Do We Really End Up Marrying Our Parents?

Do We Really End Up Marrying Our Parents?

It may seem like a peculiar thought, but the behavior of finding partners like our parents is not as odd as it may seem. For most people, the first twenty years of our lives are spent with our parents or guardians. For better or for worse, they inevitably shape the way we function in our subsequent relationships.

Because how we love is heavily influenced by how we were raised, emotional patterns from childhood manifest in our relationships. Whether we adhere to or rebel against those early experiences, our beliefs and attitudes towards love are in response to them.

But that still begs the question: why are we attracted to people who are like our parents?


Familiar Territory

The clue is in the word itself.

We seek out and find comfort in what we already know; most of the time, it’s not even a conscious choice. We make decisions automatically because our line of thinking, or lack thereof, can become habit—some people have a difficult time saying I love you, while others just casually add it at the end of goodbye.

What we find attractive may just be our brains wired to go for what we are accustomed to—something recognizable, like home. This doesn’t necessarily mean a desire to be with someone who is a carbon copy of our parents, be it in looks or in personality; but it’s likely that we find someone who shares their emotional temperament.

Still, while this inclination towards the familiar is one thing, there’s more to it than we realize.


Turn Back Time

One of the reasons we may find ourselves in relationships with people who have emotional dispositions similar to that of our parents’ is because we are trying to rewrite the wrongs.

It goes without saying that we all have personal hang-ups with our parents, in different ways and in varying degrees. When we find ourselves drawn to partners who share characteristics with our parents, regardless of whether these attributes are good or bad, we may unwittingly be trying to relive and fix conflicts we had with them.

We can’t reverse time, so we attempt to correct the mistakes of the past by pursuing a new conclusion with someone akin to the parental figure we clashed with instead. It serves as a second chance at creating a happier ending—especially since this time around, we have a better grasp on communication and a greater understanding of relationships.


A New Set of Tools

As we grow up and navigate through the challenges of our familial dynamics, we do our best to process our feelings in the aftermath of disagreements and arguments.

It can take years upon years to work through these experiences, but if we take the time to work through our afflictions, we can use what we learned as a means to become better partners in our relationships.


The Half of It

However, it’s important for us not to excessively project our issues with our parents into our relationships. It’s necessary to heal from our childhood wounds, but it’s not kind to use our significant others as surrogates for our closure. So, we should be wary of imposing a specific story on how we want things to go.

When finding partners and exploring deeper emotions, it’s best to find someone who shares the same happiness you have in mind rather than dictate your ideal outcome.


So Do We?

There’s no shortage of evidence that we do. Perhaps the fate of being drawn to someone like your parents is fairly inescapable.

Well what if I don’t like my parents, and I promised myself I would never end up with someone like them?

In reality, our relationships will never quite be as simple as we want them to be, but after all is said and done, that doesn’t mean we’re doomed to always fall back into our old patterns, either.

If there are aspects of your childhood that you want to leave behind to completely heal, you can rest easy knowing you have the power to grieve and move on to better, healthier relationships.

At the end of the day, you and your partner are unique individuals whose lives are more than just a result of parenting. Approaching ourselves and our partners with more kindness and understanding is a good way to keep our relationships healthy and fulfilling.

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