You may think your past is laid to rest, but sometimes, your childhood experiences can creep up and affect the choices you make in adulthood.
Destiny or coincidence, a twist of fate or a matter of following your heart, an accident or simply being in the right place at the right time; there could be so many reasons that bring two people together and make them fall in love with each other.
But it's not always "by chance" that you feel attached to someone and want them to be your life partner. There could be little things from your past, things that you picked up from your parents without even being aware of it, and things that are unconsciously affecting your choices. And here are some of them.
Your idea of love isn't something that formed in your adult years. It took shape over the years and started all the way back when your parents or caregivers showed you love, in your tender years. And the way they showed you love is what is familiar to you and you might choose a partner who acts or behaves in ways that you're used to. It's not just the positive traits of a parent but sometimes even the negatives that you subconsciously look for in a partner.
"As infants, we develop an unconscious schema of what love is, based on the way we are treated by our primary caregivers," explained Dr. Judith Wright, relationship therapist, according to Marie Claire. "Then, as adults, we’re attracted to people who stimulate us in the same way. It’s very common for a woman to say, 'Oh, he’s too nice' about a potential partner, which is a sign that they had an unavailable father, either emotionally or physically."
The way you look at love and relationships could be a result of the attachment style that you have developed over the years. And your attachment style can determine the kind of partner you look for.
A person with a secure attachment style is generally someone who is self-assured and they want a partner who can add to their life. Dr. Alyssa Adams, clinical psychologist and relationship coach, told Bustle, "This person seeks relationships and emotional closeness and can provide it in return."
The other two attachment styles, anxious-preoccupied and dismissive-avoidant attachment, may be seen in people who are drawn to each other in a relationship.
On one hand, a person with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style may have personal doubts and fears, because of which they're drawn to a potential partner who will give them that constant reassurance, attention, and approval. You might not believe in yourself enough, which makes you struggle to trust a partner; you're suspicious about them and are convinced that they might hurt you. On the other hand, a person with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style may be closed off, may struggle to build a strong emotional bond with a partner and may refrain from showing their vulnerabilities in a relationship.
In relationships, people with anxious and avoidant attachment styles might find themselves drawn to each other because the former will give it their all to feel emotionally close while the latter will generally try to withdraw, according to The Guardian. And this meets the needs of both attachment styles.
Sometimes, you might choose a partner who makes you feel the same way your parents made you feel. Having felt worthy on unworthy of your parents' love could make you wind up in a relationship where you felt the same way. During your younger days, if you never felt like you belonged to your family or if you felt like you had to earn your parent's love but always seemed to fall short, it could have shaped the way you feel about love now.
Because of your past experiences, you may "feel that not only is love not given freely, but it’s a rare commodity that you must be lucky enough to find," author, Peg Streep wrote for Psychology Today. Streep explained that when you grow up feeling unworthy of your parent's love, you might unconsciously choose a partner who also makes you feel unworthy.
Your entire life, you might have wanted to escape your childhood, but you may have recreated it in your adult life without being aware of it. As a child, you may have absorbed the relationship dynamics that your parents shared and history might repeat itself. While growing up, if you saw your parents equally support each other, you may want a partner who believes in the same idea. On the contrary, if you saw your parents withdrawn from each other, you might have the same issues with being emotionally connected with each other in your own relationship as an adult.
"...Women can be drawn to men who tend to cheat if their fathers were big cheaters independent of attachment style, which tends to be a genetically-determined temperament/attraction issue," expert, Scott Carroll, told Bustle.
On the surface level, you might tell yourself that you want someone who love and support you, make you feel protected and be loyal to you, which may have been the partner you dreamed of for long. But in your quest to have your childhood needs met in your adult life, things might take a different turn.
"...We try to get our unmet childhood needs met by our romantic partner to resolve the wounds of our childhood. We’re often attracted to a [partner] who has qualities we dislike and then want him to get rid of the exact things we were first drawn to," author and founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, Amy Chan told Allison Abrams.
Abrams writes, "This is where the loop from childhood plays out in adulthood. Our partner doesn’t fulfill the need we lacked growing up, which leads to the same, familiar conflict and suffering we experienced as a child."