Who’s Choosing Your Mates, You or Your Inner Child? Stop Recreating the Relationship of Your Parents.

“I can spot the man who will abuse and disappoint me from miles away.” Halle Berry, Interview with Barbara Walters.

Like many of you, Halle goes for romantic partners who keep her stuck in the past and recreating the emotional problems of her parents. She tends to choose men who control and abuse her, like her father abused and controlled Halle’s mother.

Halle’s love troubles just go to show that unanswered psychological issues will demand that you resolve them, no matter how beautiful, rich and famous you may be. You cannot sidestep problems from your past, no matter how hard you try. You tell yourself, “I will never marry an alcoholic like my father or verbally abusive woman, like my mother.” Then, you look for any red flag that your date possesses these characteristics that you are trying hard to avoid.

You make a list or put together a collage that highlights the exact qualities that you are looking for in a lover. You believe, like Walt Disney, that if you can dream it, you can get it! He or she has to have a certain hair and eye color, be smart, but not a nerd, fun, into rock and roll, but also emotionally deep. You even spell out the person’s income and educational level and his or her religious and political positions. Your intention is to find this lover who is perfect for you. This is the lover that you knowingly want for yourself. But, it doesn’t take long for you to discover that he or she comes with the features of one or both of your parents. What is more, you are engaged in the same types of conflicts and arguments that typified your parent’s relationship.

What steers us to the parent we were trying so hard to escape, although we consciously tried to choose otherwise? What is it in Halle Berry that can spot a controlling, abusive man, like her father from miles away?

Psychologically, it’s called repetition compulsion. We are doomed to repeat the past, until we master it through understanding. This is especially true of intimate relating. The problem is not that you have chosen one or two lovers who keep you stuck in past hurt and dramas. You need experience to learn what you are carrying into the here and now from your past. The problem is that you refuse to accept what you’ve learned through these relationship experiences and choose the same type of lover, repeatedly. Some of you let your stubbornness (I want this even when it’s bad for me) take precedence over what you really need to be emotionally well, free of past wounds, and to move beyond the unhealthy relationship of your parents, psychologically and spiritually. You let the child in you, from your past, choose your lovers instead of the adult you.

The Inner Child

I know you want to go beyond your parents’ limitations in intimate relating. None of you want to suffer. But, there’s a young child in you who still wishes to heal your parents’ pain and to master their problems, through the intimate relationships that you form today. With each relationship disappointment, you say, “I’ll do better this time.” But, once again, you choose a relationship that carries on the negative interaction themes of your parents.

Today, I am going to help you to learn to choose better, to make a clean break from the past. So, let’s get right to your unconscious; the part of you that has the compulsion to repeat your parents’ relationship dramas.

This is your inner-child that has identified with the parent you want to be, the parent you want to avoid, and the couple you want to heal.

Wow. There’s a lot going on inside of you, right?

Who you become is a byproduct of the relationships experienced in childhood.What you learn about intimacy and power, give and take in intimate relating, and can come to expect in terms of fulfillment, goes back to these early relationships. You will tend to play out the emotional issues of one parent and choose partners who will play out the other parent’s role in the relationship. What makes things interesting in the here-and-now is that you are playing out the parental interactions as seen through your mind when you were a child. You were unable to distinguish nuanced interaction. Thus, what you recall of parental interaction often consists of polarized relationship scenarios. One parent gives, while the other takes. One parent is bad and the other is good. Or, one parent is sadistic and the other parent is a masochist, as in Halle Berry’s parent’s relationship dynamic.

You formulate an inner couple in your mind’s eye based on these more immature polarized interaction dynamics, and then play them out with your lovers. This is even true if one of your parents was not in the picture when you were young. You still know about them through stories shared or learn about couple dynamics through the persons who shaped you. Until you understand these relationship dynamics well, you will tend to choose romantic partners who play them out with you.

Thus, it is the part of you that wishes to master and heal your parents intimacy issues (your inner child) that will steer you to partners who help you to fulfill your parents’ relationship dynamics. This is the way of the repetition compulsion.

It takes courage to be happy.

Your inner child senses who’s right for the past relationship drama, but it doesn’t know what you need as an adult to grow you beyond the relationship capacity of your parents. To find this person, you have to shift your focus from who makes you feel good to who is good for you psychologically and spiritually. You have to begin to choose romantic partners out of the conscious Adult You!

Thus, do not be doomed to repeat the past, because you lack the courage to do something different. To keep growing psychologically and spiritually, you have make living choices that expand possibilities. Once you become aware of the pain in relationship that you are trying to move beyond, you have to start to choose for a new you—a you that is independent of the past and separate from that hurt child within you. You have to begin to choose romantic partners who express healthier relating patterns. This takes courage, because what you choose may not fit the list of partner qualities that you have set for yourself.

It’s time to silence your inner child and let your conscious adult choose your lovers, for you.

Have the courage to choose romantic partners who do not fit the inner mate from your past, or at the least, who fits the best, rather than worse, qualities of your parents.

