While most of those who take another chance at tying the knot make an appropriate choice, there are just as many who don't. They pick the wrong one all over again -- one like the person they left behind. More precisely, they gravitate toward the same kind of person they were incompatible with in the first place; the one who likely caused them so much grief.
Why is that?
Certainly, there have been many studies conducted on the subject of why divorcees are often repeat offenders in the "soul-mate selection" department. I've seen many of those studies. And, I have my own theories, too, since I've had many clients return to my office--the ones I help with divorce proceedings more than once. They are often the same people for whom I draft premarital and postnuptial agreements as they move forward in their love lives. As a result, I get to know my clients fairly well. I am privy to a behind-the-scenes look. Many of my clients' mates are eerily familiar to the former one(s) in astonishing ways!
I notice similar patterns.
Patterns are simply habits. Habits are caused by psychological triggers. Just as one might pick up honeydew rather than cantaloupe, time and time again, the familiarity of what is titillating or comfortable drives that repetitive behavior. Also, there is some type of Pavlov component to the repetitive selection process -- a magnet that pulls one in. It could be for various reasons; I'm not judging. Whatever the reason, a person becomes helpless against that "pull." If you ask most people, falling in love is a process that is not usually associated with practicality, it is driven by the thrill of one's emotions. So then, when choosing a subsequent mate, common sense goes right out the window, and often takes with it prior lessons learned. The studies I've read seem to indicate that many of the triggers are subconscious and I agree with that, but how to tell why you keep "picking the same person" is where the answer lies. It is a trap. And one can only avoid a trap if he/she looks at the new relationship objectively. That's a hard state of mind to come by -- being objective--especially when romantic feelings are swirling out of control.
After years of experience handling divorces and marital contracts, I can almost predict which clients I will see again. Sadly, some keep making the same misguided choice(s). They are the ones who ultimately file for yet another divorce. If I sense that danger is looming, I often gently suggest to my clients that they answer the five following questions, candidly, to see if they might be headed for the same misery they worked so hard to get away from.
1. Are you susceptible to the "swept-off-your-feet" syndrome?: Those relationships that start with a euphoric bang--are as intoxicating as any drug. Just like any other addiction, some people are drawn to the "fix." But, it will likely wear off. Stand back and take a careful look. Is it the familiar come-on line that draws you in? The overwhelming vibe of power that he/she exudes? A familiar demeanor (wonderfully confident) that rings your bell? Whatever the triggers that seduced you quickly the last time around (and time(s) before that), will likely be motivators to jump in hurriedly, feet-first, once again. If it's love at first sight, take a second look. You might merely love the romantic rush, not the person. Caution: You might be coupling up with same type of mate as before, and headed for disappointment. If those initial feelings are more of a rush than a careful look-see, that's a danger sign, not an indicator that you finally found Mr. or Ms. Right.
2. Does your new mate resemble the old one in looks and/or personality? Any similarities In physical characteristic: dress, charm, and habits? I once knew a guy who was married four times. I handled all four of his divorces. Each time, he chose a brunette with shoulder length hair; same occupation; and a penchant for bourbon. If there is too much of a resemblance in any way from the old mate(s) to the new one(s), chances are you're simply recycling. Habits are hard to break. Once you make this determination, you will gain clarity. Once you're clear, you can make an informed choice, not a habitual one.
3. Do you have the need to be saved/rescued or need to save or rescue your mate? It is common to settle on a mate who you think will take care of you -- one who will handle all the negative events in your life. You may have struggled after that last breakup with your finances, children, emotions...and are simply waiting for your prince or princess to rescue you. On the other hand, you may be the "rescuer" -- the type that needs to save the day in order to feel valued. Could either of these be the pattern to which you are drawn? If so, step back. It's healthy to "do" for one another, but if you answer "yes" (honestly) to either of these dynamics you're likely to wind up with the same 'ole person and another breakup.
4. Do you feel restless or incomplete without a mate? If you're not able to live life on your own with a reasonable amount of fun, vitality and optimism -- if you're not able to function in a productive way, chances are you're waiting for a significant other to fill a void. I have many clients who are "over-lappers' and go from one relationship to another without any breathing room so they never really sort out what may have gone wrong. Those who learn to be independent have a better chance of choosing well the next time. Feeling restless? Have a chronic passive longing to be "with" someone? Try to fill the gap with finding ways to be a better you, whether that is excelling in your job, mastering a new hobby, or finally enjoying the holidays rather than dreading them. Take some time off from love.
5. Do your values differ from those of your newly chosen mate? If you have already found someone you might want to commit to or when you do, this is the most important question of them all! At the end of the day, what breaks up most couples is a disparity of value systems. Does he like to throw money away and you like to watch every penny? Does she like to get out of town on Thanksgiving while you prefer being surrounded by family? Does he like to openly flirt to an excess and you find that behavior an outright betrayal? Does she make up all the rules when it comes to disciplining the children and you're points of view aren't even considered? If there are major clashes in values, you may very well pick out of the opposites-attract bag (like you did last time). Before committing again, the first "objective" inventory you may want to take is that of itemizing your mate's values and compare them to your own. Look at the checklist of what broke up your last and/or other relationships. Most likely it was a difference of too many opposing perspectives and opinions.
Above all, remain objective as you answer these questions. It may save you from trapping yourself in making yet another disastrous mate choice and winding up in another bad relationship.