Photo by Thomas Hafeneth on Unsplash
Have you ever noticed that people often end up marrying someone with similar characteristics to their own mother or father? Why is that? Maybe because it is familiar and there is safety and security tied to those relationships. Other times, people marry someone similar to a parent because they never resolved issues with that person and subconsciously are seeking resolution and closure. So being married to someone like your parent can be a good or a bad thing, depending on the relationship that you had/have with that person. Our brains tend to develop patterns and internalize scripts that are similar from childhood which shape our behaviors and relationship formation.
Some would say that being attracted to a partner who is similar to the opposite-sex parent is directly tied to attachment theory while others relate it to our unconscious mental models. Whether we are looking to work out issues that were unresolved from childhood or are unconsciously drawn to the familiar, the pattern is a common phenomenon. If we are seeking an intimate relationship, what can we do about this realization? If you had supportive and loving parents then it may not be a problem, but growing up with a critical or emotionally unavailable parent may be problematic for your future relationships.
Taking more time to date a person and learn more about their personality can help you discern whether you are repeating an unhealthy and destructive pattern. Deciding to date for a couple of years before getting engaged may be a good decision. Also recognize that as an adult you have a voice and can confront conflict assertively without guilt or fear. If you disagree with your partner in a healthy way and they react poorly, then this relationship may be dysfunctional. It is important to be able to discuss life issues and share your honest feelings without being reprimanded or shut down. In a healthy relationship the couple can have different perspectives and agree to disagree. Healthy couples respect and accept their differences without fearing ridicule or condescending remarks from their partner. Accept the positive similarities between your partner and parent while making an effort to change the negative connections. Maybe addressing directly the parental conflicts from the past or responding differently than you did as a child would be a good start. Awareness is needed before change can begin.