Why We Love Who We Love

Decode your "love map" and unearth the formula behind attraction

by Rachel A. Sussman • LCSW

Have you ever stopped to consider the possibility that when it comes to romance, there is an actual formula behind who you find yourself attracted to?  You may consciously be aware that you prefer men who are funny, intelligent, handsome, or ambitious, but what if I were to tell you that there is so much more to this formula – and the majority of it is hidden deep in your psyche.

There are numerous factors that go into determining who sparks our interest and who we pick as partners. Love, attraction and pheromones are certainly key components, but there are countless others that dictate the choices we make. Exploring this subject matter has always fascinated me and over the past several years I have tenaciously focused on solving this mystery.

For example, consider Barbara’s predicament. A beautiful and lively woman, she was left by her husband several years ago after he revealed his involvement with another woman. Her husband was a demanding guy with many acute narcissistic qualities that other’s regularly noticed.  But to her, it didn’t resonate. She was devastated when he left.  Is it simply an accident that today she is involved with a man that is even more narcissistic than her ex?

My client Rita is sharp and savvy, yet she continually struggles to make sense of her marriage. She and her husband argue better than they get along, and both are experts at pushing each other’s buttons. She is often frustrated and angry at her circumstances. She is also oblivious to the multi-layered dynamics that are at play between them, which contribute to their problematic relationship.

Over the past thirty years, women in the United States have become nearly autonomous when it comes to making relationship decisions. We are freer today than we’ve ever been to make our own choices regarding romance. Yet time and again I encounter really smart women who find themselves in complicated dating patterns, difficult relationships, and disastrous divorces. And most are completely unaware that there are actual circumstances that merged together which lead them right smack into these unfortunate situations.  

There are many coincidences in life, but few coincidences in love. You might have met him by chance, but there is a reason you chose him among others, and there are other reasons yet that determined the trajectory of your relationship.  Through my research I discovered that from the beginning of life, countless little nuances merged together to influence our dating, romance and breakup behaviors. In order to explore these crucial factors I created a revolutionary exercise called “creating your personal love map”. Deciphering that vast amount of information will help you both understand and deeply enhance your romantic relationships.

The map examines four aspects from your earlier life that influenced the formation of your personality today. It forces you to ask yourself a host of questions surrounding the categories outlined below, and it enables you to engage in meaningful self reflection:

Biological: What part has genetics played in the development of your personality?

Cultural: What part has society, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic class, and the culture in which you were raised played in the development of your personality?

Social: Reflect on how your self-esteem was formed, and compare that with how you were perceived or perceived yourself as a child through young adulthood.

Psychological: How you were raised and how you “attached” to your parents has enormous influence on how you developed.

Through evaluating and understanding these fundamentals, you will be able to have a much clearer picture of your relationship motivation and behavior, and you’ll be more proficient in conducting a fuller assessment of your partner’s or ex’s motivation and behavior. Decoding this information is a critical component in the creation of emotional intelligence and relationship proficiency.

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