Why Do We Pick Difficult Partners?

Theoretically speaking, we should be able to choose our life partner according to personal preference. After all, the days of arranged marriages and match-making are long gone. However, as it turns out, the choice might depend on more than feelings of love alone.

As experts from Silicon Wives explain, our relationship choices are strongly affected by our childhood. Specifically, people tend to seek partners who recreate the feelings and treatment they received as children. This is why you see so many quotes about how people choose partners similar to their parents. As weird (and scary) as it sounds, your psychological history strongly predisposes you to fall in love with certain people.

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Why Your Psychological History Matters?

In their childhood years, people learn how to express and deal with emotions. Later in life, we tend to look for a companion that gives us a familiar, home-like feel. But the feelings imbibed in our childhood are usually not all roses. Besides the feelings of tenderness and kindness, many children experience loneliness, depression, and a sense that their needs aren’t adequately provided for and valid.

During our early years, all those negative emotions predispose us to fall for partners that make us feel familiar. Often, this “familiarity” refers to a partner who makes you feel not good enough or one that puts you in a caregiver position.

It may sound unreasonable to choose a partner who doesn’t give us enough validation. But what they give us is the satisfaction of the complexity of love engraved in our psyche.

For example, if one’s parents abused alcohol, the chances are that the child had to take care of them daily. No matter how psychologically scarring it was, later in life, that person will probably love and feel appropriately attached to an individual who also requires more attention.

How To Deal With Difficult Partners?

People can often see that their relationship is getting difficult or starts becoming the exact thing they wanted to avoid. But ending the relationship and finding someone “better” will usually have a similar outcome and end with you falling for a similarly difficult partner all over again.

Instead of changing the types of people you date, it is much better to rewire how you respond to your partner’s psychologically negative behavior.

The biggest problem is that we tend to respond to negative behaviors in the relationship the same way we did as children. But as adults, we must be mature and intentional in our actions and go against our gut reactions.

For example, if a parent raises their voice at a child because of their inferior position, a child would shrink down and accept that they are guilty. However, in a relationship, things are not always black and white. We all carry emotional baggage and live under a lot of stress, making us react irrationally.

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It is important to ask our partners why they feel like the situation is our fault and let them know that even though their emotions are heard and valid, they are not always right.

That way, instead of changing one another, you and your partner will recognize and address the problematic issues and be able to deal with challenges that will come your way sooner or later.

Another way is to adapt to your partner. We cannot change people, but we can change our reactions to them. It takes two to tango – every argument requires two participants. You may not always be the cause of the quarrel, but ask yourself how your actions contribute to the fight.

Sometimes your partner may raise their voice because the situation triggered their childlike defensive modes. In that situation, instead of responding angrily, tell yourself, “it’s OK, we can get through this,” and choose to leave the conversation.

After your partner cools down, don’t tip-toe around the issue and communicate your concerns directly. Like they have a right to feel and act in a certain way, you have a valid right not to agree with their behavior. 

By reacting and speaking up, you give yourself and your partner a chance to move from a childlike to an adult pattern of response to challenging situations.

Why Is Finding A Partner So DIfficult?

The hardest part of finding a suitable partner is understanding that each individual comes with their own emotional baggage set. Our childhood history strongly predisposes us to fall for certain people and often follow destructive behavior patterns.

When facing a problematic relationship partner, people should try to resolve the challenges rather than end a relationship right away. Even if your gut tells you differently, as adults, you have much bigger problem-solving and interpersonal capabilities than in your childhood years.

It doesn’t mean that you should settle for anything less than a proper and fulfilling relationship, but it’s essential to understand that every person battles their demons from the past. A happy relationship is when the partners support and validate each other’s needs and shortcomings and behave maturely in immature and childlike situations (and full of love and commitment, obviously).

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