In the first part of this blog we said that our strong feelings of attraction and repulsion may arise from complicated experiences that we had when we were far too young to understand them, and which remain in the chambers of our minds.  In fact, we may sometimes actually meet a person who is good for us, but as time goes by, the way we behave and engage might be a way for us to unconsciously drive the relationship to the ground, leading us to confirm certain beliefs that we have about love and relationships.

This does not mean that everything related to our attractions will be distorted. We may also be attracted to positive qualities such as intelligence, loyalty, charisma, kindness, and other qualities; but we are also liable to be fatefully drawn towards more problematic tendencies such as being drawn to someone who is often absent, or treats us with some disrespect, or someone who is dependent. Alternatively, we may have been so traumatised by a parental figure, that we cannot approach any partner who shares qualities with them of any kind, even the positive ones. So we might be rigidly intolerant of anyone who is punctual, organized or intelligent because these were the traits of someone who caused us a great deal of difficulty as children.

It is thus useful to try and understand which factors are semi-consciously taking over our relationships, in order to interrupt the unhealthier patterns that might be at play. Even if we can’t completely shift the pattern, it’s useful to know that we are carrying a ball and chain. It can help us become more aware of ourselves and careful when we feel certain that we’ve met the one after simply a few dates. Ultimately, we stand to gain when loving people that differ from our initial types because we are then able to understand that the qualities we like, and the ones we very much fear, are found in different arrangements from the ones we had encountered with the people who first taught us about affection, long ago in a childhood we are starting at last to understand and possibly free ourselves from.


Claire Borg is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on