Why we always choose the same type of partner

The couples they form follow each other and resemble each other. They always fall on the same psychological profile, even if it means suffering from it. Why do their romantic choices seem predetermined? And how to get out of this repetition syndrome?

At 31, Eva only falls in love with “absent subscribers, long-distance travelers or workaholics”. Antoine, 44, has already married three women “more or less depressed, who always had to be taken care of”. These two look alike, except for one sadness. If, for Éva, this inclination “is anecdotal”, Antoine now dreams of “living a relationship of sharing, serene and harmonious”. Is repetition inevitable?

Well-established beliefs

First reality: getting out of your habits is never easy. “During their history, everyone develops a system of beliefs that will have a direct influence on their behavior,” explains psychiatrist Jean Cottraux. The idea that a man “must” be active, for example, or the thesis that we “must” take care of others are at the heart of our choices. “Linked to our education, our socio-cultural environment, our past experiences, these thoughts that have become automatic are immovable landmarks,” continues the doctor. And make us repeat what we already know.

For those who are sensitive to change in love, modifying their beliefs, going off the beaten track, would amount to going into the unknown. And the unconscious opposes it! “Our cognitive patterns are inscribed in the psyche and instinctively push us towards what is identified as something to which we can adapt, with which we know how to live, even survive”, analyzes Jean Cottraux. In this regard, everyone has their references: the couples we have previously formed, in particular the first of them, or even that of our parents…

A past to repair

“Unconsciously, we are all marked by the couple formed by our parents”, remarks the psychoanalyst Sophie Cadalen. Does the cliché that girls “fall in love with daddy” and boys “want to marry mommy” make sense? “For some, this fidelity to the figures of the mother or the father reassures and legitimizes what they have experienced”, replies the psychoanalyst. For Eva, it’s a way of justifying her father’s love for her despite the fact that he was absent. For Antoine, a reason to believe in his mother’s love despite the illness she suffered from which kept her away from him. And when the past is synonymous with injury – lack of paternal recognition for her, of maternal tenderness for him – the imperative, even unconscious, is to heal it. “To recreate a couple that resembles that of your parents is to give yourself the opportunity to heal from your childhood injury,” says Monique Fradot, psychotherapist. So, to heal, Eva may be trying to bring her companion home. As for Antoine, if his partner is better thanks to him, it is he who will be better.

Difficulty loving (oneself)

Yet the challenge that these sweet stubborn ones want to take on is endless. Either they fail and leave their partner, or they win the challenge, then leave to accept other “missions”. “The real challenge is not to cure the other, but to cure oneself, insists the psychotherapist. To love oneself and to recognize one’s value apart from the other. » Without having to take care of everything when her companion is not there, for Eva. Without this visceral need to be indispensable to his companion, for Antoine. “Victim, savior or executioner: confining oneself to one role is also locking the other in the one assigned to him”, recognizes Monique Fradot. The one that suits us and reinforces ours. In this immutable scenario, the first role is for us, the second is for the other. And this other inevitably becomes a mere extra.

What to do ?

Monique Fradot, psychotherapist
“Do not consider these attractions as a curse or even a disease, we all have a type of man or woman. But to help you see clearly, go back in your history. As a child, what role did you play in your family? Today, do you feel free to no longer endorse it or, on the contrary, no longer to reject it? True love is stronger than the past, but it is in the present that we can heal. »

Sophie Cadalen, psychoanalyst
“Ask yourself what you gain by repeating the same scenario. It is not a question of becoming the culprit, but indeed the actor of your relationship or those to come. Ask yourself: what is my interest, in terms of recognition, valuation, right to a place in the couple? Write it down in black and white, if necessary. Because the circle interrupts its course as soon as it is no longer beneficial, profitable for oneself, in the literal sense. »

For further

To read

The Rehearsal of Life Scenarios by Jean Cottraux
To understand how, out of fidelity to certain mental patterns, we reproduce the same errors
(Odile Jacob, “Pockets”, 2003).

Why him ? Why she ? Our couples heal ust by Monique Fradot and Danièle Chinès
A decryption of our love stories, from the first date to the first crisis. Until the achievement of the two-way equilibrium
(JC Lattes, 2005).

how they got away with it

Stephanie, 39 years old
“For a long time, I was in love with lying, aggressive and manipulative men. Without really knowing why. Of course, there was this childhood wound, my father’s incestuous behavior, a family secret… But I didn’t make the connection. However, two years ago, when I dared to speak the truth and confront my parents, I felt relieved of an immense weight. Liberated and free to meet a different man. What happened. »

Matthew, 38 years old
“From my first relationships, I only fell in love with unavailable women: married women, living on the other side of the world or working 24 hours a day… Two years ago, a new failure plunged into deep depression. A friend then convinced me to stay single for a while, “to see”… That had never happened to me! I lasted over a year. I took the time to think about what I wanted to do with my life – as a couple, in particular. It helped me see more clearly in my needs and expectations. Six months ago, an “old” friend invited me to dinner. She’s a girl I didn’t even look at before, she was so… available! We will soon be moving in together. »

Why we always choose the same type of partner