Love is a choice.
I’m convinced that a profound conviction lies beyond emotions, sexuality, and attraction. Not only that we love who we love, but also that we choose to do so.
However, we oftentimes find ourselves choosing people who don’t choose us back. How often have we obsessed about someone who rejected us? How many times have we tried to make a relationship happen with a person who doesn’t want it to work? Or with a person who is already committed to someone else?
What about the crush who doesn’t like us back? Or the ex who broke our heart but we still tried to reconcile?
How frequently do we tend to fall for the “bad guy” or “bad girl”? And how many times have we called that pursuit a “sexy challenge”?
Even in marriages and relationships, this form of partial choice might be present. Our spouse might temporarily not choose us by giving us inadequate attention or validation.
Experiences differ, but the outcome is similar. We end up feeling unworthy of love, insecure, disappointed, and broken. Weirdly enough, we tend to repeat the same pattern over and over again with completely different people.
I know it’s distressing—I’ve relived a certain pattern myself for numerous years. But I also know in this situation that we tend to blame the other person or, at least, try to change them. The truth I have found, however, rarely has something to do with them.
It’s mostly all about us.
When we choose people who don’t choose us, know that there’s an old wound at play.
As much as we’d like it to be true, most of our childhoods were far from perfect. What we remember on the conscious level might be flawless to some degree—the family reunions, the toys, the laughter, the love. Nevertheless, there are other experiences (that we might or might not even remember), that jumped right into our subconscious mind and have lingered there into adulthood.
Joseph Murphy says, “Whatever you impress on the subconscious mind is expressed on the screen of space as conditions, experiences, and events.” Whatever was imprinted on our subconscious minds as children has deeply affected us without realizing it.
Maybe a sibling or a cousin had taken all the attention that we craved. As a result, we grew up feeling unworthy of love. One of our parents could have been emotionally distant or not present throughout our childhood. As adults, we end up giving too much or becoming too nice in order to keep people close.
An incident where we felt left out could have caused us a deep fear of abandonment. Now we have possibly become controlling or clingy, believing that could stop people from leaving us.
The scenarios are many. Each one of us has lived a different childhood, but most of us are living a similar adulthood. Through choosing those who don’t choose us, we relive the parts of us that were traumatized as kids.
I’m not sure why romantic relationships reflect our deepest wounds, but they do. Maybe because the field of intimacy is akin to the field of households. They both comprise a profound level of vulnerability, connection, and bonding. That said, our past childhood experiences inevitably affect our choice of partners.
Romantic relationships are the place where we can heal our wounds. But, as long as the wound remains, the pattern persists. Consequently, we need to forget about the ways we can change the other person. We should focus on how we can change ourselves.
When we heal our wounds, the other person will either change on their own or we will recognize the toxicity and leave.
One of the most important things to remember as we heal is that it’s nobody’s fault. It’s not our fault that we grew up with childhood traumas, because almost everybody does. And it’s certainly not our parents fault, because often they have done the best they can.
When you choose someone who doesn’t choose you, pause for a moment and remember the following:
Follow your intuition. Sometimes, we can become too clingy or dependent, which might push the other person farther away. Again, it’s not our fault—it’s only our emotional mechanism that’s trying to avoid rejection or abandonment. Our gut always tells us when we become too much. When you feel something’s wrong, stop. Shed awareness on your actions and tell yourself it’s only a pattern that you’re subconsciously repeating.
Visit your past and inspect your family closely. What are the painful memories that you recall from your childhood? Is there an incident in particular that still gets to you? Combine these with your family’s characters. As kids, we don’t pay much attention to others’ behaviors, but we certainly can as adults. What was your mother like? Was she too attached or detached from you? What about your father? Was he emotionally absent, controlling, or criticizing? What about your siblings? This way, we can have an idea of the environment in which we grew up and determine our wounds.
Don’t push the trauma down. Once you recognize your wounds, let them come to the surface. When we push them down, we increase the chances of repeating the same pattern again. To heal, we must come face to face with our pain. Remember that your spouse or crush is your practice. Pay attention to how you behave in their presence, what reactions they trigger within you, and how they make you feel about yourself.
You might also want to consider seeing a therapist, which is also a great alternative to self-healing. Therapists shed clear light on our childhood issues and help us work through them. Whether you choose therapy or self-healing, remember that every person we meet is part of our healing process.
We never meet people randomly.