How do I build a healthy relationship?

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Today’s we start a new column on our blog, dedicated to requests and letters from our readers. We will call this space “Dear Therapist”.


My problem is that I cannot build normal, healthy, and happy relationships with men who treat me with love and care. Don’t take me wrong – I accept their attention, and it flatters me. But when they look at me adoringly and do everything for me, I completely lose my interest (mostly my sexual interest). It happens when I feel that they are head over heels in love with me. I experience some kind of repulsion; I don’t even know… I realize that this is not normal. I think that this, most likely, is caused by my perception of my parents’ marriage. My Dad was a tyrant: he would humiliate my Mom. He would yell and oppress her constantly.

Please help me figure this out – what is going on with me, how to deal with it? Is psychotherapy my only option? I realize that I, possibly, will not be able to build a healthy relationship.

Thank you in advance!

Respectfully, N.

Hello N.

Your story doesn’t have enough details for me to give you a specific analysis. But I have some theories. I will share them with you.

  1. Perhaps, because your Dad was a tyrant, attention from men repulses you: you want to run away.

This may happen if a child was controlled or coerced by the parent (not necessarily all the time, but only in certain aspects). In this case, just the fact that someone is paying attention to you may become a reason for the desire to distance yourself.

If this sounds like you, you need to work on yourself. You need to separate your Dad’s attention and his behavior towards you from your relationships with other people and their attention towards you.

It is better if you work on this with a psychologist because you need to find new ways to deal with people’s attention. Then, if, for example, a potential suitor will start paying attention to you, you will know how to behave and how not to get scared.

2. Your men somehow get too attached to you. In other words – their attention is not attractive. Nobody likes “stickies”, neither men nor women. Stickies put constraints on the person who is at the center of this behavior. The partner may feel as if being suffocated, controlled, etc. The “sticky” is very focused on the target of their “love”. They may get too lovey-dovey and their partner may lose interest. Also “stickies” may elicit disgust and irritation. Even if their partner would like to have a relationship with this person, their “stickiness” is repulsive. The partner may want a different relationship, but the “sticky” becomes too devoted. In order for them to change their behavior, they need to want it and work on their “stickiness”.

If this is what is happening to you, and if this is not for the first time, perhaps, you are unconsciously doing something that maintains this type of behavior towards you. Perhaps, you come across as unattainable, or attractive, or some other way. This could be the reason why men get stuck on you. 

3. You didn’t tell us whether you like these men. 

Perhaps, they like you, but you don’t like them. Because a relationship needs to be a two-way street, their devotion may irritate you. Even if you are rationalizing this relationship (I am not recommending it, but just to give you an example. Rationalizing can be: money, children, “it’s time”, “I should”, “I don’t want to be a spinster”, etc.), but your partner has real feelings, you need to understand very well why you need this relationship. In this case, you may still feel irritated, but you also realize why you are in this relationship.

In other words, you need to recognize – how do you feel about these men? Do you like them, or do you feel something else?

Now, about your main question: “Please help me figure this out – what is going on with me, how to deal with it? Is psychotherapy my only option? I realize that I, possibly, will not be able to build a healthy relationship.”

In order to “deal” with something, you need to understand the underlying reason. I pointed out some of the reasons above. Every reason requires its own solution.

We all have our roots in childhood. Perhaps, your despotic father and his behavior had a strong influence on you. Or perhaps not a very strong one. Therefore, if you notice that men who resemble your Dad get attracted to you – this is a reason to work on yourself. Because Dad behaved in a certain way, the child may get used to acting like a victim, or a savior, for example. When the person grows up, and if this trait is deeply ingrained, then in relationships, they will act the same way as they behaved towards their father. But I am just talking in general terms now. To summarize, if you notice that you are repeatedly acting in a way that you don’t like, or other people are always acting towards you in a way that you don’t like, this is a reason to start changing yourself for your own sake.

Take care of yourself!

Mindspa Consulting psychologist