Welcome to The Art of Connection, a weekly series where you'll learn to have the most fulfilled life you could possibly imagine. Host Baya Voce is here talking why sometimes people end up with the same person over and over.
Do you ever wonder why you attract and are attracted to certain people and not others? Have you ever gotten out of a relationship only to end up in another relationship with the same issues, same troubles and same arguments? Or does your partner have alarmingly similar characteristics to a parent or caretaker?
Well, it's not an accident. My favorite person to reference to explain this is Psychiatrist Carl Jung. Jung is often talked about alongside Freud, only Jung's work emphasizes the importance of the individual psyche and the personal quest for wholeness.
Jung says everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
And if we want to know why we struggle with the things we struggle with in relationships, we don't need to look any further than at the relationships we had with our primary caregivers growing up.
A great author, Susan Elliot talks about this idea in a really simple way. She says:
if we want to know what is missing in us, what is lacking in us, what unfinished business we have, what our inner struggles are, we need not look further than the person we are involved with.
Elliot goes on to say: "our mates will reflect one of three things and sometimes more than one of these things:
1)What we are used to;, 2) What is unfinished business within us that we seek to conquer; and 3) Issues within us that we refuse to acknowledge."
So, take an abusive relationship for instance. A lot of times someone who is abused in an adult relationship has also been abused in their childhood. And while we think we are making rational decisions with our fully developed adult brain when we choose our partners, our subconscious has more at play than we realize. So, we attract these kinds of partners because it's subconsciously comfortable; it's familiar territory. And we're attracted to things that are familiar to us.
Say we had a parent who was never around... we'll likely attract someone with commitment issues or who is emotionally or physically unavailable. Maybe we even find we do best in long-distance relationships.
Another thing we'll do is pick a partner who is completely opposite from what is familiar to us, but then we'll do whatever we can do try to put them into the role that is familiar.
So for instance, a friend of mine just got out of a relationship where his partner had grown up in a household full of abandonment. For years my friend fought tooth and nail to show his partner he wasn't going to leave him. In the end, though his partner started abusing him, using drugs, and doing whatever he could to get my friend to leave. Finally, my friend had no other option but to leave and his ex is now able to play out the familiar story of "see, I told you so... everyone leaves me."
So whether you attract someone who has the same issues you grew up with or someone who doesn't have the familiar characteristics you're unconsciously yearning for, if we haven't healed these parts of ourselves, we will force the familiar outcome we know to be true from our pasts.
This is how we see repeated patterns of the same issues show up over and over again in different relationships. Whether they're drastic, like abuse, or more subtle, like choosing partners who can't commit.
But in order to heal childhood wounds that keep playing out in adulthood, we've got some work to do.
In Elliots words, "Our relationships are our best reflection of our emotional health. No relationship can be healthier than its sickest partner. If we are used to chaos and dysfunction, we will gravitate towards that. It is not only what we are used to but it keeps our minds off of what is wrong inside us."
So for example, if you've found yourself in a relationship with someone who has fears around commitment, look back at yourself and ask yourself if you're trying to finish unfinished business or maybe you're actually the one who has some fears around commitment that could be really useful to look into.
I also want to say that in these relationships where we aren't getting our needs met and are feeling like the victim, we actually get a payoff for being in these relationships. That payoff is often in the form of being able to play the victim role, which makes it much easier to avoid taking responsibility for our own actions and behavior. As long as we are the victim, we have someone else to blame... and that's a pretty big payoff.
I want to end with another great quote by Elliot.
"think of your own situation and what you own and take responsibility for it. Water seeks its own level. Look at your partner and learn from that what YOU need to work on in yourself and then GO DO THE WORK. You can learn much from doing your inventories, going to therapy and digging up what messages and seeds were planted long ago.
So there you have it, if you want to know what is not working in you, look at your relationship. It will reveal much to you.
Did you like this episode? If so, make sure to head to bayavoce.com and sign up for the email list where you'll get The Art of Connection episodes in your inbox every week to support you in living the most fulfilled life you could possibly imagine. Also visit www.Good4Utah.com/connection for a new episode every Wednesday at 10AM.
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