Why Our Partners Drive Us Mad
100 Comments


The romantic story of love tells us that our search for a partner is inspired – above all else by desire to find someone, who can make us happy. But the truth is a little bit more confused and peculiar for one of the oddest aspects of love is in tracking down a mate. We don’t in fact look out just for anyone who seems kind, good and attractive. We look out for someone, who will fulfill a number of pre-existing psychological requirements, which could include: subterranean appetite for frustration and humiliation. We are constrained in our love choices by what we’ve learned of love as children. Adult love is in central ways a search for rediscovery of emotions first known in childhood. In order to prove exciting and attractive, the partner we pick must reawoke many of the feelings we once had around parental figures. And these feelings, though they may include tenderness and satisfaction, are also likely to feature a more troubling range of emotions, perhaps a desire to prove ourselves to someone, who is always slightly skeptical of us, or feeling of shame around sexuality, or a need to cheer up someone with depressive tendencies. We can find ourselves of rejecting certain candidates in adulthood, not so much because they are wrong, as because they feel a little bit too right. That is, we dimly intuit that they’re not going to make us suffer in the ways we need to suffer in order to feel that love is real. The romantic view of love suggests that we end up in bad relationships by mistake. The psychological view suggests that we end up in tricky places by unconscious intent; without being fully aware of our wish, we need our partner to have a failing that our parents once had so that we can repeat the flawed, but potent, dynamic we once had as children. Though in most cases, we’re drawn to people with the very same things as a parent, occasionally a relationship pays tribute to a parent’s failings in a slightly different way: we act towards our partner as our parent once acted towards us. We push the partner into the role we once inhabited as a child. We may leave our partner uncertain where they stand or deeply aware of their inadequacies. We may shout at their failures or complain of their inadequate performance in the eyes of the world. It seems we are fated either to seek out the fault of a parent in a partner or to mimic the fault of the parent with a partner. Either way, the fault of the parent is central to our love choices. Without it, we may simply not be able to feel passionate or tender with someone. We might imagine we would only be attracted to admirable traits, to perfection, to very positive things about a loved one. Yet, just below the conscious radar, it is the failings that lure us in. Because we don’t automatically see what we’re doing, it can be helpful to actively try to compare past and present. For example, to reflect on how a parent is feeling, and then to audit how we often feel around a partner. Correspondences can be as striking as they are humbling. We become aware of the tricky strips we’re following to want to leave a relationship at once. But, this implies we might easily be able to overcome the sort of people we’re attracted to. A less dramatic but still hopeful strategy is to try to deal more successfully with our compulsions within an existing relationship. What this involves is accepting the extent to which we’re liable to be dealing with the issues in our couple with some of the immaturity of a child, the child we were when we first encountered the compelling flaws of our parents. We should feel sympathy for ourselves for facing a double challenge in love. We’re attracted to adults who have some of the failings we knew in childhood. But then in dealing with these failings we have none of the resources, wisdom and competence that someone who had enjoyed adequate parenting in relation to them would have been able to master The failings we’re most attracted to become those we’re least set up to deal with We love a slightly distant person but we can’t deal with the silences We’re drawn to free spirits but we can’t deal with the attendant anxieties In other words, our emotional legacy doesn’t just involve an attraction to certain failings It also involves a style of responding to these failings that’s stuck at the level of traumatized childhood. And typically involves panic, terror, cold withdrawal, projection, shame and obsessive rigidity We should untertake an unusual thought experiment To imagine the responses that an ideal, mature person might display in relation to the challenges we face. We should imagine what the mature person might do in relation to a partner who was often working or who made them feel ashamed of sex or who’s career was in decline. A mature person would’t be pleased or unfazed but they would have the inner skills to navigate the rocks calmly. They would resist jealous rages or silent sulks They would know how to wait for the right moment to deliver a point They might have the inner freedom to make a joke out of a problem They wouldn’t have to crush a weaker party Keeping such possibilities in our minds helps us to see that our own instinctive responses aren’t necessary or normal They are the responses of people who underwent a lot of trouble before they had any idea of how to cope with it We should create a zone of possibility in which we can regularly imagine having a different and more constructive response to our partners audities We should accept that the way to have a better relationship is likely to lie not in firing the partner We are with them for tricky but firm reasons but in doing some internal work to learn better how to cope with the problems we face with them We can come to accept that being uncomplicatedly happy in love was never going to be our leading psychological possibility given our childhoods. But that we may gradually learn to make our peace with character traits in our partners that are as troublesome as they are compelling.

100 thoughts on “Why Our Partners Drive Us Mad

  1. Single white male seeking female who mimics my mother's abandonment habits and makes me feel ashamed for being who I am.

