How People Cope with The Same Weakness

One of the most impactful ideas I’ve read is from Harville Hendrix who observed that people tend to form relationships with others who have the same internal weakness as them but cope opposite to them, for example, if you feel stupid and behave by always sticking to your opinion, you’ll attract relationships with people who respond in the opposite manner with self-doubt and vice versa. The reason being is we subconsciously want to heal and feel whole, which happens when we form these relationships, but this isn’t enough. Being whole by association isn’t enough. One needs to be able to actually act opposite to their typical pattern of behaviour. This realization changed how I viewed fights with my ex-girlfriend, now wife. 

The reason we fought is because an inner part(s) of ourselves was triggered. The wounds we got from childhood are being pressed in the same way they were when we were first scarred by them. Our subconscious has drawn us towards this situation to give us the chance to see why it hurts and to hopefully bring to conscious awareness the reason that we’re in a triggered state. My wife and I got into the same fights over and over like a series of loops, we’d live the same torturous moments repeatedly until we looked at within ourselves and saw why this was happening. One thing I learned is that there is no such thing as others causing you problems, you create all your problems. This perspective made me change the way I looked at our fights, I was always looking for what my role in the problem is, funny enough, that was also partly rooted in my belief that I was stupid and so I’d be looking at myself too much, and my wife would blame everything but herself. 

This perspective changed my entire relationship. All the illusory differences I once saw between us were dispelled, I was now looking to find the similarities within. The craziest thing to me now is how I ever thought we were different, I was ignorant to what was really going on, but now I see through the surface level behaviour and realize it all stemmed from the same place. We are the same. 

At the beginning of our relationship it seemed as if we were total opposites, I wasn’t honestly even sure if I wanted to be with her for a long time (also partly due to a fear of commitment). I see now we’ve always been the same and it’s as if we both slowly made our way to the center of the spectrum on all our weaknesses, finally converging on a harmonious equilibrium that has made us whole. 

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