Why We Choose The People We Love
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to
repeat it.” George Santayana
“Why do I always wind up with the wrong person? I want
someone who is kind, loving, reliable and open. Yet my
relationships are always with men who are angry, hostile,
emotionally unavailable and cannot keep a job.”
“I want a woman who is emotionally stable and independent, but
I always wind up with women who are overly dramatic, tend to
hysteria and depend on me to make their decisions.”
These are common problems brought to me by clients.
They blame bad luck, coincidence or accident for winding up
with the exact opposite of the type of person they say they
prefer in a relationship.
One very attractive female marketing manager in her
mid thirties agonized - “If I went to a party and there were
fifty men in the room - and 49 were college graduates who were
business or professional men - and the 50th was a high-school
dropout with a felony police record - number 50 and I would
somehow find each other.”
We make our relationship choices based on life experiences
accumulated from childhood. We subconsciously integrate
these experiences and react from them to current situations.
Children’s psyches are like unwritten slates. The messages
we receive from our parents are stored upon them as if etched
in stone. We internalize these messages and accept them without
question as we mature because in the child’s mind, mommy and
daddy - who are our ultimate authority figures - said it is so!
When a little girl has a father who is physically present but
emotionally absent and does not provide her with the love and
nurturing she needs, she will grow up with a big empty space in
her heart where that love should have been. The message -
although unspoken - tells her that she is not important and
not deserving of love.
This little girl will subconsciously seek a man with her
father’s rejecting characteristics - so she can relive her
initial relationship - and this time she will win.
When a little boy grows up with a weak and dependent
mother who increasingly leans on him in his father’s
absence, he is put in an adult situation inappropriate to
his years. Although in manhood he states he resents female
dependency, he is used to taking the role of rescuer and naturally
will gravitate to women with emotional broken wings that need
In our adult relationships, we seek to create situations in which
we are comfortable - regardless of their dysfunctionality. If
you grew up in a chaotic home, you will subconsciously tend to
chaotic relationships. Our home environment, how we were
raised, is what we consider normal.
Our adult relationships follow a pattern. A simple exercise
will reveal that pattern to you. Write the names of all of the
people with whom you have had a significant relationship.
Under each name, list all the negative characteristics you can
remember - for instance: bad temper, continually late for
dates, poor money manager, etc.
After you have completed your list, review the character
traits that are shared by your dating partners. Circle or
yellow high-lite these recurring traits and you will see the
emergence of a pattern.
While discussing the concept of this article with a friend,
she was motivated to make the list and was uncomfortable
with the fact that these traits stood out among her three past
serious relationships: aggressive personality, alcoholism,
and emotional unavailability.
I helped my friend work thru her feelings about this new
realization as I did with my clients. Awareness of the pattern
is the first step to changing it. Talking about it with a therapist
or trusted friend is the next important step because you are
then exposing this destructive pattern to the light and can
carry this awareness with you when you begin your next
Be assured - patterns are not etched in stone. They can be
changed with awareness and work.
About the Author
Terri Arnold, MS (Spicy Grandma) has been a Psychotherapist for over twenty years. She has also owned and operated a brick and mortar dating service. Terri invites you to visit her friendly, interactive and informative 50+ dating community at http://www.spicy-senior-singles.com.
Terri Arnold, MS (Spicy Grandma)