August 20, 2020

The Real Reason We Choose Partners Just Like Our Parents.

 Alex Iby/Unsplash

At some point or another, you’ve probably met someone who just seemed so familiar—as if you’d known them all your life.

You may feel your love for each other must be destined—written in the stars—and you’re giddy with all of the commonalities and seemingly magical connections and coincidences the two of you share when you’re together.

As you might have guessed by now, I’m going to tell you that the reason this person seems so familiar to you is because, well…they are.

In some way (or many ways), they are just like one of your parents or guardians or caretakers who raised you. But chances are, and this part may come as a surprise, it isn’t the parent/caretaker you were closest to. It’s the one you found the most challenging.

In my practice as a hypnotherapist, I have helped navigate many individuals through unhealthy relationships only to discover that they go and find another partner that is almost the mirror image of the previous one—if not physically, then for sure psychologically. And then the cycle would begin again.

About 90 percent of the time, the patient believes themselves to be the cause of the problems in these unhealthy relationship cycles because they notice the same toxic patterns emerge time after time after time, but with different partners. So, of course they think it must be their fault! (The other 10 percent tend to blame everyone else for their problems and wouldn’t notice even if it was their fault, because they are somewhere on the narcissism spectrum—but this article isn’t for them).

What if I told you that the reason you’re choosing these partners that seem so similar to each other, as well as to one of your parents or caretakers, is because your subconscious mind is trying to create resolution and closure in order to finally move you past these toxic cycles—by recreating their origins?

Sound crazy? Let me explain:

Let’s say your parent/guardian withheld love from you as a form of punishment, gave you the silent treatment, and just generally made sure you feel inferior.

Then, you grow up and choose a partner who seems so incredible, so amazing, and so “meant for you,” right up until the first big conflict—and then suddenly that person isn’t speaking to you. You get over it, all is well, but pretty soon that person starts belittling and demeaning you in subtle ways. If you accept it, all is well for a while longer, but if you address it, your partner begins withholding affection. You begin to feel unlovable.

Or, let’s say your parent/guardian never made time for you. He promised he’d be there for your big game or recital over and over, and then didn’t show. You could tell he was only pretending to be interested in whatever you were saying, because his “Uh huh” and “Mm” began to ring hollow. You felt unimportant and unworthy of attention.

Then, you grow up and find a partner who gives you all of the attention you could ever want and it feels amazing, right up until something else captures their attention, and then that shiny new thing upstages you, and you once again feel unimportant and unworthy.

In both of these hypothetical scenarios, not only does the partner seem familiar and share similarities with your parent/caretaker, but the way you feel is also eerily familiar—because it’s exactly how you felt when you were four years old, or maybe five, or eight, or eleven years old.

Your subconscious mind “tricked” you into being attracted to, as well as attracting, partners who would provide the greatest opportunity to grow out of those painful feelings you had as a young child. (And yes, pretty much all young children feel these painful feelings at some point or another regardless of how amazing their parents were. It’s just part of the wiring of a child’s brain.)

In other words, if you could somehow just get your partner to stop giving you the silent treatment and instead give you constant affection and praise, then it would heal all of those old wounds—or so your subconscious mind thinks.

Or, if you could get that partner to prioritize you over all others, listen intently to everything that comes out of your mouth, and show up for you whenever you expect, then you would finally feel loved and worthy, right?

Well, no. Not exactly. Sigh.

Your subconscious mind came up with these rather inventive ways of trying to get you the resolution and closure you need, long before you were actually old enough to even consider having an intimate partner. Your four, or seven, or whatever-year-old young child brain thought to itself, “Just wait until I grow up! I’ll never be ignored again!” or “I’ll show them! When I grow up everyone will love me!”—or something to that effect.

And it stuck. For a long, long time. Some of us longer than others. (I didn’t figure this out until I was 50. Yikes!)

And let’s face it—unhealthy and imbalanced relationships, which these are because they’re filled with all that old wiring that needs to be resolved, don’t tend to be healing. Not immediately, anyway.

Later, maybe, once we’re able to gain some time, distance, clarity, and self-awareness, but in the present, they actually tend to reinjure us by reinforcing those painful and misguided beliefs we formed about ourselves when we were just little kids.

So, what’s the solution, you ask?

We have to talk directly to the part of our subconscious mind that holds these toxic, painful, limiting beliefs and we have to create that resolution and closure for ourselves. Once that’s done, we need to reinstall new, healthy beliefs.

If there’s one thing I learn every single day as a hypnotherapist, it’s that whatever can be learned can also be unlearned and whatever can be placed can also be replaced.

Sure, hypnotherapy is one method of tapping directly into your subconscious mind, but it’s certainly not the only method. There’s also meditation and different types of energy healers, as well as art and music therapies.

Whatever method you choose, and I’m sure there are many more than just the few I’ve mentioned here, the important thing is to do this on your own, rather than expect your partner to heal you.

And whether you work through all of this and have the most amazing, fulfilling relationship with your current partner, or you find yourself single again, you’ll know that your relationship choices and decisions from here on out will be yours—and not the remnants of some old wiring that was never true to begin with.


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