Since you are so used to being in a certain role within your family, you unconsciously today continue to find partners that keep you in that role. So unless you become aware of, and shift your patterns, you will continue to live out the same negative emotional experiences that you experienced as a young child.
Here are five key psychological themes that directly impact our adult behaviour and can be very active in our relationships:
1. Abandonment (Results in fear of loss and rejection) - Did you have neglectful parents? Did they abandon you once or frequently, either by physically leaving or by being emotionally unavailable due to their own issues? Did you rarely have a parental figure you felt like you could lean on?
How this might be affecting your adult life: You may cling to potential partners because you’re afraid of being left, and you have been conditioned to have an underlying belief that the relationships that you need most deeply, will not work out in the long run or give you what you need. While you desperately want love and affection more than anything else, you are also terrified of letting others in to love you deeply.
2. Defectiveness (Results in a Fear Of Being Unlovable) - Defectiveness is the feeling that you are unworthy or undeserving of being loved. The feeling that you are somehow defective as a person, this is also known as shame-based thinking. A sense of defectiveness often comes from a critical or dismissive parent. Especially if you were a more sensitive or introverted child, an unkind family relationship would weigh heavily on your self-esteem for many years to come.
How this might be affecting your adult life: Your coping mechanism for not feeling worthy of being loved is to distance yourself from loving relationships of any sort. You might be reluctant to let anyone see you for who you are because “who you are” doesn’t feel good enough to be loved.
3. Subjugation (Results in People Pleasing) - Subjugators are passive people-pleasers in their relationships. The unconscious process being “If I’m extra nice to you and make you feel amazing with every bit of my being, then you will have to stay and love me. You won’t reject me like the people in my past did.” Chances are these people had neglectful, self-centred or strong-willed family members around them growing up and they soon learnt the path of least resistance was to just tow the line.
How this might be affecting your adult life: By prioritising your partner's needs over yours, you might think you are doing them a favour by adding value to their life. But in reality, you are setting up a lose-lose dynamic that hurts both of you. You don’t get your emotional needs met, and your partner often feels like they bear the weight of being responsible for you. When self-sacrificing subjugators do start to prioritize their emotional needs in the context of relationships, they often feel guilty for giving themselves any time or attention.
4. Dependency (Resulting in Being Overly Reliant On Others) - Were your parents overbearing? Did they make every little decision for you? Were you made to feel apprehensive about making decisions for yourself? It’s natural that your parents would be making the majority of your decisions for you when you were very young, but after a certain age if you weren’t allowed or trusted to make choices for yourself then you will often be attracted to partners that make the majority of your decisions for you as well.
How this might be affecting your adult life: You might think it’s a good thing to let your partner choose every movie you see together, where you go for a holiday or how much you spend or save, but in reality, you will end up feeling resentful of having little choice, and your partner will not respect your lack of interest. In addition, over time your self-esteem will be eroded, and you may feel unable to leave an unhealthy relationship because you are so overly dependent on your partner.
5. Entitlement (Results in Inflexible And Unrealistic Expectations) - If you were raised with parents who had weak personal boundaries and they found it difficult to say “no” to you, then you are at a higher risk of developing a sense of entitlement about the world, and an unrealistic set of expectations for your intimate relationships. If your parents didn’t give you any structure growing up, would you push them further to see where their boundaries were? Would you ask yourself “How much can I get away with?”
How this might be affecting your adult life: You will tend towards finding partners that are similarly passive and who have a difficult time saying no to you. When someone does have healthy boundaries, it may frustrate or repel you, because you can’t get what you want from them like you could from your parents. You may feel that they need to do what you want in order to prove their love, but this is a very unhealthy view of what love is.