The beliefs you adopt in pursuing your relationships determines the type of relationships you end up with.
We are attracted to those who confirm the beliefs we hold about ourselves.
Meet Miguel. Miguel plays games, hides his true intentions, and manipulates women to stay in a relationship with him. His beliefs about relationships cause him to naturally attract women who also play games and manipulate people. His ex-girlfriend Jamie, who doesn’t play games, was attracted to Miguel initially, but by the third date she grew sick of his behavior.
Miguel is seeing Susan now. She’s the only woman who stuck around, because her life experiences taught her that being manipulated is normal in a relationship.
Meet Katherine. She treats herself poorly and has no self-respect. When she met Tom, a man who respected her, he quickly lost interest because she behaved in ways that made him see her as needy and helpless. Tom moved on within a few days.
Time and time again, my clients display clear patterns that what you believe about yourself and your romantic partners directly determines who you fall in love with and how healthy that relationship is.
This is due to the simple fact that human attraction is based on beliefs.
Does the man have good dad potential or is he just a CAD? Do you need to have mind-blowing sex to make love last? Do you tell your partner when you’re hurt, or do you just expect them to read your mind?
Every person has their own measuring stick on what must happen in a relationship, or what traits a person must have for them to fall in love.
The beliefs that make up your measuring stick of love also determine your values and expectations, which in turn reinforce your beliefs.
Most of us are oblivious to these beliefs, but they cause us to find ourselves in relationship after relationship with people we can’t trust. These are the same beliefs that cause us to call our partner 61 times in one night because we can’t focus on anything else besides the fear of them leaving us.
It feels so real to us. Even when it looks crazy or needy when we call over and over, we can’t help it. Eventually we’re manifesting the fear our actions are trying to avoid and the relationship ends.
So where do these beliefs come from in the first place?
Our beliefs about ourselves and the world formed in our youth becomes a filter through which we see our adult life.
Enter Attachment Theory
Have you ever wondered why therapists are obsessed with learning about your childhood issues?
Countless studies have discovered similarities in the way people behave with their romantic partner as they did with their parents in their childhood.[1. It wasn’t into until the 1980’s when Hazan and Shaver discovered that the interactions between adult romantic partners shared similarities to interactions between children and their caregivers.]
Famous researchers James Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth independently uncovered that the way we got our needs met when we are little, determine the beliefs we hold about what we deserve in love, how others should treat us, and how we should treat others in adulthood. Their research lead to the famous Attachment Theory, which became a psychological model to describe the dynamics of long-term interpersonal relationships.
Attachment Theory says that our early relationships with our parents, shape, but do not solidify our individual expectations of our later relationships.
It’s not that our childhood and adult relationships are identical, but that our close relationships in our childhood and the expectations we form about ourselves design a blueprint[2.In attachment psychology, this is called a working model. I wrote about it extensively here.] of how our adult relationships should be.
Our attachment strategy influences the way in which we interact with our lovers. This can range from how we regulate our emotions during relationship conflicts to how we seek support and intimacy (or not).
It impacts how we choose to handle conflict, communicate our needs, and express our sexuality. [3. Research Papers: Caspers, K.M., Yicius, R. Troutman, B., & Sprinks, R. (2006). Attachment as an organizer of behavior: implications for substance abuse problems and willingness to seek treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 1(1), 32. 2nd article – Roberts, J. E., Gotlib, I. H., & Kassel, J. D. (1996). Adult attachment security and symptoms of depression: The mediating roles of dysfunctional attitudes and low self-esteem. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 70(2),]