When it comes to your romantic relationship, how many times have you been asked, or wondered yourself, whether you have “daddy or mommy issues”? Have you ever said out loud, “I married my father,” and didn’t mean it in a good way?

And while it’s an annoying question or thought, there is some truth behind it. We unconsciously choose our romantic partners to fulfill a void from our childhood.

Children need to be loved unconditionally, and not on certain conditions. That means a child should be loved no matter what she does wrong, no matter how she behaves, and no matter whether she is unruly or painfully shy. But unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. A parent can often reward the child for behavior that the parent wants, not what the child is naturally conditioned to do. Thus, she harbors a pain in her heart that goes well into her adult years.

And so when she meets her mate, she is unconsciously looking for closure from the parent that wounded her. She becomes attracted to someone who resembles that parent, hoping that she will get the love that she never had as a child.

But as you can imagine, and may have experienced yourself, this mate continues to portray the same unloving behavior as the parent, and the painful cycle continues. The void within you grows deeper, and you are constantly resentful of never getting that love – and it seems like such a simple request, doesn’t it? You may ask your partner, “Why can’t you just love me – give me respect, trust, and your time?”

Our expectation that a romantic partner will “complete us” and make our life better is a false premise – only we can do that for ourselves.

But all is not lost here – in fact, once you become aware that you married your father or mother is a huge blessing! It means you still have some learning to do – and your partner is there to teach you that. He or she may show you that deserve more for yourself, that you are allowed to have boundaries, you are allowed to say ‘no’ and not get punished for it – these are things you never learned as a child.

As many of you know, I lost my mother in a car accident when I was 6 years old. My father was largely emotionally unavailable because he had to keep going and survive. I lacked the nurturing and love that I so greatly needed – and I thought, “When I get married, I will feel that love that I never had.”

So when I met my ex husband in college, he was very much a father figure to me – I needed that paternal love in my younger years, but once I hit 30, I grew out of it. I began to resent him trying to control me like a parent and I later realized I married him because I needed that at one time in my life.

We all use people to help us grow – and while it may sound harsh, it is true, and it is a good thing. There is something about you that is pushing your partner to his or her limits. You are being used in the same way you are using others. That’s why we have relationships – to learn something about ourselves.

If you are still in an unfulfilling relationship, ask yourself, “What is this person teaching me?” rather than being hateful of them. Some of us learn quickly – for others, it can take decades. There is no right amount of time – so just observe the lessons.

As for your “daddy or mommy issues” – look deep within you to see what you are still missing, and don’t expect another person to fulfill them. If your father never gave you attention, or perhaps he didn’t tell you were smart or pretty, how can you do that for yourself? You are no longer that little girl who needs that kind of attention, although you may think you do. Now that you are an adult, you can create a love for yourself – all by yourself.

If you can acknowledge this void and not expect your partner to fill it – you are WAY ahead of the game. You will no longer feel burdened by your partner – you will be able to walk away or just let it go. You will no longer feel this urge to be in a relationship. You will just feel darn good, and easily provide yourself with all things that inner child has craved.

You have that miraculous power to do so.

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