How do we choose the men we fall in love with? In the modern world, steeped in the ideology of romanticism, you are urged to trust your feelings. Love is that buzzing chemistry when you discover that beautiful man inside and out with a rare capacity to make us happy.
Those who hold the romantic attitude certainly imagined that it would bring an end to the unhappy relationships that resulted from arranged marriages, which were the traditional way getting a partner.
But the main problem with this approach is that our instincts have very often proved disastrous. While we may get tingly feelings around that certain guy at the nightclub, party or website, the romanticism that is celebrated in art appears not to lead us down the road to happiness any more than a mediaeval couple shoved into marriage by two royal courts intent on preserving sovereignty over a piece of empire.
Emotions and feelings have hardly been better than the cold calculation of our parents in establishing the foundation of our love lives.
Another approach, which draws on psychotherapy, dismisses the idea that gut feelings are trustworthy guides to the right man. It asserts that we fall in love with the familiar person, not the ideal person. In other words, we stick with what (or whom) we are familiar with rather than the one who takes us out of our comfort zone.
Our experience of our parents during our childhood has imprinted on us a template for loving relationships that we carry into adulthood, for better or for worse. Whether we realize it or not, we are acting out what our parents modelled for us, good and bad.
So we seek familiarity in relationships, not true happiness. We want to recreate the feelings that we had growing up. We put up with the negative feelings that we had as kids because those are what feel comfortable. We are used to it, even if they are destructive.
Thus, we wind up pushing away men who are good for us because we think that their “rightness” is a little too right, a bit too balanced, too mature, too reliable. Basically, a sense in our hearts of being foreign and unearned.
Our search for the right partner has to start with addressing how certain compulsions to endure suffering affect us negatively. In order to deal with this, you should brainstorm what types of people interest us and what types disinterest us. Write all of these down so that you can wrap your mind around them and process them. It does not help to keep it all in your head.
We want to identify those qualities in people that are good and bad for us. Then question if our impulses align with the good ones or the bad ones. This exercise will help us unearth the childhood memories that have shaped our approach to seeking a mate.
In meditation, there is an exercise called “noting”. Noting is like watching the action but not getting caught up in the action. We want to put ourselves in the observer’s seat and simply watch out thoughts about our relationships float by.
When we can do this with some level of comfort, only then can we hope to get on the right path to Mr. Right.