Help! Why Do My Exes Go Out With Women Exactly Like Me

In Advice Column, Epic Relationships by Louisa Leontiades

Dear Louloria,

I am experiencing a pattern in my relationships that I would like some insight into please.

When my relationships come to an end, my exes choose a very similar woman to me as their next partner. They are similar to me in looks, tastes and personality. They also do it just a few weeks after our breakup. It’s painful to be replaced with someone so similar to me and especially so quickly–even though I have always been the one to break it off. I work with wellness and emotional blocks in the healing industry; it usually means that in our relationships, my partner and I go through extraordinary growth together which they appear to profit from… until they say it’s all too much. And then they go for someone just like me! 

[Question submitted by a one-to-one client; additional factors discussed in one-to-one meetings]

Ms. FormerPeoplePleaser

Dear Ms. FPP,

Relationship patterns are glorious things. They give us a concrete indicator that we are following a past survival mechanism and in this case yours is not resulting in what you want. A lasting/sustainable relationship. So we must look at changing it. But in order to find out answers, we must ask the correct questions. With that in mind, a question regarding someone else’s behaviour is less likely to be the one which helps you.

The questions you might think of asking instead could go something like this:

  1. Why do I find it easier to choose men who I feel have potential to grow?
  2. Why are they not ‘grown’ already? Why do I feel more comfortable as the teacher?
  3. Why is this my job in my personal life as well as my professional life? Where are the boundaries?
  4. Why do I find it easier to choose men who I feel can learn from me?
  5. Why do I find it attractive to be in a relationship where I can act as a service?

During other conversations you and I have discussed that in the past you were a people pleaser. We’ve discussed also how asserting your truth is important and how it had the potential to move you out from your ‘victim’ position. Look at the position that your exes have held in your life in relationship to the drama triangle. Have your actions been identifiably and/or disproportionately in one position? The questions above, if you feel they are suitable, seem to be that of a rescuer which means you have moved out of the victim position, from the frying pan into the fire. Don’t worry, it’s all part of the journey.

Just by way of your passion for your work, you have brought ideas and growth into your exes’ lives which was most likely unasked for, unwanted (despite what they may have said) and then resented. Thus you stopped serving their needs as a rescuer and became the persecutor. They needed to be rescued by someone else; how convenient that someone else so similar was nearby!

We all have a tendency to mimic familiar relationships because they feel in some way comforting. It’s a basic reptilian survival mechanism, our fears are of the unknown, not the known–even if the known is not the best thing for us. But I’m not talking about your exes, I’m talking about you. You choose to be in these relationships. Even if you want to extrapolate this hypothesis to their experience, I would advise especially in your case not to, since it seems you have a habit of taking responsibility for others power and/or emotions which feeds directly into the rescuer tendency. Now you can choose to stop that.

Being a rescuer means that you feel desirable in being needed. It’s common for a former people-pleaser to swap between the victim and rescuer positions, because in both cases you feel you are being a ‘good person’.

So now the question I must ask you is, where is your vileness? What is it you do not accept about your self which you fear would risk rejection? What parts of yourself can you now bring to awareness? We all have ‘vile’ thoughts, most of us have done ‘vile’ things in our time. You will be no different. In order to move out of the ‘do-good’ state of mind, you need to work with your ‘shadow side’ — those elements of your personality which remain hidden to your awareness. It is likely that full acceptance of these so-called ‘darker’ traits, when you find them, will be what allows you to move forward in building that final piece of your self-esteem–‘self-acceptance’–and will help you move out of the drama triangle in your relationships.

The ‘shadow side’ was a term coined by Jung (you’ll notice him quite often in my work). He suggested that since the shadow side is instinctive and irrational, being governed by the subconscious reptilian and limbic systems, it is ‘prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognised as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.’

It’s a feature of many self-identifying healers to claim they don’t ‘judge’ others… whilst pitying/helping other folk they perceive as ‘less grown’, and that’s still judging. On the whole, I have found that it is because healers, at least the newer ones, are unbalanced and less accepting of their humanity, including parts which others might deem ‘vile’. They aspire to be creatures of the light without realising that they also poo. You are not Arial or Caliban, you are a human being.

In the extreme, pushing unwanted and unasked for help onto someone is a form of violence and can even become gas lighting as you try and force your reality onto someone else’s life. Their journey is their own, and so is yours. Be aware that at least your ex (whom we have talked about), probably bought into your reality because he was trying to please you and you simply fed off each other.

Falling in love as a people pleaser is difficult; you have a tendency to sacrifice all your boundaries for the sake of the relationship to get that nice oxytocin and what you feel is a purpose filled life. And when you’ve stopped being a people pleaser, you may well–as I believe you have done–play the opposite side of the coin, and cross other people’s boundaries (either as rescuer or persecutor). Boundary learning is hard; and you’re doing a great job. Maybe the next one’s a keeper, but only if you do the work.

Good Luck,

Louisa