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Early on I dated men who were emotionally distant, like my dad. I knew not all men were that way, but the loving, caring, considerate guys who respected women just never seemed to show up. The more I studied psychology, the more I realized this wasn’t just a coincidence.

My favorite professor, Dr. Herbert Strean, from Rutgers University Graduate School of Social Work, drilled into us that:

A client’s chronic complaint is an unconscious wish for that very thing.

I wondered, “How could that apply to me? Did that mean my chronic complaint ‘there aren’t any nice guys out there’, was my unconscious wish? Did this mean somehow I was attracted to or choosing emotionally distant men unconsciously? Why would I do that?”

Dr. Strean explained we often choose mates similar to our parents. After all, they are our first and most significant male and female models of love and being loved. That dynamic becomes hardwired into us emotionally. Even when a current relationship is not healthy, it is familiar, and therefore comfortable.

Unconsciously recreating old relationship patterns is a way of bringing our parent, and all that baggage, back into our lives. Why? Because we haven’t worked out the original hurt, so we project it onto our partner. We unconsciously think we can work it out with a significant other.

Individual therapy is the best way to prevent this. Working through old baggage allows us to see our patterns consciously, and recognize what we are repeating.

I feel fortunate I had the opportunity to work through my baggage before I met Bob. If I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have picked him. He was, after all, a man who could be emotionally closed.

Does this resonate for you? Reach out and let us know if you’d like relationship support to work through any unresolved issues.