Throughout the years, many patients have asked me: “When will I be happy?” “When will I find my true love?” I reply with much compassion, for them,

You will, when you decide that it is time to be happy. You haven’t decided yet to release yourself from the past. When you decide it is time to let your inner child go, and to put a final close to the past, you will choose differently.”

You see, getting the right mate comes from a decision rather than fate. Every one of you has a chance to be fulfilled in love, if you learn to choose mates who do not fit the requirements of your inner child. When you choose, make sure to:

  1. Choose what you really need as an adult self, rather than from your inner child.
  2. Choose for psychological growth and understanding, calm and stability, rather than drama and neurotic excitement.
  3. Choose out of  reason rather than compulsion.
  4. Choose for your future over your past.
  5. Choose from courage rather than fear.

It’s a touching, and sometimes, tortuous journey to finding the lover we need, rather than want. Your inner child has worked hard for you. Let him or her rest, now. It’s time to let the conscious adult YOU take over. Remember, you have the right to romantic fulfillment, even if your parents didn’t achieve it.

If you like my post today, please say so by selecting the Like icon that immediately follows. And, if you’d like to share the ideas and wisdom in this post with others, please Tweet or Google+1 it. I enjoy your comments and reflections. Please feel free to leave them here. Warmly, Deborah!

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25 Responses to “Who’s Choosing Your Mates, You or Your Inner Child? Stop Recreating the Relationship of Your Parents.”

  1. Great article Deborah! When I first read about Imago or these similar concepts it was a revelation. I realized I married one of my parents because I was intent on not marrying anyone like the other one!
    Im not sure how you rewire though I think the unconscious powerful attraction has a strong basis in brain chemistry. So maybe it begins with dating someone you are not initially attracted to??? I love your suggestions for choice and hope the intellect will win!!

    • avatar drdeborahkhoshaba says:

      Thank you Kathleen. I like what you say here Kathleen about brain chemistry. Learning does get cemented in by our chemistry. I do tell people who are trying to change this particular pattern, to try to date people who don’t fit your exact type. So, yes. I sure hope there is somewhere between strong and no attraction. I do believe attraction is important, but it shouldn’t take the lead, as it does for many people. Kathleen, thank you again for your thoughtful comments and friendship. Warmly, Deborah

  2. Debbie,
    I believe you’re describing an epidemic. It does seem like we choose our partners unconsciously. I was so concerned about not picking someone like my painful parent, that I picked someone who appeared to be the opposite, yet underneath she was much the same…damn!

    • avatar drdeborahkhoshaba says:

      Hi Mark, it certainly seems epidemic, most likely because it’s the pathway toward releasing ourselves from this pattern. I know, that inner child’s radar is so darn good that even when we think we are choosing so differently—there she is again! Love is so challenging. Hope all is well friend.

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    • avatar drdeborahkhoshaba says:

      Hello, I’m glad you like my posts and the topics of them. Hope you come back again. Best to you, Deborah

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  6. avatar Brenda Panneton says:

    This was very easy to understand being that it may be the most complicated issue on earth in my opinion. I figured out that I am attracted to men like my dad because I felt he was the nicer parent and i see now that I became my mom in these relationships trying to make a weak man, stronger and then resenting him when he didn’t live up to my expectations. So, now, I think I can finally begin to notice men that are spiritually courageous. I also need to be always aware that if I love and respect myself, i will attract that in a man. I don’t think I would have any undue expectations then. Thank you for your knowledge.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Brenda, I love what you say here. It is one of the most complicated struggles that we have to deal with in life. And, it’s difficult figuring out, if there’s enough in the relationship to keep us there, or if it’s time to move forward. And, you say again so well–the more we love ourselves and respect what we really need, what is really right for us–we will attract and choose mates who are more right for us emotionally and spiritually. It does take courage to be happy. Thank you dear Brenda for your thoughtful comment. Warmly, Deborah

  7. avatar Cat says:

    Hello Deborah, In the past I chose innapropriate mates. Your reasons for this are true. It’s what I knew. It may be drama filled but it’s familiar. I can react and partake in emotions and behaviors that no longer bring comfort and now feel very uncomfortable. Four years ago I decided to let the man choose me. …Still waiting. Actually a nice man did approach and ask me to dinner about a month ago. I was shocked and surprised. I didn’t have time to respond. He read my face and walked away. I wasn’t ready. I try to be open and ready for all relationships. Next time a man asks me for a date I will remain calm and remember this can be a good thing. I will be that concious adult that makes great choices for myself. Your right we all deserve romantic happiness. Thank you for reminding me.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hi Cat, thank you for sharing your experience here. You say something very important here, when we reach the point where the behaviors no longer bring us comfort–a big change is happening inside of us. It sounds odd, I know, because who likes drama. But, the discomfort you mention is more a realization that there’s nothing in that behavior for you anymore. You sound dedicated to your personal growth Cat. I admire this very much. I also, like that you are experimenting with new behaviors, to get a different result. You are doing what I ask people to do all the time. But, it’s hard to choose a different way. I like your courage—the right man will find Cat, the conscious adult. You do deserve romantic happiness. Warmly, Deborah

  8. avatar Grace says:

    Hello Dr.Khoshaba,

    I am a psychology student, I really enjoy reading all your articles.

