

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

I hope this has helped you,

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you