7 Reasons Strong People Tend To Attract Difficult Relationships

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1. People who develop mental and emotional strength usually do so because of their childhood experiences. Likewise, it’s common for people to re-create their earliest relationships out of a desire for comfort, rather than love.

The reason so many relationships fail as spectacularly as they do is because what we are fundamentally looking for is not love, but comfort. We seek to re-create the first relationships we knew as they defined intimacy for us. Of course, this is an entirely subconscious function. We think we want our perfect match, really we want what we perceive to be our “missing piece,” the thing withheld in childhood or lost through adolescence. It’s for this reason that many children of alcoholics marry addicts — they seek to fix what they couldn’t in youth.

2. Strong people usually do not find their happiness in anything that comes easily to them.

Strong people find their happiness in perseverance and commitment to something they can work on and grow with. While this seems like a positive mindset to have, it can backfire when it affects how they choose their romantic partners. A relationship only works if you’re willing to commit even when it’s hard, not choose it because it’s hard.

3. Strong people tend to give their strength to what they love.

When strong people fall in love, they almost adopt that person into their own identity, and aren’t quick to realize when they’re giving away their power at the other person’s benefit and their own detriment. Likewise, strong people have a laser focus — the more they are fixated on a difficult relationship, the more it becomes exacerbated.

4. Vulnerability and intimacy can be triggering for people who have had to build their mental and emotional strength from the ground up.

Their strength was built from somewhere, and that place tends to be revisited when a romantic relationship is entered. As soon as someone becomes uncomfortable with exposing their vulnerabilities (which is usually required for intimacy) their ego defenses raise, and it’s easy to sever a connection in favor of remaining comfortable.

5. Strong people tend to dislike being wrong.

Sure, genuine strength is being able to admit your mistakes, but not everybody arrives at that place of true detachment so easily. Inner strength = a solid sense of self, which functions on the basis of believing you are “right” and “good.” Nobody likes to be wrong, but strong people in particular would sometimes rather be right than happy…

6. Strong people are oddly susceptible to sticking in difficult — sometimes abusive — situations for far too long, as they believe that they can change them.

They’re less sensitive to the red flags that other people would perceive as signals to absolutely move on. While this is undoubtedly a strength in some areas of their lives — resilience is something you earn — it is a major downfall if they aren’t able to recognize when a situation is not theirs to fix or wait out.

7. Relationships are mirrors, and growing tools. Sometimes the most difficult relationships teach strong people how to be stronger.

And kinder, and more loving, and happier, and more thoroughly themselves. Sometimes, strong people attract difficult relationships for the sheer reason that they want to be challenged (even if this isn’t the healthiest route to take). If nothing else, strong people are the opposite of complacent.

This post originally appeared on Soul Anatomy. Buy the author’s new book, 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think, here.