Six Reasons You Choose the Wrong Partner – Free Ebook

To choose a partner is the most important
job interview we are ever asked to carry out.

Around half of us get it very wrong, not because
we are inept, but because we are wounded.

We might think that there would be a minimum
of training and some hazard lights to guide

us. But our dedication to public safety ends
squarely at the door of our dating interviews.

We’re supposed to need to be left strictly
alone to follow our (misfiring) instincts.

Out of some peculiar fear of infringing on
our liberties, we are abandoned to make our

own beautiful disasters, generation after
generation, without drawing the slightest

benefit from the sufferings and late-life
realisations of others. And therefore, with

horrifying predictability, the most cautious
types routinely come adrift without discerning

the multiple cataclysms they are incubating

  • and which may take a good two decades fully

to come to light.

What, above all else, clouds our judgement
is something we have scarce control over and

are seldom granted the opportunity to explore
in sufficient depth: our childhoods, and more

particularly, our messed up childhoods, for
the single greatest predictor of unhappy adult

love is, in a process that layers misery upon
misery, simply and squarely our miserable

time at the hands of significant others in
our early lives. It’s expecting too much

to think that one might have been substantially
unloved or troubled as children and then grow

up to make any sort of reasonable or successful
choices in our adult years. The best we could

aim for is a live appreciation that our instincts
are liable to be profoundly unreliable guides

to our future contentment – which might inspire
a commitment to getting someone else, a wise

impartial judge, to check and help us with
our homework.

This is some of what happens when our interviewing
capacities have taken a hit:

  1. We can’t sift:
    What singles out the emotionally damaged from

the more robustly healthy is not their involvement
with mad candidates, these are everywhere

and are often irresistibly delightful on the
outside, it is their propensity for being

unable to spot the problems in due time and
extricate themselves with the requisite ruthlessness

and decisiveness. Above all, a difficult childhood
inducts us into getting interminably stuck.

  1. We aren’t a friend to ourselves
    The reason for the stuckness is hugely poignant:

that we don’t like ourselves very much.
Therefore, when someone blows hot and cold,

lets us down, plays games with our minds,
makes and then routinely tramples on promises,

denies us tenderness and swears they won’t
do that nasty thing to us again and then promptly

does, our first, second and hundredth impulse
is never simply to up sticks and leave. Our

tendency is to wonder what we might have done
to provoke the problem, whether there is something

that we have misunderstood and whether we
might learn to be more skifull in not upsetting

them going forward. Our past gives us a touching
but ultimately disastrous tendency to think

against ourselves – and give an unnatural
degree of credit to the other. It might take

us a decade to make a simple realisation that
someone else could have reached in an evening:

that they’re not worth it.

  1. We can’t disappoint anyone
    Looking after ourselves requires a rare skill:

a capacity – at selective moments – to disappoint
another person in the name of our own protection.

To remain sane, we may have to say no to a
party, decline a friend’s suggestion, swerve

an invitation – and in love, upset someone
else substantially – even when they have,

in many areas been kind to us. To someone
who doesn’t possess a full tank of inner

love, how dare one turn down the love of another,
even if it comes wrapped in tricky or poisonous

elements? How, given who one is, dare one
make someone else cry?

  1. We hope too much
    Children who grow up in the company of difficult

adults cannot change or get rid of their care
givers. From a position of impotence, they

settle on doing one thing extremely well:
hoping against hope that these adults will

magically change and learn to be kind. If
they just hold on long enough, and are sufficiently

polite and compliant, then the difficult adult
will take mercy and alter. These suffering

souls then take their misguided patience out
into their adult relationships, with similarly

negligible results. They are barred from a
crucial insight: that health at points involves

a lively capacity for giving up on certain

  1. We are overly scared of being alone
    Our readiness to exit an unsatisfying relationship

is partly a measure of our confidence that
being on our own will be bearable and open

us up to future, more gratifying partners.
On both scores, an unhappy regard for oneself

will continuously undermine our reasonable
expectations. Who else would have us and,

worse, how could it be pleasant for any decent
person to spend time nurturing someone like

us? How much better to watch our best hopes
crash helplessly against the shores of our

current partner’s obdurate and quietly or
even unconsciously sadistic personality?

  1. We find kindness ‘boring’
    A troubled past will make us unusually unforgiving

towards genuine kindness when it comes along.
Nice people feel instinctively, boring, unsexy,

queasiness-inducing and eerie. We may be unable
to quite put a finger on what feels wrong

with our very kind date. We may say there
was no chemistry or that our interests don’t

align. But if we were able to know ourselves
better, what we would express would sound

a lot stranger: that certain candidates feel
wrong because we know they will be unable

to inflict upon us the sort of suffering that
we’ve grown up to feel is essential to our

sense of feeling loved. They are wrong because
they threaten to be kind.


In a better arranged society, there would
be instruction in the art of love-interviews

from an early age – and a process of vetting
at least as strict as that applied to learner

drivers. We would not be left to crash our
lives without some prior help and counsel.

For now, many of us should at least be aware
of the extent to which our impulses will be

profoundly misleading when the early years
were filled with suffering. We shouldn’t

blame ourselves, just accept that we need
to learn how to do a very unfamiliar and for

us rather extraordinary thing: treat ourselves

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