  2. Not sure that I agree with this. My opposite sex parent was abusive, rageful, demeaning, undermining, gas lighting, neglectful and humiliating. My same sex parent was passive/complicit. I am experiencing strong attraction people who, although they aren't abusive, alternate between super sweet and uninterested/uncaring. I've always been strongly attracted to people who weren't good enough for me by any measure but made me feel not good enough for them. I don't want this. I want a mature, loving, supportive partner. So my strategy has been to write down all their bad behaviour and traits constantly. Then compare this with my own behaviour and the traits of a partner that I want. And look at what I have written down constantly. I also make a list of the people I've met in my past whom I wasn't necessarily majorly drawn to but who turned out to be perfect partners that I let slip and how crushed I now feel. This is more helpful than trying to "be mature" about a partner who isn't good for me. You can overcome your past with a lot of emotional strength and will power.

  3. @TheSchoolofLife I'm very interested in the psychological connection between parental figures and our future partners that you discuss in this video and would like to know/read more about that. I've read some Freud that talks about this sort of thing, but I was wondering if you guys (or anyone else) could throw some psychologist or psych texts that explain this phenomenon my way to learn more about this? Thanks, very interested.

  4. my father used to Beat me and my mother up all the time and he would also emotionally torture us my mother always stood up for him tho ….now its like im afraid of human relationships or something i dont even have any Friends other then my husband .

  5. I clicked on this video cause I thought it was "why our parents drive us mad ".. its a priority for some single people.. you know…

  6. This is a limiting view that we have to re-live our "emotional legacy" forever. There is a number of tools in psychology field that can help us to get de-programmed. Hypnotherapy, for example, is amazing for helping us out of our vicious cycles. Proper diet and nutrition is up on the list as well.. But then again, majority of people really prefer to be right rather than happy.

  7. My partner don't drive me mad in any kind of way and we have bin together for about 11 years now and have bin living together for 10. My parents drive me mad specially my mother.

  8. I've always asked why put yourself in this situation.
    This leads me to think in a Darwinian point of view, where your partner becomes your therapist, they become someone to fix your deep psychological issues, and in order to do this, they needed to have traits to remind you of your parents. In the grand scheme of things, this is beneficial to the individual.

  9. well this explains a lot i have no intrest in love or a realtionship but by this logic it must have been beacuse i was raised by a single mother who was distant and a exsisive drinker

  10. I don't buy it. My parents have a pretty unhealthy view of romantic love. My mum has openly admitted that she married my dad because of his social status/ earning potential, and she then had an affair that lasted for years with someone she thought was "the one". They've told me that they weren't particularly excited by each other, and basically just got married because that's what people do. My mum is absolutely all over the place emotionally, and doesn't really have any real, true friendships (just superficial ones). In terms of my relationship with my parents- my mum was never really there for me, favoured my brother a lot. My dad creeps me out with his sexist views of women, and having once referred to me as his "girlfriend", and often making weird jokes around me. We don't have much of a relationship now, just small talk. If we do talk about anything real, it's mum asking me for advice.

    I've managed to get into and stay in a relationship (coming up to 1.5 years) with a boy who's parents obviously aren't perfect, but genuinely love each other and have loved spending their lives together. They're fun, warm, jokey, sociable, and definitely have real and true friendships in their lives. He's got almost no emotional issues and is totally comfortable with who he is and has a peaceful and relaxed outlook on life. I've managed to come to a place of being comfortable with him by normalising the idea of love and healthy relationships in my mind. I never let him say that we have an especially happy or good relationship, because I have this strange thing where if I perceive myself to be doing "better" in any way than anyone else, I want to shut it down and cause it to fail. But anyway- we have a great, love based relationship with good communication and understanding of each other. He had a very healthy relationship with his parents, so I guess that helps.

    My parents' relationships with me, and their relationships with others, have definitely influenced my friendships- for some reason I'm having trouble forming friendships that are as real and strong as the friendships I had during my school years. But I really don't buy this "accept the flaws your parents have given you and be okay with it". You can change them! If my dad could come from my wonderful healthy grandparents and create an unhealthy relationship, I can come from an emotionally unhealthy family and create a healthy one.

    Yeah, it's good to recognise your beliefs about life and yourself and how they're flawed. But you don't need to stop there- you can change them!

  11. Why aren't there any sources referenced in this video? Is this evidence based or pure interpretation? What about those who have arranged marriages and then fall in love? They didn't unconsciously choose anyone. What about those people getting mad at their partners?

  12. My partner drives me mad because he is always hanging out with his friends and doesn't really spend much quality time with me. I don't mind him having friends and going out with them, but damn it, at least spend one day with me every so often. I mean, Christ, the only day we see each other is Saturday but instead of spend it with me he goes out with friends all day and then thinks a couple hours of Netflix and (maybe) chill is enough.

