Imagine, unexpectedly, someone in your life who you may or may not know or consider romantically, professing their love in an over-the-top gesture and going to great lengths to prove their love to you. You instantly realize they are the one, and you fall in love and live happily ever after.
You may be thinking how ridiculous yet familiar this situation sounds. That’s probably because this has happened in a lot of movies you’ve watched.
Movies and T.V. shows tend to exaggerate or contrive notions about love and relationships, which can lead to false beliefs and expectations. These concepts and portrayals tend to be incompatible with the reality that finding and falling in love can be much more difficult than it seems. At this point in your journey to find love, you have probably already come to realize this.
Ahead, we break down a couple of reasons you may be encountering issues in your relationships or struggling to find a love that is right for you.
You are Choosing Partners Based on the Wrong Reasons
It’s not uncommon to choose a partner based on a specific “type” you are drawn to. This could be a physical type, such as a particular hair or eye color. Or, it could also be personality type, like someone who is adventurous or extroverted.
Choosing partners who are similar to each other in certain ways could be a result of multi-layered reasons. These reasons range from an evolutionary perspective, to experiences with parents, to even just happening to be in situations where we encounter this type of person.
Although having a “type” may not appear to be an issue, it can cause numerous barriers to finding love.
Some of these barriers include limiting the number of people who could be right for you, prematurely judging someone, and staying in your comfort zone. Not breaking the cycle of having a “type” can prevent you from realizing you are in an unhealthy relationship pattern or realizing who’s “right” for you. According to Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D., for Psychology Today, people’s actual partner choices don't necessarily line up well with their ideal / desired partner.
Repeating patterns can cause you to lose sight of your desires and core values. When partners don’t align with your core values, it can lead to short-lived relationships as the relationship and your connection isn’t based on anything meaningful or substantial. Incompatible partners who do not have shared goals or values may make you feel misaligned and forget what is important to you.
You’re Not Being Your True Self
When we finally find someone we think is the right person, we often try to present the best version of ourselves. This may be presenting ourselves more put together, making sure our house is spotless, taking them out to nicer places, etc.
In some instances, acting like someone you are not can be beneficial, but this behavior can have negative consequences in most relationships.
Not being your true self can cause the person you are trying to form a relationship with to fall in love with who you are pretending to be rather than who you truly are. This can lead to you becoming resentful as you will begin to question why they don't love YOU.
In the long term, trying to maintain this perceived personality is not suitable for a relationship and may be a reason why you are not getting past the dating stage.
This behavior not only has unfavorable impacts on relationships, but it also negatively affects you. According to the Journal of Consumer Research, Inc., people who attempt to create a false perception of themselves or prove their worth are more likely to dwell on their shortcomings and failures. These individuals are also more likely to impair their self-control and struggle to resist temptation when they behave in this way.
Putting so much of your effort into faking who you are uses up your mental resources and interferes with your ability to make good choices.
Although faking who you are can be beneficial in the right places, it is not typically helpful when forming a relationship.
You Have a Critical Inner Voice and Limiting Beliefs About Relationships
Your critical inner voice is a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts toward ourselves and others. It is experienced as self-limiting thoughts and attitudes that exist in all of us and keep us from achieving our goals. Your critical inner voice tends to foster inwardness, distrust, self-criticism, self-denial and limitation, and a generalized retreat from your goal-directed activity, as stated by Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., for Psychology Today.
These thoughts can prevent you from getting too close in your relationships and they also try to undermine you at most stages of your relationships. The thoughts of our inner critic can often hold you back from going after what you want and lead to your acting in ways that hurt you.
Your critical inner critic and limiting beliefs may result in you acting in a way that confirms those beliefs. For example, if you’re looking for a relationship to fulfill you, you will find someone who does not do this. Your experience will bring proof that this belief/perception is true. This behavior will allow your internalized fears and critics to guide you towards sabotaging the relationships you desire.
You Have Unresolved Childhood Issues or a Specific Attachment Style
Your ability to form stable relationships starts in infancy and in your earliest experiences with parents or caregivers. These experiences are what you use as a basis when choosing your partners.
According to the Curry Psychology Group, led by Dr. Shannon Curry, PsyD, MSCP, “these formative interactions inform our sense of self-worth and expectations for others' behavior that carry over into adulthood.”
Your experiences can influence who you choose as a partner and establish deeply ingrained patterns of relating to others.
You may also be subconsciously repeating a pattern that you witnessed in these early experiences with your parents in an attempt to heal and work out the dynamic.
You must become conscious and aware of what your tendencies are and take steps towards overcoming them. In order to heal your wounds, you must be consciously aware of them.