As you read on, see which type of partner you’ve attracted in the past or present and which categories you may fit into. I hope it will be something for you to chew on and a good starting point to inspire you to shift.
Feeling supported, seen and heard as a child is the biggest component that sets us up for success. The more certainty and value we have, the more likely we are to choose healthier relationships, friends and jobs, amongst many other things. The less secure and confident we feel, the more flimsy our boundaries are. We then teach the people around us that they can keep stretching those boundaries and we’ll always be there to put up with it.
This may show up in being the emotional caregiver for those around us, in lieu of spending time on ourselves–or feeling unsupported, unheard and under appreciated. And we will allow people into our lives that may not be great, but we put up with them because we don’t feel we have many options.
This applies to all our connections—our employer, our family, friends and lover. Relationships will be the focus here but as you read on, think about all the people in your life, past and present, the dynamics and where you feel the most unsettled.
When we grow up in a family that doesn’t outwardly shower us with love, affection and value, we will have a tendency to jump in with the first partner who shows us any amount of attention—or run far away from a relationship so we aren’t vulnerable. It’s not that our families are purposefully ignoring our basic needs; they were doing the best they could with what was passed on from their family and personal experiences. It’s what I call “emotionally genetic”.
In our emotionless family there probably wasn’t even screaming and yelling or outwardly making you feel bad about yourself. But the quietness was still far from encouragement, love and worthiness.
Maybe no one discussed their feelings towards each other or you. Or when they did talk, there may have been unreal expectations for you to meet in your personal life or education. Perhaps their goal for you was to attend to others’ needs. Or maybe you were given no direction at all. I’ve also seen parents so wrapped up in their own shit that they didn’t have the bandwidth to support their children.
Regardless of how your family related and expressed themselves, the bottom line is the love, comfort and support wasn’t obvious.
It’s an innate human desire to be heard and loved so when we don’t hear it often, we feel like we aren’t worthy of love. We will also feel that shutting down and walling up is normal behavior that we will begin to include as part of our relationships.
We then unconsciously seek love and validation in others (or work) to fill the void. By choosing a relationship because we desperate for love, we essentially become co-dependent.
When we come from a place of feeling less-than, we will in turn attract (and put up with) a partner who fills the void and makes us feel love. Many times it’s in a twisted dynamic, mirroring the silent chaos at home.
Even if it’s a half-assed relationship we are in, we think it’s somewhat normal as it mirrors our childhood experience—or even slightly better than what we’ve experienced. It begins to set the pattern of non-deservability we often walk with for decades.
This can cause our relationships to look several ways:
- Lacking communication and emotions (similar to your family so it feels normal to you)
- The “fixers upper”; you give and they take (giving makes you feel useful and like you earned love)
- Falsely confident; they seem like they have their shit together on the surface but they’re deeply insecure because they also grew up in a harsh environment
- Physically or verbally abusive; which you’ll stay for because abandonment feels scarier that putting up with it
- The life of the party; if I make everyone laugh, they will love me and I’ll feel better about myself
- The overachiever; validated when accomplishing goals, essentially earning love and striving to keep achieving. Doing=love.
- The underachiever; why bother to try when I’ll never get validated by what I do
- They may even be as big of a caretaker as you are; both giving everything without taking the time for individual needs.
This isn’t just about the other person. We likely have aspects of some of these archetypes. I can identify where I still have two of these elements lurking even though I have an amazing relationship. So do they ever completely go away? I think they just come into balance.
How do we change these patterns? It starts with realizing them. What type of partners have you attracted? Take a look at the past as it’s so much easier to analyze that a current relationship. What were the glaring issues then? What did you argue about? How did you connect? How were they similar to childhood experiences? How did being with that person make you feel? What was the dominant feeling you had in that relationship that tied into anger, fear or sadness? Not being good enough?
Relationships are meant for tremendous soul growth. Their purpose is to bring to the light all the patterns and thoughts within yourself. This makes these sleeping behaviors more obvious and therefore easier to work on.
You were born with value. You never needed to prove it. You never needed validation. But it’s become something that we all face because our society of lack is constantly being passed down to the next generation. What if we stopped that cycle? What if we encouraged our loved ones without them having to do anything in return? What if we saw ourselves as valid, strong and capable?
You have the ability to shift your boundaries into firm non-negotiables. You don’t need to be what you were taught.