Why We Date People Like Our Parents

I’ve been spending a lot more time with my best friend’s mom lately (long story) and although I probably know my bestie better than 99% of the world, so much about her is making SO MUCH SENSE now that I’m coming to know her mom better.

It made me think about the fact that so much of our relationship choices and habits depend upon our parents: who we choose to date, how we date them, and why.

I’m currently reading the book by Debi Pearl called Preparing to be a Help Meet.

Side note: EVERY WOMAN needs to read this book!!!! It should be required for marriage…seriously.

In her book, she separates men into three categories: the King, the Prophet, and the Priest (don’t worry, I’m definitely posting about this very soon!!)

I was telling my bestie about which man seemed closest to the type of man I would like to marry. Then, she started sharing with me about how “on-point” the book was about the guy she is currently dating. She finally had this lightbulb moment and commented that the guy I most identity with is VERY similar to my father, and the guy that she’s dating is similar to hers as well.

It’s almost impossible to choose a romantic partner that is absolutely nothing like your opposite-sex parent. And when it does happen, it’s because that person was making an intentional effort to do so on purpose.

Debi Pearl also points out that a person’s mother will more readily accept her child’s significant other if they resemble the type of person that she married. So my best friend’s mom loves her boyfriend because he’s very similar to her dad.

However, if I was to date that same type of man, my mom probably wouldn’t readily support my relationship because he would be so different from my father. And whether we like to admit it or not our parent’s support of our relationships, specifically our moms support, highly influences who we date and for how long.

So to sum it up: We typically choose to date people similar to our opposite-sex parent while seeking the support of our relationship choices from our same-sex parent. 

But think about how much confusion it can cause in relationships when a person’s parent is absent from their lives. This confusion can make it really hard for a person to forge a relationship with someone else when there are so many vacancies and questions as it relates to themselves and that parent.

From the time we’re an infant, the way our parents interact with us causes us to form internal “rules” for interacting with others. Dating is LARGELY affected by that.

This process is so strong that it still happens even if the parent is absent.  So even them not being there will still teach us certain rules about relationships that we end up living by, whether we’re aware of it or not. And THIS ladies and gentleman, is how we end up “dating our parents.”

Now, if the similarities between our parent and our boo are positive characteristics, then relationship satisfaction is high, but if they are like our parents in negative ways, then… not so much.

So knowing that this is pretty much an inevitable process, the key is to just be aware that it’s happening. If not, then we’ll be attracted to the familiarity of the person and not pay attention to what it is about them that feels familiar. Because even if you are experiencing something negative, if it’s a familiar occurrence, you’ll still be drawn to it if you aren’t careful.

Be very intentional about knowing what attracts you to a person, because if you’re going to date your parent, it might as well be for good reasons!


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