  13. so true i love my bf but he's so cold at times deep down inside i need that coldness if that makes sense

  14. Ok so I've always been drawn to people who are 'unattainable' for some reason, like I can't really be with them for one reason or another. As a child my parents loved me but were always away working and would leave me at kindergarden, or leave to live with my grandparents and would only visit sometimes in weekends and whenever I was with them they would push me to go play with the other kids and I hated it because I thought the other kids were boring and stupid and wanted to be with my parents because they seemed interesting and cool. But subconsciously I felt I needed to stick to them as much as possible because I knew I wouldn't get to be with them for long. When I was 12 my mom and I moved to another country and my dad stayed behind. In the following years I would see my dad twice a year and my mom would spend time with me and my little brother (7 years younger) in the evenings after work and in the weekends, but not always because she wanted to have time for herself and go on dates to find a new man. The pattern of rejection continued and I always felt like the time spent with my parents was never enough.

    How do I deal with being only romantically interested in people I can't really be with (because they're either too old, not the right sexual orientation, or they just don't want a relationship at this point in their life). I want to break this pattern and I want to fall in love with someone who loves me back but you can't stir your feelings like that.

  15. Took me only two videos to realize that this channel is gold, subscribed. Time to spam my boyfriend. LOL Jokes but really nice channel!

  16. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS! I can see why I actually felt that my ex was the 'one'.
    I'm pretty sure that if I'm EVER gonna marry, I'll not face a divorce 'coz then I'd be more enlightened about the inner workings of our psychology, thanks to your initiative which has given me a push in that direction to better understand myself and others. Wish more people were aware of the intricacies of emotions and feelings, we could've saved ourselves from so many heartbreaks!
    PS: Your videos are really creative (and funny sometimes)!

  17. That moment when you realize that all mainstream psychology is really just Freud reexplained with less objectionable terminology.

  18. Love the videos. Thanks for everything. You have made me a better person with a firmer grasp of what it is to be human. You are a force for good in this world. Bless!

  19. I couldn't watch all of this. I think that those people who had issues with their parents, or who had parents who had issues with each other, would work in order to not have those same issues with their partner.

    For example, I let my partner know if they ever makes me feel like my mother did when I was a child, and we worked towards fixed that and it hardly ever comes up. I also told them why I was so afraid of entering a marriage with them, which had to do with my parent's resentment towards each other, and we decided that instead of blaming each other on everything, that we would work together and see every obstacle as a step towards tolerating each other better. If people are committed to making something work, they will find ways in order not to drive each other mad, and even when they do "drive you mad" you find ways to use that constructively. IDK man.

  20. might be the main reason why I am not really into being with anyone at the moment. no matter how many times other people tell me that I am different, I have a vague feeling that I might end up being an ass like my parents were with each other. so i wanted to be fully in terms with that possibility before I let someone else suffer.

  21. Staying single seems to be sooo much simpler dating is the most mind-fucking thing. But my brain won't stop telling me to spread my seed 😂

  22. I'd really appreciate thoughtful advices (and not simply raw and hurtful)
    I don't know what the fuck is wrong with me. My parents are divorced, but, before that, my mom always was the dominant one, the one who took care of everyone and everything. She took a lot of bullshit from my dad (not violence – just suspicious stories and behaviour), and that's what lead to their divorce. But, until now, she's the one who takes care of him, in a way. My dad has always been weak, disorganized and, honestly, a liar.
    So, here I am: first boyfriend, together for 4 years. A good guy when he's good, but absolutely TERRIBLE when he's bad. He's shady, and makes me feel like he hides things from me. He often makes me feel left behind and like I don't matter to him as he matters to me. We have fights and then we're okay, superficially. I can't say what I want from him without being called crazy, childish, envious.
    I don't know if I feel this way because he really is shady or because of my background – maybe my father's lies just destroyed my trust in people (if you want examples of things my bf does, tell me and I'll give them)
    I left him once and I couldn't get over him. He started speaking to me again a couple months after I left and I ran straight back to eat in his hand.
    I cry and feel disapointed at his behaviour very oftenly, but I don't leave him. I can't seem to do it again. Something deep down inside me tells me I can work it out, that it's better with him, that I'll suffer and he won't.
    My life is a rollercoaster and I'm driving myself INSANE, because, when I fight, I know I have my reasons, I know I AM right, but…. a day or two after the argument, I start to feel guilty ("maybe I overreacted?") and I just want to forget what happened and move on, even if it costs my standards. Even I am losing respect for myself. And I don't want to be that person.
    I… I know the answer is probably very obvious: to leave this relationship and find someone more suitable for me. But I want to understand myself and see in how can I be better. I still blame my behaviour for the things that happen and I can't live with this blame…
    Welp

  23. @The School of Life
    Could You explain this "we should imagine what the mature person might do in relation to a partner who … made them feel ashamed of sex" more?

