Updated: Aug 29
Love can be complicated, and sometimes we find ourselves repeatedly drawn back to a partner despite the challenges we've faced. In this blog post, we will examine the psychological dynamics at play when we keep going back to a partner, even when the relationship may not be healthy for us. I'm here to shed light on the question: "Why do I keep finding myself going back to my partner?"
Familiarity and Comfort: Human beings have a natural inclination towards what is familiar and comfortable, even if it may not always serve us well. If your partner represents a significant part of your history or has been a consistent presence in your life, the familiarity of the relationship can create a sense of comfort, making it challenging to break away.
Unresolved Emotional Attachments: Often, the reasons for returning to a partner lie in unresolved emotional attachments. This can be rooted in the belief that the relationship holds the potential to meet your unmet needs or heal past wounds. The hope for change and the desire to recapture positive moments from the past can keep you trapped in a cycle of returning to the relationship.
Emotional Dependency for Self-Worth: Emotional dependency occurs when we rely heavily on our partner for validation and emotional support. It's one of those situations (which you may have directly experienced yourself, or seen a friend experiencing this), where it does not really matter how other people (friends or family) support you - you are simply looking for approval and validation from this partner. It's almost as though "no one else or nothing else matters" except for this individual (partner) and what they think, how they treat me, and how they care about me. This can then develop a strong emotional dependency on your partner, creating a sense of reliance that makes it difficult to imagine life without them. The fear of being alone or not finding someone else who fulfills those needs can be a driving force in the cycle of returning.
Issues of Self-Worth: When you are unsure of your personal value and you begin doubting if you are "good enough", you are likely to risk seeking validation from your ex-partner - the person who once upon a time gave you some indication that you were good enough (even if they later on withdrew this validation). To have life without them also opens the door to you further questioning yourself and your worth - "is anyone else ever going to like or love me again?" or "if this was the best I could get, and I wasn't good enough for them, how could I possibly have anything else?". If you experience such narratives, this is something to watch out for - as these may risk you spiralling into accepting inappropriate treatment and tolerating further abuse in future relationships (regardless if it is the same or different partner).
Practical Dependency: Depending on what your relationship style was like and circumstances around your life, you may have been living together, shared financial responsibilities, have children etc. This means that there is a lot of reliance on your partner for multiple practicalities: They may control all of your finances, or they may be responsible for the household (rent or ownership of the home). Such circumstances is understandably challenging and leaves you vulnerable and further reliant on them.
Isolation from Friends & Family: Often in painful and toxic relationships, there is a risk of becoming gradually isolated from the people who we love and who love us unconditionally - that being our friends and family. You may risk becoming so absorbed in the unhealthy relationship that you spend all your time and energy investing in the relationship, that other life relationships become neglected and forgotten. In this sense, I would urge you to consider your needs and make efforts to protect areas of your life that are meaningful to you, independent of the relationship - including relationships with family and friends, personal activities, and most importantly - whatever you need to do to self-care.
Understanding why we keep going back to a partner, even when it may not be in our best interest, requires introspection and a willingness to break free from familiar patterns. Recognizing the role of familiarity, unresolved emotional attachments, emotional dependency, and ingrained patterns is crucial for personal growth and moving towards healthier relationships. With self-reflection and support, it is possible to break the cycle and create a brighter future
If you found this useful, please do me 2 favours. Please have a look at my free e-book here which can help you improve your relationship and heal trauma bonding. Second, please share with other people who you feel would benefit from this - because the more people supported, the better our community can survive and heal.
As always, if you ever want to connect and gain support - I'm here.
All my love, Dr Sarah
improving your relationships