Why You Keep Choosing the Wrong Partner (and How to Stop)

healthy relationships self-awareness Aug 09, 2022
woman crying with her partner in the background


I’m going to get right to it with this one because little is more important than the people we choose to spend our time or our lives with.

When we make a choice, we make it from one of two places: (1) from a place of WANT, or (2) from a place of NEED. At the extreme end of WANT is not needing anyone or anything outside of yourself, while at the extreme of NEED is desperation. Usually, we make our choices from somewhere in between WANT and NEED, and how close you are to either end when you make the decision determines how good (i.e., right) or bad (i.e., wrong) that decision ends up being for you.

When it comes to relationships, I think of it this way:

When I get out into the dating world, am I (a) confident in myself, nurturing of myself, and feeling rather whole within myself, or am I (b) getting out into the dating world after years of having my needs unmet by others and myself and desperate to find someone to meet those needs?

With (a), you’re likely to meet and attract someone who can contribute positively to my life and to whose life I can reciprocally enhance. With (b), you guessed it, you’re apt to choose the wrong person who's undeserving or not right for you. There is a way to stop doing this and to show you how, I want to take you through an analogy.


Kitchen #1


Imagine you inherited a beautiful kitchen in your home where you could get any type and amount of food you wanted. You were fed unconditionally, and so you learned to do the same with your children. You feed them food that they love and they don't feel a need to overeat or crave junk food. There's plenty of food, too, and they never have to fight over it. The one day a man knocks on your door and offers your kids an endless supply of pizza and candy if they'll take care of him emotionally. Your kids are so full and fed, and they can see this person doesn't take the best care of his own kids, feeding them pizza all the time, so they simply say "no thanks. We've got plenty food of our own". Imagine the next day, a different man knocks, and he too has kids and feeds them generously. His kids are satisfied and he can see the appeal of your beautiful kitchen but he doesn't need it because he cooks plenty of his own good food. Your kids know he'll care for them like he cares for his own kids so they're happy for him to share your home. You both love each other's cooking and each of your kids get to revel in the mixed cuisine you two have created.



Kitchen #2


Now imagine that you're poor and you don't have enough to feed your children generously. They're starving and begging you to find someone to feed them. You can't stand hearing all of their begging, pleading, and desperation so you lock them in the basement so you don't have to hear them all the time. That's how your own parents handled you when you acted like a problem child. But, no matter where you put your kids, you can still hear their sobs. There's a sense of urgency and desperation to them. Now, the guy with the pizza and candy comes and your kids can smell the pizza before he's even at the door. They are so excited and will do anything to please the man with the pizza and candy. And you, exhausted from it all, are impressed by how happy the man with the pizza and candy makes your kids. And so, even though his demands are high- he'll give your kids and endless supply of pizza and candy if they'll take care of him emotionally- and the fact that his food is all junk food- your kids agree to the exchange because finally they'll have a consistent supply of food. He turns out to be abusive at times and also grows stingy with his pizza and candy, but you can't throw him out... your kids are addicted to what they do have from him.



Why am I saying all of this?


Why am I saying all of this? Well, in this story, the food is LOVE, and the children are parts of you. If you have a beautiful kitchen with plenty of food to feed your kids generously, or plenty of unconditional love to give to your inner self consistently, then you never need to worry about choosing a bad partner with false promises for yourself. Buttt... if you have starving children in your kitchen, or parts of you that are starving for love, that's when you're really at risk for choosing a bad partner who you need to be dependent on or demanding of for love… and the more likely you are to stay in a relationship that’s become unsatisfying, unfulfilling, conflictual, or even abusive. So the lesson in all of this is make sure that the parts inside of you aren't getting so little love from you that they are needy and obsessed with finding someone who can rescue them out of their desperation and starvation, no matter that person’s faults. The more love you give to your parts inside, the more able you will be to find the right partner and have a healthy, secure love with them because you’ll be getting love from them while first and foremost getting love from you.

That’s what I want for each of you, and that’s what all of my posts, articles, and programs are ultimately about. If you haven’t explored them yet, go here to check out my group program (enrolling now!) and go here to grab my free guide to stronger (and better) relationships.

A big thank you to Richard Schwartz for gifting this analogy and a big hug to each of you who is noticing your unhealthy patterns and choices, and choosing to make a change!

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