Why You Always End Up With the Same Partner

It’s a common Hollywood movie theme. We all know people who can’t seem to get a romance off the ground. In the movies, the central character always picks the wrong partner and winds up alone at home. Yet by the end of the film, they find themselves meeting the “perfect partner.” In the real world though, people can wind up in the wrong relationship over and over again.

Why is this, and what can you do to avoid falling into this trap?

Look Towards Your Past

The first place to look when trying to understand why you repeatedly make poor relationship choices is to examine your past. The “baggage” that you carry may actually be the culprit. Some questions to consider:

  • What have your past relationships been like?
  • Are there any similarities or patterns in previous romantic partners?
  • Has there been a significant event that plays into your decision-making process?
  • Did you grow up with less than healthy relationships with either parent?

When we don’t understand and haven’t processed our past experiences, they have a way of bubbling back up to the surface. They can also significantly influence the way we live our life and the choices we make. These past experiences can dramatically affect how we choose and interact with our romantic partners and ultimately influence our relationships.

A Classic Example of Baggage’s Influence

Imagine a young woman who grew up with an angry and abusive father. As a result of these past traumatic experiences with her father, this woman may end up being attracted to partners who are more dominating and controlling. Her attraction to these qualities would not happen on a conscious level (she wouldn’t say to herself that she’s searching for a controlling & angry man). Psychologically, she may experience an unconscious drive to reenact this past dynamic with her father in her adult relationships.  (Freud referred to this phenomenon as “repetition compulsion.”)

In other words, she may be unconsciously driven to face, work through, and understand the trauma she experienced as an adult. Although she may not be able to “fix” her father, she could try to resolve and gain a sense of mastery over a similar difficulty with her current partner.

A Repeat of the Past

This woman’s baggage can keep her in this perpetual cycle of bad relationships. But the reason is that subconsciously she wants to find resolution to the trauma she experienced growing up. There are other ways to do this, such as:

  • She could break up with her partner (before she is subjected to any abusive behavior) allowing her to take a more active stance instead of being a victim.
  • She could become attracted to someone who is weaker and whom she can control.  However, this is just the other side of the same unhealthy relationship dynamic.
  • She could figure out and process the underlying dynamics that cause these patterns, without having to be in a relationship in the first place.

How Do We Stop or Prevent This Pattern?

There are ways that you can break this cycle of behavior and to even prevent it from starting in the first place. You can:

  • Strive to understand your part in how (and with whom) you choose to be in a relationship.  Get to the root of the problem by identifying the source and asking why this happens.
  • Start to become aware of the reasons why you make these decisions and realize you have the power to make healthier choices.

It can be difficult to take a hard, honest look at why you choose to be in certain relationships. However, you don’t have to do this alone.

Collaborating With a Therapist

A skilled therapist can be a helpful resource for you.  Together you can seek to understand why your relationships just are not working out for you.  This might involve working to resolve past traumatic events and previous experiences in order to gain perspective and a new understanding. That perspective can be invaluable for being able to find a healthy and loving relationship.

The baggage that you carry in life is the reason you repeatedly wind up with the same partner. However, there is a way to break this cycle. Through deep introspection on your own and with a therapist, you can understand why you decide to be with certain partners. This knowledge can not only help you with dating, but can also help you find the positive and caring partner that you deserve.

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