Being loved incorrectly is an easy habit to develop. We acquire it in childhood.
No one should have children to validate, love, complete, or entertain us, but many of our parents did just that. As a result, many of us were born into situations already stacked against us.
If we are born into chaos, dysfunction, and/or substance abuse, we are most likely to be loved incorrectly, and to believe that is the norm. In a twisted way we know how to deal with it.
Dysfunctional parents come in many forms, but most have this in common. They expect their children to be extensions of themselves, and to validate, comfort and take care of them.
It’s supposed to be the other way around.
Children can’t supply adult needs. Children can love us purely and innocently, but they need us to model and teach them how to love correctly and deeply, by our loving them that way.
We aren’t supposed to have children to validate, love, complete, or entertain us.
It’s not fair to the child to expect these things from them. Their brains aren’t fully developed until they’re 25.
Neither is yours if you have your children when you’re younger than 24 or 25, as my parents did. Two or more undeveloped brains in a family, and a baby or toddler who doesn’t have language to communicate needs, can be a volatile, even dangerous, combination.
I’m a therapist. I’ve seen and heard things about these situations which I won’t detail here. What I will detail is how romantic love can go so wrong after a traumatic childhood, and why we get accustomed to being loved incorrectly.
Incorrect love feels familiar.
That’s it, the big reveal. Incorrect love feels familiar.
Did your parents fight? You will either be terrified of fighting with a partner, to the point of becoming codependent and giving in on everything, or you will follow your parents’ example and start arguments. Sometimes both at different times. Some survivors of traumatic parental arguments leave at the first disagreement in a relationship, derailing the relationship.
Were you disparaged as a child? Was everything you did laughed at or ignored? Then being disparaged by a partner will feel familiar. It might even come to seem normal, especially if the disparagement is couched as “humor.” If disparagement is what you’re used to, you might also disparage your partner as a defense mechanism.
Were you neglected as a child? Then neglect from a partner feels normal. Or, you become clingy and demanding in an attempt to fill the hole left by your parents’ neglect. When you are neglected as a child, it feels as if no love you receive as an adult is enough. This can lead to cheating in an effort to feel “enough” love and get “enough” attention.
If you were abused physically or sexually or both, you can become an adult who accepts such treatment by a partner. Again, because it feels familiar, Your boundaries were so consistently violated when you were a helpless child, that it’s difficult for you to set and maintain boundaries as an adult.
It’s never too late to heal from being loved incorrectly.
Therapy helps you recognize the patterns and habits. Through therapy you can identify the negative types of familiarity. You can learn to spot the signs earlier in a potential partner who treats you in the unhealthy ways your parents treated you. You can also change your own behavior in relationships for the better.
Partners can help heal each other, if their needs are conscious and communicated clearly to the other. First you have to know what your deepest needs are, and then let your partner know. If they also want a healthy relationship, they will agree to help you heal, rather than use your vulnerability against you.
Wouldn’t you rather be loved correctly than incorrectly? Wouldn’t you like to offer correct love, not incorrect love? You can. It requires introspection, insight, work on yourself first, and then choosing a partner willing to also do all of that for themselves as well.
Let’s break the habit of being loved incorrectly.
This post was previously published on New Choices.
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