In the last post, titled What Do Your Past Partners Have in Common?, you learned that your past love partners are more similar than you thought. So today’s question is “WHERE are these positive and negative characteristics that you’re apparently attracted to coming from?”
The simple answer is that they’re coming from the desire to find that “perfect” match for you.
But that doesn’t tell you much does, it?
So now the question is, “WHY are you looking for these particular positive and negative characteristics in a potential partner?”
Before I give you the answer, let me ask you are you SURE you want to know? I’m asking because this may be really hard for some of you to handle? I mean, REALLY HARD.
Okay, make sure you’re sitting down, just in case what I’m about to share is a bit much.
What you’re looking for is someone who is like your mom, your dad or (wait, there’s hope…) like your primary caregiver.
Oh and by the way, it’s Harville Hendrixs that came up with this super- hard-to-swallow news based on his more than 40 years of experience helping couples as a relationship therapist.
Shock and Disbelief Might Be An Understatement Depending On The Upbringing You Had
If you’re sitting there in total shock and disbelief about what you just heard, trust me, I totally get it.
When I first learned that I was looking for someone like my parents, I was literally, like:
“You’ve GOT to be KIDDING me!!!”
But then I read the findings again and my train of thought was:
- “I know I never sought someone like my dad.”
- “Nor my mom.”
- “It must have been seeking someone like my grandmother.”
And it makes toooootal sense. You see, my grandmother is my adoration and out of 80+ grandkids she had, I was her favorite granddaughter. Talk about feeling special!
You betcha I was seeking a love like that! A love like that is worth treasuring!
This doesn’t mean that I was seeking someone to replace her or to love me exactly the way that she did, but what I mean is that in order for me to be the most happy and fulfilled in a relationship/marriage I NEEDED for my partner/husband to have as many of the positive traits that I considered special in my grandma and as few of the negative traits that she or any of my caregivers had.
And in case you’re new to this blog, this is the same grandma who would call me her “love” and her “treasure.” Words that were sooooo ingrained in me that it was what I automatically started calling my son when he was newly born. And that’s, in large part, how this blog was born.
Even though my grandma has passed on, to this day, if someone tells me, “I ADORE you” I get butterflies in my stomach. It’s one of the best things you can tell me.
Because if you think about it, people can love you but not show it. But if they tell you they adore you… that word “adore” in and of itself means that they KNOW how truly SPECIAL you are and that they treasure you in their hearts, minds and lives.
Do you now what I mean?
But Do I Only Value The Personality Traits That My Grandmother Had?
I hate to say it, but no.
I have one parent who has characteristics that I admire so much that I wish I had.
Before I say anything else, it’s important to note that while nobody consciously says, “Oh yeah, I need to find someone who has the worst qualities that my most hurtful parent has,” some people subconsciously end up choosing or attracting partners who have these undesirable qualities as a way to “heal” them.
But you’re not totally weak and defenseless when it comes to this attraction. You do have some control… mostly in the form of your consciousness, commitment to not settling, patience in finding the one and determination in keeping the faith.
In my case, for instance, marrying someone who had the characteristic I most despised from one of my parents was an absolute non-negotiable no-no for me.
I told myself “HELL no! NO WAY! It’s NOT gonna happen! I don’t need a lifetime of that despicable characteristic in my life. I’m skipping that for sure even though I might have to wait longer for the right guy to come along.” And I did have to gently weed out some people because I was not willing to compromise when it came to that. And thankfully, my deliberate intention paid off.
In this case, bringing this particular despicable characteristic to my consciousness as many times as I needed to ensure that I didn’t subconsciously pick out someone who had it helped me totally avoid it. And I’m truly thankful for that because it has helped me see that our upbringing doesn’t have to be perfect in order to create, attract and enjoy a loving relationship as adults.
But enough about me, let’s focus on you.
Having Trouble Admitting That You Wanted To Form A Committed Relationship With Someone Like Your Parents and/or Caregivers?
It’s toooootally normal.
Even Harville Hendrix himself says that most people have a hard time accepting this idea.
And it makes sense. We didn’t rebel against our parents throughout our lifetime for nothing, right?
But you and I know that the subconscious mind is really powerful and it pretty much is the motor behind most of your decisions.
Dr. Hendrix also says that despite our conscious intentions, MOST people are subconsciously attracted to people like our caregivers. (And remember that your caregiver could be a babysitter, or someone who like in my case, was in charge of me while my parents worked and was like a second mom).
You are/were attracted to your partner based on the negative and positive characteristics of the most influential people on the onset of your life.
For example, in my case, even though I was able to avoid that non-negotiable no-no does not mean that I escaped having ALL of the negative characteristics that my parents had. Wish that was the case, but it wasn’t. And truthfully, it’s NOT meant to be the case.
I have chosen in a partner someone who can trigger my childhood wounds. And I’m sure you have, too. It’s supposed to work that way. (I know, it sucks).
Even if you stop to think about ANY relationship, romantic or otherwise, any person is prone to saying something or doing something that can hurt you. It’s absurd to think that someone who you spend so much time with, like your romantic partner, for so many years is not going to hurt you.
Despite how awful the thought that you chose someone who can trigger your childhood wounds is, the beauty of it all is that this same person can learn to love you when you share how painful their actions are and can more than anybody, learn to reduce the amount of times they hurt you. And you can do the same for them. Relationships, after all, are a two-way street.
Are You Worried Sick That You Chose The Wrong Partner?
First of all, breathe.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Know that it was primarily your subconscious brain that was helping you chose the partner that you did.
It’s not the most logical part of you, that’s for sure.
It’s not what you would have chosen if you had more conscious awareness and control.
But your subconscious is also not evil.
Love is meant to be enjoyed. And the reason why you chose the person you did, who may or may not have provided you or be providing you joy is because you wanted to enjoy your life sooooo much since the beginning, since you were growing up, that it’s almost like your brain is trying to recreate your childhood through your partner so that the wrongs of your past that happen can be righted.
Maybe, just maybe, you find some comfort in the fact that your parents, no matter how perfect or imperfect they were for you, cared for you as much as was necessary for you to survive.
However, as a child you didn’t want survival, do you?
You wanted love.
Day and night.
So, the likelihood of you being 100% satisfied with the amount of love you received is super-slim.
So, as a result, what do you want the most from your partner?
And in many ways you want them to give you the love that you feel that you didn’t get as a child.
You want somebody who doesn’t need to love you, to really, really, really love you and make you feel as the special being you truly are.
Can anybody blame you for that?
I hope you see that there is truly a reason why things happened the way they did, and we’ll continue to explore if your love has hope or if it’s really truly lifeless. But for now, let’s take it one step at a time and focus on what we can control, right this second…. like participating in this next activity, for example.
So now, let’s find out whom your current partner/spouse or most significant partner in your life is MOSTLY like.
So Now It’s Your Turn
What did doing this activity reveal to you?
Leave your comments below.