Psychology of relationships: What if it seems like the wrong person is around?

5 min read
Psychology of relationships: What if it seems like the wrong person is around?
Psychology of relationships: What if it seems like the wrong person is around?

If you regularly think you made a mistake by linking your life with your current partner, this article is for you.

We often feel angry when we think: “I shouldn’t be with this person.” Anger is an emotion of approach. It tells us to do something with the object of anger. To get out of the way what gets in the way. We live in the illusion that we will be better off if we remove the object and move on. But the psychology of relationships is much more complicated. The truth is that your current partner is not the reason you feel bad. The partner is more of a symptom. If you remove the cause, the anger will go away, and the partner will remain. Sometimes the partner will also leave, but this happens relatively rarely. Before we move on, we need to dot the i’s.

There are things that you must not tolerate under any circumstances. Here, it is irrelevant if it is a cause or a symptom. You must not tolerate violence of any kind. You don’t have to endure if your partner has decided to destroy himself.

In all other cases, what is written earlier in the text applies: a partner is not the reason you feel bad. And you won’t meet a partner better than the current one unless you first become happy in the present partnership.

We state this based on the attachment theory of one of the most cited psychiatrists and psychologists on our planet, John Bowlby. Bowlby wrote that a child uses an adult’s reaction to the child’s emotions as a model for later communication with people in general. If your signals for help are ignored while you are a child, it will be difficult for you to ask people for help later in life. Mary Ainsworth, another brilliant scientist, later expanded this theory to explain couples’ relationships. Mary argued that the type of attachment developed in childhood determines couples’ reactions to stressful situations. For example, if your parents often ignored you as a child, you had to express your emotions more intensely for them to notice you. Or, if the parent was overly emotional, you might have learned to distance yourself.

Today, in your relationship, it may look like one of you is pursuing while the other is pulling away. One is constantly emotional, while the other withdraws.

There are very few people with a secure attachment. A secure attachment means that you are not chasing anyone but do not hide and withdraw in response to others’ emotions either. You have a high-quality emotional regulation. You love yourself and are there both for yourself and your partner in moments of stress.

When you start looking for a new partner, you will likely meet either chasing or withdrawing. If your current partner, for example, is a puller, the next one will probably be the same. It is because that is what you are attracted to. Like magnets, two people attract each other in a way that allows them to keep living within your typical reactions. Confident people with a secure attachment are interested in people similar to them. If you have heard of “karmic marriages,” now you know how it can work.

Psychology of relationships: how to determine your type of attachment

There are four types of attachment. You already know three: the stalker, the withdrawn, and the secure attachment.

The withdrawn type tends to solve problems alone and suppress emotions. Those with this attachment do not like anyone to disturb their emotional calmness.

Stalkers or persecutors need explicit support. They want to be told they are seen, appreciated, and loved. Such people are usually afraid of starting new projects alone. And when they experience fear, they need support and need it quickly.

However, if they have a withdrawing partner, their partner doesn’t provide the attention they desperately need. So, they have to turn up the heat to be noticed. The fourth type is disorganized attachment.

People with this type of attachment don’t intuitively know how to behave with whom: they pursue some people and move away from others but do not consistently build safe relationships with everyone.

What does it mean to love like an adult?

If you’ve realized that you have an unsafe type of attachment, you don’t need to change your partner but retrain your brain to react differently. We have enough research to show that, even if you’ve been repeating childhood patterns your whole life, you are able to reprogram yourself and learn to love people like an adult. That will make you much happier. We also have enough data to state that the change of your attachment type will profoundly affect your partner. Over time, the partner will begin to “mirror” you.

How to change your type of attachment?

Let’s start with simple things. Most likely, you are aware that you are far from being an ideal partner. Not everyone likes all of your personal characteristics. You have strengths but also have weaknesses. The good news is that you don’t have to change yourself. Everything is okay with you, and you can stay as you are. But you will have to come to terms with the fact that other people are also allowed to be just the way they are. So, the first step is to understand that you have the right to be yourself and to be accepted for who you are. The second step is to understand that the other has the same right. This understanding changes your mind about who you need: instead of looking for the perfect person in all respects, you focus on who is sufficient.

We are born alone, and we die alone. During the most important moments of our lives, no one can understand what we are going through. In order to understand, others would have to be in our heads and bodies. Since we are alone in our most important moments, there is no point in feeling hurt by another person because you feel alone at times.

Metaphorically, people are lights dancing around. You don’t need to fuel your partner’s flame, nor do you need to extinguish it. Try to accept all the colors of your partner’s flame. Rejoice in having a flame that dances with you for as long as it lasts, for life or temporarily.

What else do you need to know about love?

The point is that you don’t love anyone and nobody loves you.

All feelings are created in our heads, and our brains don’t have direct access to reality. All information from the outside comes in pieces through our senses. The brain then forms a model of reality out of these pieces. Our consciousness observes this model, and we mentally evaluate it based on how it coincides with our worldview. If the score is good, we feel love. If it is bad, well, we feel something else. Thus, we do not love people but our thoughts of them. Our feelings result from our thoughts. And if you can control your thinking, you can choose what and when to feel. Having this in mind might help you qualitatively improve your communication, not only with a partner but with people in general.

If you want happiness in family relationships, you should first become happy and free, regardless of your relationships.

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