Sunday, September 30, 2007

Can you change your type?

A recent date asked me this question. We were talking about relationships, type, how you get drawn to the same personalities in different packages over and over.

This began because we were talking about people who are really, really driven. And I said in my experience with really successful men, all of them are driven either by anger or fear. Predominantly anger.

He didn't necessarily agree. What, he wanted to know, was I talking about?

I used, as an example, the Dementor, who I'd recently seen. And when we were together, I told him that he was the most anger-driven person I know. He said, "What else is going to get you up at 5 am and keep you working till 11 pm?"

And so this date asked, "Do you think you can change your type?"

My answer was, "I don't know, but I hope so."

I've given it some genuine and intense thought, and vacillate between no, you can't, you absolutely can't, and sure, as you learn and grow, of course you can.

I'd like to think that the answer is yes. That as I figure myself out more, and understand the reasons behind the choices I make, I can make better ones. My dad, my brother, and the Dementor are probably the angriest men I've ever been close to. My brother has no idea the extent of his anger. I'm certain he doesn't admit the depth and breadth of it even to himself.

Yeah, I know. Shocking to choose men like your father and your brother. How banal to be such a cliche.

And so I think, now that I understand why I've chosen some of these people, I can choose different ones. The answer is yes.

But I'm afraid the answer is no. The ones who get me really intensely, who pull me in and make me care - they're invariably the difficult upbringing, angry ones. It's not that they're angry for no reason, and in some ways - winning in sports, winning in their careers, for example - the anger is really useful. But it's so malignant.

Now that I know what to look for, I spot it more quickly. And now I get the "why" of some of the guy who grab my interest. Some of them are really good at keeping it buried, and so I might already like them before I figure it out. Which is why, when I like someone, I begin to look for it.

Incredibly smart, intense, angry men? There are a lot of them. And they're often so compelling.

Which would mean the answer is no.


  1. This makes me wonder what the common thread is between the men I have loved......

  2. Some chick once said that when she changed herself and how she viewed herself it changed the men she atracted. That's when she met the right guy and he wasn't her usual type.

  3. It really is hard to break a pattern, I think. But I do think it's possible. In my experience, the guys who were the worst for me I was attracted to like a drug at first -- like this line from "Tell Me You Love Me" last night. But when that wore off, I realized how little there was to our relationship. I think realizing that makes me more likely to back off when that's the primary feeling a guy gives me.

  4. I think it's true women naturally gravitate toward men similar to their fathers or brothers, at least certain characteristics.

    I do believe one can change type - happiness has infitine defitions and no two people are alike.

  5. I choose men who are like my mother, apparently. Take THAT, Freud.

  6. DCup - I don't suppose there has to be a common thread, but I assume there might be one.

    Red - Good point. Some of it is who you attract, but it's not that these are the only men I attract - they're just who affect me most.

    Jess - Yah, I think the more aware you are of how people affect you, the more able you are to figure out what works and why.

    HKW - I'm glad to hear that. I think that should be right.

    Dagny - Interesting. Yes, take that, Freud.

  7. Perhaps the issue is your inability to admit that you really want someone to take care of you.

    You want to be a housewife.

    You are ashamed to admit it.

    Get over yourself, quit looking for a sugardaddy and look for a partner - an equal.

  8. Anon - Oh, my god, thank you so much for commenting anonymously and sharing your insight! I so appreciate hostility and anger! If you're a guy I could probably love you! Oh, and also? Grow some anonymous balls.

  9. a sugardaddy. ah hahaha. too funny.

    this is a really interesting question - i think the psychology side of it is probably a tough thing to overcome. but like you said, it's more about how you react to people than how they react to you, so it seems like something that, in the end, could be malleable.

    one of the more useful psychological tidbits that i've picked up in my short life is that feelings are only that - feelings. we often think we're at the mercy of them merely because they exist -people say "i am mad" when they really mean "i feel mad." but just because you "feel" mad doesn't mean you have to "be" mad - you actually have control over the movement from point a to point b there.

    what's my point? i guess just that things that seem utterly out of our control are often much more tame-able than we think.

  10. fyi - I'm not anon. I just don't have a blogger ID, so...

    I have to strongly disagree with you on this one (and I really enjoy reading your blog).

    You can change your type. But it's not just an "I choose to like X now instead of Y." Without quoting any great psychologists or anything, I'd say the key to this is deciding who you want to be in the future and what kind of person is standing next to you in that vision.

    I say all this b/c I consider myself one who changed her type. I dated all kinds of the same loser for years and, of course, couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting where I wanted to go.

    So, I stopped.

    and I figured out where I wanted to be in 5, 10, 15 years. And I figured out what kind of guy fit in that vision.

    so, I went back to get my MBA, and while there, I accepted a date from a not as tall as I'd like, kind of balding, actually owned a car and had a real career and 2 parents who were still married, Big 10 lovin', Mr. Laidback (to my Type A+) guy. (go big 12!)

    And now we're married with an 18 month old daughter. and I love my career and relationship and home.

    Don't get me wrong, we fight like any one else and we're not the white picket fence types either... But it works, and it's right. and you can do it.

    btw - we live in downtown Chicago... maybe making the move will be the catalyst for you, too. worked for me.


  11. kate.d. - Thank you. It's true - things that seem out of our control aren't, and feelings are temporary. And can be shifted.

    Carrie - Wow - this was very useful and gives me a lot to think about. And to work on. I so appreciate you sharing this with me.

  12. maybe if you put out more, you wouldn't seem so bitter?


  13. Also to Carrie - I'm so glad that you've found a good guy and a happy situation!

  14. I know Anon/Carrie very well and now I think about it, she's definitely proof one can change their type, be happy and never look back.

  15. Lisa,

    I know I'm coming to this party a day late, but this post has been percolating through my brain. Especially this part: "And I said in my experience with really successful men, all of them are driven either by anger or fear. Predominantly anger."

    There is no "anger or fear." Scratch the surface of an "angry" person and you'll find fear -- usually the fear of losing control, fear of losing dignity.

    There's nothing wrong with fear and anger, unless you're driven by them. Being driven by fear and anger makes a person (or a dog) dangerous -- not only to his adversaries, but also to his loved ones and himself.

    So, second, I have to wonder what "success" is that only toxic males can achieve it. Certainly not Darwinian success -- emotional toxicity doesn't help one mate and raise successful offspring (clearly).

    For that matter, "getting up at 5 am and working till 11 pm" doesn't make a person successful. Lots of people do that just to keep their heads above water.

    A man in the red zone, controlled by fear and anger, is not living but surviving. No matter the trappings he possesses, the guy who isn't content isn't successful.

    No amount of intelligence can substitute for self-awareness. No matter the toys he has, the guy who acts out of fear is still a child. Maybe that's why they get you really intensely, pull you in and make you care.



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