Some say that you can’t control your own attraction. The notion is that we are all wired to be attracted to the types we are attracted to, and we simply need to accept and live with it. What comes to mind is a recent pop song, “The Heart Wants What it Wants.” Okay, maybe it does, but your bills want you to rob a bank, so how much does “wanting” really matter? Sometimes the things we want aren’t good for us. While you may be unconsciously attracted to some people – pulled, even when you know that person isn’t good for you – you can find ways to reduce the pull and resist the attraction.
We’ll get right to it: The most effective way to stop being attracted to someone who isn’t good for you is to use the mental technique of refocusing. When you think about that person or are with them and feel the pull, you need to replace your existing thoughts with other healthier thoughts.
Figure out what the heck you are so attracted to in that person who isn’t good for you.
First, understand that your attraction – the pull – is probably either primarily physical or emotional. If it’s physical, it is obvious what the attraction is about. If it is emotional, your attraction could be for one of these reasons: you see that person as happier, more likable, better, etc. than you and you want to be around them so you can become more like that; you see that person as “cooler” or more interesting than you; you see that person as unemotional or withholding and you want to win them over; or you see them as depressed, sad, self-destructive, etc. and that makes you want to save or rescue them.
The list of possible reasons is endless, of course, but the reasons I highlighted are some of the most common ones. If you are someone who feels the need to learn how to stop being attracted to someone, one of the reasons I mentioned probably applies to you (at least a little bit).
Counter sexual, romantic or positive thoughts with immediate negative ones.
There are several things you can say to yourself to redirect your feelings and focus on reality instead of fantasy – or what your heart wants. I will list examples of things you can say to yourself when you feel the pull so that you can detach and resist the person who isn’t good for you. “Just because I’m attracted to someone doesn’t mean that my attraction to them is a good thing.” “The way they look on the outside is great, but what’s on the inside is less appealing.” “I need to find someone who makes me feel less anxious or insecure, not more.” “Am I supposed to be chasing someone?”
Think about the qualities of your best friends.
When you think about your friends, what do you like about them? How do they treat you? Are they reliable and trustworthy, or do they make you feel bad and play games with you? Odds are that your friends are your friends because you get along easily with them and you treat each other with respect. Most importantly, you probably feel (emotionally) safe with them. The point is to think about why you use good judgment in choosing friends but end up using different criteria in deciding who you seek out for dating and relationships. Think about the qualities you are drawn to for your friendships and start looking for those same qualities in the people you seek out romantically.
Write about your romantic penchants.
An effective way to change anything is to write about it. By writing things down, we organize our thoughts and get to the root of a problem. Start by writing about why you believe you ever became attracted to someone who isn’t good for you in the first place. Did your parents model that? Do you think you suffer from low self-esteem? Do you actually trust boyfriends or girlfriends in relationships, or do you secretly believe love never works out or that you will always end up feeling disappointed or even betrayed? Write down your thoughts and feelings, and you will instantly gain some self-awareness in doing so.
A final question to ask yourself…
Ask yourself this: “Are relationships really supposed to be this frustrating or unfulfilling, or am I simply looking for love in all the wrong places?”
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.