Are We Really Attracted to People Who Are Like Our Parents?

Are We Really Attracted to People Who Are Like Our Parents?

"She kinda reminds me of my mom," Shahs of Sunset's Mike Shouhed says of his new lady.

By Marianne Garvey

Mike Shouhed and Jessica Parido split after eight months of marriage, and the Persian playboy has been around the block, as they say.

But the Shahs of Sunset star is dating someone new, and he likes her — so much so she reminds him of his mom, and that's a good thing. 

“She's super smart, takes care of herself, a boss ... kinda reminds me of my mom," Mike says. “I like women who are beautiful, I like a girl who's in shape ... low-maintenance but still takes care of herself.”

People do tend to gravitate towards partners who remind them of their parents, or even look like them. What’s up with that?

Clinical psychologist A. Jordan Wright tells Personal Space says there are some professional theories as to why people are attracted to others who slightly resemble one of their parents, though there are obviously many other factors that contribute to choosing a mate.

“One theory is evolutionary,” he tells us. “From a procreation perspective, mating with a distant relative is the best chance for producing many healthy children. So being attracted to someone who looks vaguely like a close relative may be a sneaky evolutionary way to increase the chances that that person is a distant relative.”

Ew, but OK. The heart wants what the heart wants?

“More psychologically, we form templates for relationships with others early on in life, based on our relationships with our parents and other major early figures,” he adds. “These templates influence how we interact with others throughout the rest of our lives (they are changeable, though). How we expect women to behave, and then how we choose to interact with them, can be influenced by the type of relationship we had with our mothers. These templates are broad schematics, but they do influence how we behave with others. One part of these schematics may subtly and unconsciously be 'triggered' by a vague resemblance to one of these primary (parental) figures. Some research has suggested that physical similarities emerge in this way when the person had a good relationship with their parents. So that positive interaction (and feeling) may be unlocked by even a slight physical resemblance to one of those positive parental figures.”

Certified coach and therapist, Dr. Liz Lasky, Ph.D., LCSW, says that yup, the relationships we choose are based on those we have with our parents, like it or not.

“For better or worse, we learn how to have relationships based on the relationships and attachment we have with our parents. From the time we are little, our connection to our parents dictates how we relate to others for the rest of our lives,” she says. “We learn how to connect from our parents, our parents learned how to connect from their own parents, and so on. We inherit an entire lineage of how to have relationships from generations before us.”

Maybe without even knowing it, people often mimic parental relationship and attachment patterns, she tells us.

“In fact, people often have a high tolerance for unhealthy behaviors or maladaptive dynamics in relationships because it has been modeled for them,” she says.

Eye opener.

“Does this mean you’re doomed if your parents’ marriage failed? Not at all. My clients are dating and getting into relationships while they learn new relationship skills,” she adds. “The first step is awareness of what you want in a relationship and to notice what is in your way from getting it. When it comes to romantic relationships, we may fall for people who remind us of our parents. It’s not uncommon for this to be an unconscious process. Some people have the absolute opposite reaction and fall for people are nothing like their parents in any way.”

 Credit: Mike Shouhed/Instagram

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