One of our most essential needs as human beings is to love and be loved. Since we are wired for relationships from the moment we enter the world, one would think it would be easy to pick partners that suit us well. But the truth is, many people repeatedly pick the wrong partner and end up feeling unhappy (and perhaps utterly pained) in their relationship. For some, it’s easy to walk away from a relationship when it’s not right but for others, not so easy. Many people stay in relationships and are even aware of their unhappiness as they know deep down that their partner is not the right one.
In my psychotherapy practice two of the most common themes I hear among my clients when discussing romantic partnerships are: “Why do I keep choosing the wrong partner?” and “Why do I stay in relationships that make me unhappy?” These are important and complex questions that can only be answered when we take a hard look at ourselves. There are multiple reasons that motivate how we choose our partners and why we stay in dead end relationships—some of these reasons are conscious while others are unconscious. In order to understand what motivates our choices we have to be willing to work on ourselves and build awareness around our patterns.
I want to address some of the factors that may lead us into unhappy partnerships, and what keeps us in them. Once we have a sense of why we choose the way we do, we put ourselves in a better position to make conscious choices and to shift our negative patterns. This will help us get on the trajectory of finding a healthy whole relationship.
Reason #1: Fear
We can all relate to making choices out of fear: deciding whether or not to ask your boss for a raise, confronting someone we feel angry at, and, very commonly, staying in a relationship we know (on some level) is not right for us. Fear is one of the worst decision makers when it comes to choosing a partner. As instant gratification seekers, we thrive on the fantasy of the sparkly life experiences —the grand engagement, wedding, a house, and babies; we just figure we’ll deal with the rest (ie. our relationship struggles) later.
THERE COMES A POINT WHERE WE NEED TO MAKE A CHOICE: WE EITHER CHOOSE TO VALUE OUR OWN WORTH OR WE DON’T. YOUR PARTNER CANNOT FILL THIS VOID.