Why We Choose The Relationships We Do

healthy relationships inner child healing Apr 08, 2021
man and woman intimately gazing into each other's eyes


Smart? Kind? Funny? Respectful? Strong? Passionate? Brave? A good listener? What’s on your list of qualities you desire in a relationship?


Now, when you look back on the characteristics of the partner or partners you’ve actually chosen for relationships past, do they sound like the ones you say you want?


If the two lists of qualities don’t match up, you are not alone. We’d like to think that we choose our relationships consciously and with pure intention and choice, but it’s actually rare that we do.


So, are you really choosing your relationships? Or are they choosing you?


Let’s rewind a bit and consider where all of this begins.



1. You have a drive for attachment.


Like all mammals, we as humans have an intrinsic drive and non-negotiable need for attachment; we yearn to connect and attach with other humans so as to feel love and connection and ensure that we are taken care of. But what if this need wasn’t met when you were growing up?


2. Your drive for attachment isn’t met.


An example of this that I love comes from Gabor Maté, and it goes something like this: What if your parents couldn’t handle your emotions and told you that “good kids” don’t cry or don’t get angry every time you expressed those emotions, and talked to you in a harsh way when you did? You might assume that as a result, you started to believe that good kids don’t get angry. But what actually happened is that you began to believe that sad kids or angry kids don’t get loved because in those moments, mom or dad wasn’t showing you love.


3. You learn to stifle certain parts of who you are as a result.



Because mom, dad, or your primary caregiver scolds you and removes their love as a result of you expressing your authenticity (e.g., by showing your emotions), you stop expressing your authenticity and start to disconnect from who you truly are.


4. You lose connection to yourself.


Because of this inner conflict, you keep losing connection to yourself. You get disconnected from your emotions, you lose touch with your body, you have trouble staying in the present moment, and you develop a negative view of yourself and of the world that starts to permeate your day-to-day life. You lose your Self.


5. You try to solve the problem of being disconnected to yourself.


The feeling of being disconnected from yourself in childhood stays with you and affects you from that day forward, into your adulthood. From your childhood, you are unconsciously being influenced by psychological and physiological processes that lead you to crave something in the short-term but that may have negative consequences for you in the long-term. This psychophysiological process happens with not only drugs and alcohol, but with relationships too. We all have different ways of trying to relieve the discomfort of this feeling. Some drink, use drugs, play cards and others shop, eat, and/or work or exercise excessively. Undoubtedly, many of us try to solve this problem of being disconnected to ourselves through our relationships.


Here we are– disconnected from ourselves and looking for a partner to share our life with. What do you think it is that we unconsciously look for?


What happens more often than not– and no one is immune to this– is that we become drawn to people who resemble the people (e.g., mom or dad) who hurt us and led us to feel disconnected from ourselves in the first place. We, unconsciously, want to heal and redeem these parts of ourselves and their previously unmet needs in relationships that mimic those where our past hurts originated. If we’re used to being around what we considered to be unloving and unsafe people in our past, we don’t know how to choose love and safety. In fact, if you look back, you might see that you’ve been drawn to people who– in one way or another– resembled one or both of your parents or primary caregivers in some way. Your (albeit unconscious and automatic) driving force in those relationships was to get your previously unmet needs met by someone else who would hopefully meet them this time.


Yes, your desired partner may have some very desirable qualities, yet in many ways (if we don’t do any inner work or healing around it, that is), the primary driving force behind your connection to another person will likely be an attachment between a hurt part of you and a hurt part of them. There may very well be other more functional forms of connection there too, but believe it or not, most of the time, relationships can be seen through the notion of “I find comfort in your dysfunction, and you find comfort in my dysfunction.”


There it is.


You are so capable of love that feels good, yet our world is plagued by childhoods that just didn’t feel loving thanks to parents who didn’t have their needs of attachment met too. Many of us didn’t have this essential need met and because it’s non-negotiable, we go looking for it our entire lives.


Is a more functional connection possible?


Is a more functional connection possible? Absolutely! The opportunity for each of us lies in what we do once we acknowledge that these are the processes running below the surface of our lives. The healing, the happiness, and the improvements in our relationships come when we regain connection to ourselves and can therefore be in greater and truer connection to our romantic partner. We can learn to be drawn to a partner that is in fact not similar to, but quite opposite from, our parent or other caregiver that left us with unmet needs- and this can be incredibly healing. We hurt in relationships and we heal in relationships too.

We hurt in relationships and we heal in relationships too.

If you’re ready to start choosing your relationships from your core self rather than from the perspective of your previously unmet needs, reach out and apply for my 1-on-1 coaching program. It’s the fastest and most effective way to start to get back to yourself right away, and it’s the exact process that helped me personally heal and cultivate healthy and happy relationships in my own life.


If you’re curious to learn more about this and other topics that affect your relationships and your life each and every single day– and get masterful tips on how to improve them– join me in my virtual community, The Happiness Hub, where we’ve got a community of people just like you devoted to doing the inner work that creates an outer world of happiness in our relationships and in our lives.


I will see you there!


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