  24. Whoa, this is just spot on for me. I broke up with my girlfriend recently for a bunch of reasons, but one of the main reasons I was going mad is I was constantly unsure if she really loved me. I'd use every little detail I could to enforce the idea that we were getting cold and she didn't feel a fraction of what she used to, in my mind. Turns out my mother often questioned (still does) my love for her. Wish I would have found this sooner, perhaps things might have turned out differently. Oh well, life moves on.

  25. All these comments about how people don't want to be like their parents….man I would LOVE to be like them one day!!! 😍😍

  26. The funny thing is. I have always told myself that being single is the best way to be and have enjoyed being single for years. But out of nowhere, someone just happens to come into your life. You and that person just "click", and everything changes. Next thing you know you go on a date, and you just cant wait for the second one. But you know that puppy love phase is going to finish at some point while dating. And so you turn to "The School of Life" videos lol

  27. i always believe that in order to put all the effort and work into a relationship so we can walk through our flaws together, the number 1 condition is that this relationship has a solid foundation on mutual trust. I've always done my best to understand my partner and communicate , and yes sometimes it drives me mad, but my partner cheated on me and did it again and again… and I just felt no matter how much effort I put to do good for him and taking time to understand him, a relationship without trust just can't go anyway. He would always tell me that he does not see my effort or it's not enough…and he would continue his lies thinking that I would never find out….

  28. It's true. I had a distant father and now that I've been thinking about it, the men I go after are distant and withholding and leave me feeling like I'm constantly being neglected. Well shit. I guess for me it isn't love unless I suffer. 😔 Maybe I'll just stay single seeing as how my bf of 2 years just ghosted me after a fight.

  29. If I had known that my childhood would have such a profound and unavoidable effect, I would have skipped it altogether 😂

  30. I think it's a little oversimplified but good video oberall.
    I would add that, it's a complex issue and not every childhood programming stays forever in our brain. With enough patience and mindfulness it's very possible to rewire as we age. Even subconscious attraction is very much in our control.

  31. And what if relationships are not meant to bring us happiness but growth? Once one gets conscious and is willing to work out the blocks, secure attachment and healthy relationship are on the program but guess what? There will be always something new to learn as we're never ever end growing.

  32. When our parents die, you realize how pity your complaints against your parents were. But by them, it is too late.

  33. I wonder how having an absence parent influences future relationships I had a absent father and all my partners have been a lot older then me and have been distant and dismissive of my feelings I wonder if this is because I did not have a male role model ?

  34. I have taken my father’s personality when it comes to intimacy. My entire life my father picked and chose when to be in my life—when to be a father. He only wanted to love me when he was in the mood, and now that’s how I am. I only seek relationships in forms of temporary intimacy like hooking up. I find myself feeling overwhelmed when I have a person in my life that is trying to get my attention constantly. I have ruined or sabotaged many relationships because I knew if I didn’t then I would have to care for that person when I honestly just want to care about myself. That’s my father. I hate it so much. Lol

  35. My mom is a narcissist. I always end up dating narcissists. They vary enough I guess where it slips by me every time until one day out the blue I’m like, “whoa, he totally fucked me over!!??!!”
    “Ohhh…ok.”

  36. I guess that's why the partners I had the strongest feelings for are the ones who gave me the least attention that I crave (and made me feel like I have to earn) because of my mom's neglect. If someone were too nice or too caring I'd like it at first but quickly feel smothered because that kind of love was never shown to me…

  37. so according to the video if our parents have been less understanding and dominating in our childhood ,we look for a partner who is less understanding and dominating in our adulthood?really??well i will definitely look for a partner who is exactly opposite that is understanding and wise and not dominating. i don't agree with this video.

  38. i remember asking an ex "why do you treat me so bad? if youre supposed to be my best friend, how come all my other friends treat me better than you? is it because we have sex?" she looked at me like i just exposed the biggest secret about women

  39. The part about auditing what we say based on looking at how our parents treat us… That resonates. Except I feel like I try to avoid acting or receiving actions that I hated receiving from my aggressive father. Idk.

  40. Everybody's got something. Don't try to change people. Expect people for who they are. Help when you can and know when someone needs space. Be the peace keeper

  41. I have a lot of trouble focusing on the content here because there's so much sound effects and — music???

    I appreciate the work that goes into these, but I wish there were access just to Alain's monologue without the frills.

  42. I always love it how they connect the relationship with parents and childhood with partnership now.

  43. May I add: Once and for all; Love; that emotion needs for to be Learned and Earned. And has to be worked on to be maintained. How's that(?)

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