Looking for your other half? Here's how to find a good relationship

We all want to fall in love, but it's hard. What stops us from getting there, and what are we doing wrong?

 Illustrative image of a couple fighting.  (photo credit: TIMUR WEBER/PEXELS)
Illustrative image of a couple fighting.
(photo credit: TIMUR WEBER/PEXELS)

"Why? Why do I always attract the wrong kind of person?"

If I had a shekel for every time I heard this question or some version of it, I would have enough money for a small weekend getaway for two in Israel.

I've seen people in their thirties, forties, and even fifties, some looking for a "second chance" at finding love, and they ask, "Why can't I find the right relationship?"

Let's start with an axiom: We always attract the right relationship for us. It may not be a good relationship — it may even make us miserable — but it's always right for us and who we are.

Why do we attract bad relationships?

 Illustrative image of a couple.  (credit: PIXABAY) Illustrative image of a couple. (credit: PIXABAY)

It's usually enough to look at our childhood homes to understand what drives us and the relationships we build in our lives. We're all born and raised in houses with specific qualities. We all experience things at the beginning of our lives that scar and hurt us.

But these scars and pains come with us when we look for our other halves. We usually find someone who can help us replicate our parents' behavior patterns or reopen old wounds that we just wanted to go away and never come back again.

We go out into the world to find a relationship when our mental systems are geared toward behaviors similar to what we saw growing up. If we experienced abusive behavior, for example, that's what we will most probably be attracted to in an adult relationship.

Is it always worth looking for one's other half?

We tend to look at the world with a romantic view and look for the half that will complete us. But if my other half tends to like people who are not me, then my other half can be a demanding person who doesn't see me for who I am. If my other half tends to think I'm not worthy of a relationship the way I am, then I might attract a critical partner who will constantly berate me.

Sometimes, in order to find a good relationship, we need to find a way to get out of ourselves, so to speak, or out of the relationship and parenting patterns we grew up on, and not look for our complementary half to who we are now.

What do "relationship patterns" mean?

A relationship pattern is some axis of behavior in which both partners move between two extremes and influence each other. Each partner occupies an extreme opposite side on the axis of the pattern instead of living somewhere within the space between the two extremes.

Common problematic relationship patterns:

  • Taking over vs. self-cancellation: In these kinds of relationships, one side takes up space and leads the decisions in the household while the other party gives up on their voice and their opinions. In a relationship like this, the side that lives in self-cancellation could feel that they do not have room to express themselves and instead develop a tendency to keep quiet, run away or shout a lot.
  • Criticism and blame vs. satisfaction: In these kinds of relationships, one side tends to see the bad in the other side and make quite a few remarks about it. On the other side is the party that starts to please the critic just to stop the criticism. Usually, this satisfaction doesn't work for an extended period of time because the person who tends to criticize will always find something to criticize.
  • Offensiveness vs. shrinking: In these kinds of relationships, one side is offending the other on a regular basis, whether it is with words, silences, facial expressions, one-sided sanctions, etc. This condemns the other party to a life of prison of sorts where they do not have the freedom to do what they want. In such relationships, the shrinking party lives under constant threat and are ready to give up everything for the other side to come to their senses and stop this behavior.
  • Holding on against a desire to run away: If we grew up in a home where we experienced abandonment by one of the parents (this doesn't have to be actual abandonment but something we interpreted as abandonment), we can develop abandonment anxiety in a relationship that will make us hold on to our partner forcefully and try to control situations where it would be better for us to let go. Such behavior may cause the partner to run out of air and want to run away, thereby realizing our anxiety.
  • Expecting perfections vs. giving up: If you grew up in a home where one of the parents would not accept a grade that's anything less than perfect and their love depended on your accomplishments, you may find yourself in a relationship where you have trouble accepting unconditional love. Living in a relationship on the axis of this pattern can create situations in which the partner demands from us things that we have no way of giving them until we throw our hands up and give up trying to please them.

For the most part, the same relationship pattern is present in all our relationships. Sometimes we can experience it from one end in relationship #1 and from the other end in relationship #2.

So how do we find a good relationship?

If you are one of those who attract an unhealthy or pleasant relationship, or live in this type of relationship, it is important to understand that the path to change first of all goes through the personal space. If we are looking outside for our other half, without arranging our half, we may find ourselves in a bad or harmful relationship, even in our third, fourth and fifth attempts.

We run to find a relationship for ourselves, but many times the hidden internal mechanisms, that direct us and our choices bring us partners of the type that do us no good and do not suit our desire to be in a good relationship.

Putting emphasis on what happens in the physical realm, such as, "Where should I go to find a relationship?" or "How should I introduce myself or talk?" do not answer the questions that lie beneath the surface which direct us towards relationships that are unpleasant or harmful.

Sometimes the long way is the shortest. Sometimes understanding our operating system and rewiring elements in us that don't serve us can bring the thing we want into our lives.

The author is an emotional therapist and the creator of Couples' Therapy in Half.