Dear Dr. Love, This problem may seem small, but to me it is gigantic.I am a 15 year old male and I like this girl in my school a lot. We flirt all the time, and I am sure that she likes me. She exchanges looks back and forth with me and I can tell she tries to think of things to say to me just so that we can talk.Thing is, I keep telling myself that I’m not sure if she likes me. I don’t know why, but I always stop myself from looking stupid by asking her for a number or showing her I like her too much.But as I sit at home now, I definetly know that she likes me. I’m not sure why it is, but I cannot ask any girls out, including this one. Whenever I do get a girlfriend it is because I have been forced to ask her out or a friend hooks us up. And those relationships don’t last long because I always find something wrong with the girl.I could tell you a couple reasons that may have caused this although I don’t feel like they effected me. The one that it might be is when I was young, I grew up with my mother and father fighting a lot and I found myself caught into these fights. My father finally left in the end for a much younger prettier woman, and I didn’t see him for a while.I didn’t really feel anything from all this, I don’t think.Anyway, I now have two families, 1 )Me and my mom, 2.) Me, my father, the woman, and my step brother. I had to also go through more fights between these two and they were even worse. Me and my step brother grew closer and the two broke up.Now, I have a new sister and my dad is married once again. I was wondering if that would have any effect or anything. I don’t know why, but even since elementary school I have liked girls back when they liked me and I was always too scared to ask them out.Please, help me out, please help me to find strength to ask these girls. You would seriously change my life if you could help.So could you please tell me what my problem is? thanx
You are very clear on what was traumatic in your upbringing, yet you are quick to deny the link between your past and your present. You may think that you are done with your past, but it’s not done with you!Here are a couple of theories on how your past is blocking you with girls. First, boys learn how to become men by identifying with their fathers. That means that they take on their father ‘s thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviors.You mentioned that you always find something wrong with the girl that you are dating and the relationship doesn’t work out. Can you see how your finding something wrong with a girl is repeating your dad’s performance?He found something wrong with his girl–your mom. So, without knowing it, you have may been programmed to follow in his footsteps and find something wrong with all the girls you date.This next theory is an even more likely explanation of what I think is going on. When we have been traumatized, we unconsciously replay the painful event, in an attempt to work through the feelings. Finding yourself locked in a repetitive pattern is your clue that you are working through an old wound. This is the only way that the mind knows how to heal: To replay painful events in order to work through the feelings attached to those events.I never mentioned who discovered this. It was Sigmund Freud who was treating a young boy who was very upset to be left by his mother in Dr. Freud’s office. Freud noted that the boy kept going to the window and waving goodbye to his mother, long after she was gone.He kept doing this over and over again, and it was this compulsive, repetitive behavior that clued Freud in to what humans do. They replay traumatic events in order to gain mastery over the bad feelings. What do you keep replaying?The trauma of dad finding another woman and leaving you and your mom behind. I know that this experience traumatized you. Why?First you mentioned it to me right up front. Then you went on to discuss it in an emotionally cut-off way, assuring me you have no feelings about the event. It’s not humanly possible to be unaffected by what happened. So where did your feelings go?Where all feelings that are too painful to bear go. The mind builds walls or defenses around the feelings, and makes us numb to them. This is an unconscious defense mechanism designed to protect you from overwhelming pain.Here’s the problem. Since the feelings went underground, you never got to work them through. But because buried wounds don’t heal on their own, the mind tries to heal the wound somehow. So what does it do?It arranges to have you replay the wound over and over again in your life, just like the boy in the above story. How do you replay your wound. You find fault with the girls you date and these relationships end, thereby reliving your experience with dad, who found fault with mom and left you both behind.Each time the mind replays the wound the goal is emotional mastery. That is, the mind churns up the feelings attached to the old wound and works them through a bit more each time. Only one problem. If you don’t make conscious the fact that you are replaying an old trauma, then the feelings that get awakened by the repeat performance, do you little good.In other words, the feelings float in outer space, but never get consciously linked to the old wound. So, no real healing occurs. The only way a healing can occur is if and when your mind makes actual link and says something like, ‘Oh my gosh, the pain that I feel each time I lose a girlfriend reminds me of the pain I felt when dad left mom’ or something like that.The key is, you must a conscious link between the feelings that are coming up in the present and the feelings that came up when you first suffered the wound. Otherwise you don’t heal, which means that you never break free of the repetitive pattern. Then what happens?You will keep replaying the wound, like a rat chasing your tail in a futile attempt to heal. The point I am driving home is: Replaying the wound in a mindless way will never heal you. What you need to do is get in touch with the feelings attached to the actual traumatic event (you must lose your psycholgical anesthesia, and get past the defense that leaves you cut-off and in denial).Once you find your feelings and work them through, you will be free to form a lasting relationship with a girl. Usually this work is done in therapy, so that you can have someone there to support you as painful feelings come to the surface.Let me know how you progress in this journey.