Why we choose people who aren’t good for us (and how to break the chain)
Ever wondered if you are the only one falling for the wrong people all the time? That guy who doesn’t seem interested in getting to know you properly, or that girl who seems emotionally distant?
Well, fear not, because you are not alone and we’ve got tips for you.
A lot of us often think we’re getting into a great, sustainable relationship, only to find out a couple of months in, (once those love hormones AKA oxytocin wears off), or even years later, that our partner isn’t actually all that compatible with us after all.
It might be having different interests, or beliefs and values from our partner, that can let us know “Hey…maybe they aren’t actually THAT good for me.”
But what made us choose those partners, to begin with? What draws us to individuals who are less attainable and don’t meet our emotional needs, and pass over prospective partners who are much more suited to those ideals we strive for? If this is what we are doing, can we really trust our instincts when it comes to finding a partner?
Not to sound too Freud-esque here, but we do love along grooves formed during childhood…
Your caregivers are our first intro to love after all, so it makes sense why we would choose partners who possess similar qualities.
Some research says that we do this because we believe that love is complex and challenging, and someone that already meets our values would pretty much be a snooze fest in the long run. At our core, we believe love to be about suffering (huh?!) and therefore we choose someone who will make this happen AKA the person who, as heartbreaking as it might be, just ain’t it.
So, how do we break this cycle? And what should we be looking for instead in a partner? The truth is, we can’t always help who we are attracted to (thanks biology and early stages of our life which we also have no control over).
At the end of the day, we’re all human, we all have our own unique needs, desires and preferences and therefore, our “types,” and hey, it’s fine. But is it okay to compromise on finding someone that meets our core values just because they are our “type?”
Short answer, probably not.
If you’re sick of choosing people who you know aren’t *good* for you, or ending things prematurely with people who actually share your values and meet your needs, then there are a few things that you can do.
Indigo’s tips for choosing more compatible partners
- Consider what values you want your partner to have – These are often things that you yourself have, or strive to have. E.g., compassion, generous, caring for the environment, etc.
- Think about what you find attractive in a partner, both inside and out – Are these things essential, or can you bend a bit on them?
- Think about what you don’t find attractive, and what would put you off about a potential partner. E.g., selfishness, stubborn, being disrespectful, or not being a family person. Obviously, these are different for everyone, so have a think about ones that are deal-breakers for you. Having these ideas written down can be particularly important when we are faced with situations where we need to question the fit of our relationships.
- Worry more about if you like them rather than if they like you – might sound strange because we often find ourselves more concerned if we are putting our best foot forward rather than if they are what we are looking for! At the same time, remember that your date might also be nervous so giving them a chance to come out of their shell is important before shutting down the idea of a second date too.
- Keep an open mind about potential partners who meet our needs and core values – they may not be addressing every aspect of our typical “type”, or may not be playing hard to get). Sounds easy right? I think that we all know that it’s not. For some of us, we go into situations already deciding that it’s going to be a shit night, or we’re going to be awkward and not get along with our date, or that they are going to be a loser. When we do this, we are closing ourselves off to any sort of potential. It’s hard for our brains to reverse these negative ideas once we have them set, so basically, we are stopping ourselves from being open-minded from the get-go.
A sweet reminder for anyone who has recently ended a romantic relationship: (who may or may not be looking to take the plunge of dating)
First up, just because it has ended does not mean it was all for nothing or that you didn’t “try hard enough.” You did try, and because of this relationship, you have grown. Breakups are never easy and it may hurt like hell now, but try to bring yourself back to the WHY it ended (easier said than done of course). You may write yourself notes when the waves of emotion are at low tide to remind yourself.
And hey, if you have ended things amicably, there may be a chance in the future that you both might even be friends. Or not. There’s no textbook way of handling these things. Your situation is unique.
PSA: You don’t *need* to go looking for anyone to fill the void either. You are very much capable and stronger than you think on your own. But if you are thinking about taking the dating plunge these tips may come in handy.
However, if you think getting professional help will benefit you during a breakup or finding a new partner, we are here to assist. You can get in touch with our Indigo practitioners who are relationship experts. They will offer you a therapeutic space to work through any issues you may be experiencing regarding your relationships.
This post was written by @laurabeddoe Provisional psychologist and Indigo’s freelance content creator.