What We’re Attracted to: Why We Select Mates Based on Unresolved Issues

file000637797981Some people feel that the mate they choose is “the one” – that their personality, looks, and other features make them attractive to us, and that they match our ideals of what makes a worthwhile partner.

But not everyone selects a partner for the reasons that they think they do. Many men and women select a mate based on unresolved issues from the past, looking for someone that fills a void that they have  within themselves.

Living Through Your Partner

You may find that you are attracted to your partner because they provide something that you need that you cannot provide for yourself. For example, let’s say that deep down you want to be a more social person, but you are afraid of being rejected. You may find yourself attracted to partners that are more social – those that can act out that need for you, and be the social person you want to be without worrying about your own rejection.

You may find over time though, that you’re no longer interested in them as a person. You’re only interested in how they act for you. They have become nothing more than an extension of you.

This can lead to relationship challenges. When you’re living through the behaviors of someone else, then you may also find that you’re expecting them to act the way that you would act, and you grow frustrated or unhappy with them when they are not acting the way you wish you could – for example, if they are too outgoing, too social, or the way they socialize is different from the way you picture that it should.

Learning to Recognize Your Expectations of Others

Often in relationship counseling, I see one person in the relationship living vicariously through their partner, but with the same expectations they have for themselves and expecting their partner to match those expectations.

When this happens, it’s almost always completely outside of their awareness. But within our Long Island couples counseling sessions, we work on trying to gain this awareness, because awareness is crucial if you hope to stop blaming your partner for issues that are only problems because of your own expectations.

It’s why it is so important to have a good understanding of yourself as well, because unless you understand what influences your mate selection, you may find you have a difficult time controlling those expectations.

If you and your partner are struggling, and you live in the Greater Long Island area, contact me today for my couples counseling services. As a Long Island psychologist, I have worked with many couples that have found themselves facing challenges in their relationships, and by exploring the cause of these challenges and the factors that went into their attraction to their partner, we are able to identify what may be contributing to some of the frustrations in the marriage.