Dating mom and dad

Have you found yourself involved with someone who is a lot like one or both of your parents? Or in a relationship where the dynamics are similar to the dynamics involved in your relationship with your parents? Your significant other may have dark or light skin or hair, or be shorter or taller than your parent, but their main character traits are the same. They may even have different traits than your parent but the roles are the same. For example you attract men that are nurturing and your dad was nurturing towards you. Or your mother had a short fuse and you walked on egg shells around her and you find yourself partnering with women who are similar.

Most people find themselves in a situation like this at some point and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The way we understand ourselves and our expectations of relationships largely come from our relationships with those who took care of us while we were very young children. And for some people childhood issues play out in our adult relationships. The ability to cultivate and keep a relationship going can also be based on our early experiences with the relationship we had with our parents. Where they reliable and responsive? Did they meet your needs?

Mental health professionals use the term Attachment Theory to describe the relationship between early caregivers and ones sense of themselves and later their sense of safety in the world. Later in life, this speaks to a person’s ability to create and maintain relationships as well as the type of relationships one creates. Some mental health professionals believe that as an adult we may attempt to work through our issues with our most difficult parent by selecting a mate that has the same characteristics of that parent. If you think you may be dating or have married someone similar to your parents, try to list the qualities your parents have separately, and then list those of your mate. You can limit it to the top five character traits that stand out for you about them. Then compare the lists.

Whether there are similarities in traits or the relationships you shared with your parents and your current involvement with someone isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing. Most importantly is it working for you and your life at this point? Is it fulfilling and rewarding? Are the ups outweighing the downs? If the relationship isn’t meeting your needs, or if your selection of dating partners is consistently falling short, it might help you to get to the root of whats leading you to these relationships or why you’re still involved.