By Team BLAM
We tend to pick a partner who is most like the parent from whom we wanted additional love, attention, acceptance, and praise as a child. The reason? We still want to receive what we desired or deserved to have as a child. When we pick a partner similar to one or both of our parents, we’re striving to heal childhood wounds. Even if our partner is not like a parent, we’ll often re-create the scene so our partner acts or we imagine them to act like our parent, so hopefully we can now have what we needed as a child. As we begin to recognize that this “same old dance” doesn’t work for us, or our partner, we can then take responsibility for ourselves. We can either choose to ask our partner for what we need or hope for, or we can choose to find the wisdom and courage to find healthy ways to give it to ourselves.
When we do this we can stop expecting our partner to be our “parent” and we can stop being the “child” in the relationship. This is so imperative to helping us meet our partner on equal territory and discover healthy ways to meet each other’s needs.
When we know the type of partner we tend to attract, we can take better responsibility for choosing wisely. When you really take the time to look at your past relationships you may be surprised how many similar characteristics and negative traits are in the partners you’ve had.
If you really want to understand your relationship patterns you have to be prepared to do THE WORK. 🙂 “What work?” you ask. You have to be intentional about looking at and thinking about who you are and how you’ve been shaped by all of your life experiences. Here are some first steps to truly looking at and understanding your relationship patterns.
#1 Examine Your Parent’s Marriage History
Write down a clear account of what did and did not work in your parent’s marriage. This is not about judgement. Be an observer, as if you were watching a movie of your parents’ marriage, divorce, or relationships.
#2 Examine Your Relationship History.
Here’s where you write down an account of what did and did not work in each of your primary relationships.
- Start with the relationship you had with each of your parents.
- Then write about the first person you were in an intimate relationship with.
- Lastly, write about each significant relationship that followed. This does not have to be every person you dated. Pick the relationships that meant something. Focus on the ones you had a real connection with.
#3 Compare Relationships.
Compare your parent’s relationship with your major intimate relationships. Do you see certain trends, themes, or patterns? What patterns do you find yourself repeating? This is not to blame anyone from your past. It is to give you insight on how you have learned to do relationships so that you can choose to do them differently.
The lesson here? What did not work does not need to be repeated. Look back so you can free yourself and move forward!
Adapted from Journey To Love by M.P.Wylie, Ph.D.