Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
If that applies to dating, then most of us are batsh*t nuts.
How many of us have repeated the same mistakes in love?
I’m sure our exes have a lot in common. But I didn’t think there was any reason we gravitated toward similar people. I always chalked it up to just having a “type."
And this would be totally fine... if those relationships turned out successfully.
But most of the time, they don't. (If your chances at making a marriage last are 50/50, the odds are much lower for a relationship.)
But the facts never seem to stop us from going after the same sort of people time and time again (hence Einstein's definition).
So why do we always seem to chase the same person -- especially when we've been proven wrong before?
In Psychology Today, counselor Tina Gilbertson makes the case for a deeper psychological reason behind our behavior.
One theory Gilbertson presents is Freud’s "repetition compulsion." According to this theory, “we seek out relationships that remind us of ones that disappointed us in the past, and try for a second chance.”
Let’s say your first love resulted in heartbreak; the repetition compulsion suggests that, as a result of your “unmet emotional needs,” you'll subconsciously look for the next person who reminds you of your first love.
He or she might like the same things or have similar hobbies. Maybe his sense of humor resembles your ex's. Maybe she and your ex-girlfriend share a passion for hiking. And maybe you choose these people because you want to right the ship, so to speak, the second time around.
You want to prove you can win. You want to come out on top -- even if you failed before. Because if you date someone who resembles your ex, maybe that means you didn't really fail at all. (I'd be interested to know if this impulse existed more frequently in people who've been dumped -- rather than the ones who did the dumping.)
But trying to satisfy the same emotional needs often doesn't work the second time around. If things didn't work out with your last partner (who eerily resembles your ex), they probably won't this time. As Gilbertson puts it, the hopes for a “perfect do-over” will usually become “a perfect replay of disappointment.”
This isn't to say that a relationship is doomed simply because you're dating a person who resembles your ex. But it's not a guaranteed recipe for success, which is a hope that may have gotten you into the relationship in the first place.
Gilbertson emphasizes the importance of those “unmet emotional needs.” When you’re hurt by someone in the past and fail to receive the “emotional visibility, appreciation and respect” that you think you deserve, “you won’t have the radar to avoid people who fail you in those areas.”
In sum, because you weren’t with the right type of person in the past, you’ll never fully know what it means to date the right type of person. And this will leave you confused and blinded when the right person does come around.
Although some might argue that past mistakes in love can be learning experiences, they can also hinder your judgment and ability to see warning signs.
According to Gilbertson, “You won’t see the red flags at the beginning of relationships. In fact, such relationships might even be attractive because they’re familiar enough to appeal to that repetition compulsion.”
The easiest way to avoid any of these problems is by reducing your dependence on your partner. Make sure you’re secure with yourself before seeking that security from someone else. As Gilbertson says, “Be your own loving partner first.”
The more you understand the reasons behind your attractions, the more attention you'll give to your partner as an individual. Think about the qualities that make this person unique. Don't think so abstractly, and don't see people as constructs.
People forget that relationships aren't just meant to give you a dinner companion. They're supposed to make you better, happier people.
While you might expect someone else to take care of your emotional needs, you shouldn't be searching for this fulfillment from someone who isn't right for you. Down the road, he or she will only leave you with more unmet needs.
Even someone who fits your "type" won’t necessarily be a successful partner. Learn to make yourself happy before you hand over the reins to someone else.
There will always be time to find the right person. But by hastily humping into relationships with the same sort of people, you’ll just get the same type of heartache.
That's just insane.