How many times did you cheat on me?
Him: I don’t know, I wasn’t counting.
The viral video this Valentines week, was ironically one of heartbreak and closure. A girl who desperately tried to salvage her relationship with a man who did nothing but emotionally abuse her.
Social media took to her defense, calling the man out for his narcissistic behavior.
We can all agree the man (nay boy) portrays pure dogmanship here.
However, let’s take a moment to analyse the victim in the situation. A beautiful woman who, even after numerous accounts of cheating, stayed with him. I bet if you asked her, she would never say she wanted a man who cheats and is narcissistic.
In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell studies the relationship between the type of partners we say we want and those we actually go for.
The study goes something like this. If asked the kind of partner you want today, you can describe him. eg, smart and charming. But usually, that is not the person you fall for. More often than not we fall for a completely different archetype. Which we can rarely explain. But if asked at a later date, we are back to wanting the smart and charming man. Gladwell’s book doesn’t give a definitive explanation for these choices.
Here is a theory. Perhaps you really do want a smart and charming person. In him, you see an ideal partner.
But we all have a wounded child in us. The wounded child is a result of an experience you had in your earlier life which you wish to fix or change. E.g you felt abandoned, or rejected, or abused.
So when presented with someone we wouldn’t usually describe as our ideal partner, they trigger the wounded child in your sub conscience, and you feel a connection. Subsequently, we use our chosen romantic partners, to try fix or change our childhood/past.
What these types of relationship manifest is resentment when the partner does not change. Back and forth relationships, which many of us confuse for passion. And we cling on even tighter because -god forbid this man leaves you just like daddy left you.
Think about the last time you said ‘What was I thinking?’ when you came out of a relationship.
It is because it is not our conscious mind falling for these ‘wrong’ men. Our conscious mind wants a stable and smart person. It is the person behind the locked door, the subconscience, who we don’t acknowledge is playing a huge role in our decisions. That’s the one who falls for the partner with ‘potential to change’. Just like your mother had potential to overcome her addiction.
And this is why, when presented with our ideal partner, the right person, we push them away for being ‘too nice’. Because they do not trigger this wounded child. There is nothing to fix or change.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
The real challenge is to break this cycle. Recognize that there is a wounded child in you. Recognize the trends in your past and why you always find yourself in compromising relationships. See if the people you say you want, are the ones you actually go for.
But dear friend do not hide behind this narrative. Do not push people away because you have ‘daddy issues’. Do not continue to hurt people because you were ‘hurt’ as a child. Because that is worse than not knowing. That is called deliberate evil.
Instead, recognize the wounds and proactively work to change. That is called emotional maturity.
Most importantly, realize that you cannot love someone into loving you. Because just as this person is playing a part in your story, you are playing one in theirs. And it is up to you to figure out what your role is in your partners’ story, and determine if it is one you are comfortable playing.
Because people will only treat you the way you let them. As long as you fit into their story.
Give yourself enough love to walk away from toxic relationships. Only then will you know the love you deserve. And then choose peace.
So that next time you get into a relationship, you are not in it to calm a storm. You are there to enjoy the sunshine.