Dear Therapist,

I'm really cross with myself for fixating over people who don't appreciate me or validate me fully. Romantically, friendship wise, and with family. 

Someone I thought was a close friend has been quite rejecting and unaware of me. I don't know if I should say something, or how to deal with it, or maybe I should just leave it and back away. Basically, I've been going through a crisis and this friend has been unavailable to me, and unresponsive, and unappreciative of my efforts to be there for her. 

I'm incredibly understanding and accommodating and I'm tired of being ignored and taken for granted. I'm quite angry. But if I say something to her about her lack of availability for me, it won't help. How could it? I'm not going to force her to be a better, more attentive friend. But it's disappointing. 

The guys I'm attracted to tend to be jerks who are half available at best. The only place where I don't do this is my work self. Why am I doing this to myself, and what can I do? I keep going for the wrong people! 

Oh I get it. It's such a specific kind of pain, the familiar deprivation of the person whose attention you want. 

Why do you keep going to empty wells when you're thirsty? I don't know about your early experiences of attachments and deprivations but in my work as a psychotherapist, I am constantly hearing about people’s attraction to the wrong people. “I keep falling for the wrong people” is a line I’ve heard countless times. 

It's interesting that in your work mode, you make healthy choices but the dark relationships come into a corner of your worldview and kidnap you. I wonder if you’re kidnapped by old fears, reopening wounds that never healed, unfinished business from long ago. 

In your frustrating friendship dynamic, what is it you're trying to fix and take responsibility for in bending over backwards for her, when she won't bend? What is it you're reenacting and addressing through this relationship now? Are you secretly holding onto a humiliation, a betrayal, a rejection from long ago, thinking you can fix this now? 

I suggest acknowledging your needs, noticing the wounds that left emotional scars. Have you worked overly hard to meet other people's needs, at the expense of having any explicit needs yourself? Does over-giving serve you? It tends to be a gradual source of resentment and outrage, especially when it's unnoticed. Start noticing yourself more, your own felt sense and inner experience. Pay attention to the dynamic before you go into resentment debt!


Charlotte Fox Weber is a verified Welldoing psychotherapist and the author of What We Want: Understand Your Deepest Desires and Live a Fuller Life