    I find this one very interesting and accurate.
    Unfortunately, this story repeats itself over and over…until the individual is able to break the cycle, and finally choose a healthy partner and have a healthy relationship.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Grace, thank you for writing me. I am so pleased that you have found many articles that you enjoy here. I too like the who is choosing your mate article. So many people sincerely want a loving relationship and deserve love. But, it is hard to turn against our instinct to choose the less attractive features of our parents rather than the best in them. As you know, it can be done with some insight into the problem and will power. Psychology is a great field Grace. I am glad you are studying it. Thank you again. Warmly, Deborah.

  9. avatar Kelly Tap says:

    I throughly enjoyed this article. I find myself avoiding being in the middle of my parents issues simply bc I feel it can be contagious. And this article makes knew feel better. I was on to something. This gives me hope that I can proactively change the cycle! And I love the advice you gave your client. After reading this, I have made up my mind. ..I chose to be happy. I’m ready to let go of the past. Thank You Dr.K!

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Kelly, so good to see you here, today. I’m so glad you really liked this article and found it useful to your life. It is contagious, indeed. Well, said Kelly. You can change the pattern. I did and I know that you can too. 2013 is your year to lose the past and move on to finding a healthy love relationship. Warmly Deborah.

  10. avatar chrisz says:

    Dr. D… Your insightful article is just what I need to hear right now. It takes courage to step into a new Love light AND put the past to its eternal rest. You have opened a window I am now looking through with lots of hope and a new outlook. Thanks, D! Your EGHS friend. 🙂

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Thank you Chris. So, good to say hello to you here too. First, let me say that you are so richly talented in inner spirit that shines through in your art. Yes, love and light do put the past to rest! I’m so glad that this article spoke to you. I know it took me awhile to get this right in my life and know first hand–a loving, healthy relationship is there for all of us. Thank you for taking the time to comment and say hello to me. Warmly Deborah! Your EGHS friend 🙂

  11. avatar aidan says:

    In For the first time in my life i fully understand my failed relationships .what a crazy cycle .hell bent on getting it right just once ,crazy crazy cycle .

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Aidan, I’m rooting for you my friend. Just that you are exploring articles like this tells me you are on the right track. I’m so pleased that the ideas in this article spoke to you. You take good care. I’m wishing for you a healthy, loving relationship in the future. Warm regards Deborah.

  12. avatar vicky says:

    I just realized I am doing this with my husband. I’m trying to resolve the issues I had with my mom during my teens. She basically wouldn’t listen or hear my about some major things happening and instead chose to believe a stranger. This deeply hurt me and has damaged our relationship from then on. Now as a grown women I seem to be looking for my spouse to solve those issues, he acts the same way, distant, doesn’t give me the emotional support I need. So what do I do? I’m tired of the hurt and pain it causes me and us. He puts me into a role too of one of his parents but I’m not sure which. I feel like it’s easier to walk away, but we have a child and I don’t want that for her. Any advise is appreciate Dr Deborah.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Vicky, you are in good company. Must of us choose mates who seem different (at first) than the people and situations that wounded us. But, when the honeymoon is over, they are exactly the parent, family member or past lover who we are trying to avoid. Subconsciously, as you know, we pick the mate who will give us a chance to resolve this issue. Vicky, if you haven’t already, I’d get some couple’s counseling to deal specifically with this issue. I hope he’s up for this. I know partners will often kick and scream all the way to therapy, if it wasn’t their idea. You want a therapist who is psychodynamic oriented. They highlight relationship issues that we are talking about here.

      Also, there’s a great book, a classic in this topic, that you may want to read, if you haven’t already. It’s called Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix. I’d do this before walking away. Of course, trust your gut to let you know if it’s worth staying to see if this problem can get better or if it’s time to leave.

      Happy Thanksgiving Vicky. Take good care. Deborah.

  13. avatar Angela says:

    This article really hit the nail on the head for me. I thought I was in a happy, loving marriage, but ended up having an affair that has lasted several months. Something I never thought I would do. I started therapy because of it and have recently figured out that I married a man that treated me very similar to how my parents did as a child. Not bad, by any means, but my therapist helped me realize I married someone just like them….and I ended relationships with good men because it wasn’t familiar. It was different and uncomfortable because it wasn’t familiar or what I knew. Now, 10 years into my marriage, I became attracted to a man that did everything I was starving for in my own marriage and childhood. I’m not in love with this man nor do I want to leave my husband for him. But now I struggle….When I’m honest with myself, I know what the adult me needs and I’m not sure how to help my husband understand what that is. He’s very black and white and not sensitive by any means. What if he can’t change or isn’t willing? Does that mean I need to leave or I will continue to have affairs to get my needs fulfilled? Can I compromise and still be happy? I know I need to leave my inner child behind, but I’m scared for what that will entail with my marriage.

  14. avatar Anastasia says:

    Great article! I add that “healing” our inner child from past childhood wounds – through therapy and counseling, will then attract what we are now.


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