Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
If that applies to dating, then most of us are batsh*t nuts.
How many of us have repeated the same mistakes in love?
Im sure our exes have a lot in common. But I didnt think there was any reason we gravitated toward similar people. I always chalked it up to just having a type.
And this would be totally fine if those relationships turned out successfully.
But most of the time, they dont. (If your chances at making a marriage last are 50/50, the odds are much lower for a relationship.)
But the facts never seem to stop us from going after the same sort of people time and time again (hence Einsteins definition).
So why do we always seem to chase the same person especially when weve been proven wrong before?
In Psychology Today, counselor Tina Gilbertson makes the case for a deeper psychological reason behind our behavior.
One theory Gilbertson presents is Freuds repetition compulsion. According to this theory, we seek out relationships that remind us of ones that disappointed us in the past, and try for a second chance.
Lets say your first love resulted in heartbreak; the repetition compulsion suggests that, as a result of your unmet emotional needs, youll subconsciously look for the next person who reminds you of your first love.
He or she might like the same things or have similar hobbies. Maybe his sense of humor resembles your exs. Maybe she and your ex-girlfriend share a passion for hiking. And maybe you choose these people because you want to right the ship, so to speak, the second time around.
You want to prove you can win. You want to come out on top even if you failed before. Because if you date someone who resembles your ex, maybe that means you didnt really fail at all. (Id be interested to know if this impulse existed more frequently in people whove been dumped rather than the ones who did the dumping.)
But trying to satisfy the same emotional needs often doesnt work the second time around. If things didnt work out with your last partner (who eerily resembles your ex), they probably wont this time. As Gilbertson puts it, the hopes for a perfect do-over will usually become a perfect replay of disappointment.
This isnt to say that a relationship is doomed simply because youre dating a person who resembles your ex. But its not a guaranteed recipe for success, which is a hope that may have gotten you into the relationship in the first place.
Gilbertson emphasizes the importance of those unmet emotional needs. When youre hurt by someone in the past and fail to receive the emotional visibility, appreciation and respect that you think you deserve, you wont have the radar to avoid people who fail you in those areas.
In sum, because you werent with the right type of person in the past, youll never fully know what it means to date the right type of person. And this will leave you confused and blinded when the right person does come around.
Although some might argue that past mistakes in love can be learning experiences, they can also hinder your judgment and ability to see warning signs.
According to Gilbertson, You wont see the red flags at the beginning of relationships. In fact, such relationships might even be attractive because theyre familiar enough to appeal to that repetition compulsion.
The easiest way to avoid any of these problems is by reducing your dependence on your partner. Make sure youre secure with yourself before seeking that security from someone else. As Gilbertson says, Be your own loving partner first.
The more you understand the reasons behind your attractions, the more attention youll give to your partner as an individual. Think about the qualities that make this person unique. Dont think so abstractly, and dont see people as constructs.
People forget that relationships arent just meant to give you a dinner companion. Theyre supposed to make you better, happier people.
While you might expect someone else to take care of your emotional needs, you shouldnt be searching for this fulfillment from someone who isnt right for you. Down the road, he or she will only leave you with more unmet needs.
Even someone who fits your type wont necessarily be a successful partner. Learn to make yourself happy before you hand over the reins to someone else.
There will always be time to find the right person. But by hastily humping into relationships with the same sort of people, youll just get the same type of heartache.
Thats just insane.