You attract what you are.
This frequently shared piece of life and relationship advice is often difficult for people who repeatedly experience mistreatment in relationships to buy into. Based on their experiences, they have come to believe the following:
The more kind, loyal and loving you are, the more attractive you become to those who are the opposite—mean, unfaithful, abusive and dishonest.
We often hear the “people take advantage of me because I am a good person” sentiment from clients who resist accountability for a repeating pattern of unhealthy relationships. It goes something like this: “I’m a kind, honest, loyal, giving, loving person. Why do I always attract users, cheaters, losers, liars and abusers?”
“If we attract what we are,” they ask, “why are the most loving people treated so poorly in relationships?”
This might make sense at first blush, but the logic fails when we present those making this argument with an inconvenient truth:
What you are includes WHAT YOU TOLERATE.
Committing to a lifestyle defined by a set of values, such as honesty and loyalty (i.e. deciding “who you are”), is not only about what you embrace, but also what you reject. It’s not just about what you choose to be; it’s also about what you choose to accept from others. It means understanding, for example, that liars are not so much attracted to your honesty, as they are to your willingness to treat them as if they were honest, even when they are not. If you tolerate dishonesty, you are not living a lifestyle of honesty, even though you may be an honest person yourself.