There's this saying that my therapy professor always say "the apple don't fall too far from the tree" and I would be really annoyed because I did not want to end up like my parents or marry my parents!!!!! no thanks. WIth three years of training in psychoanalytic work and trauma work and 10 years working with clients, I did realize my professor is not completely wrong. Let me elaborate, we do end up dating and marry a partner with similar traits of three closest caregivers (brother, sister, mother, father, grandparents). Often times, it is unconscious. The point of this exercise is making the unconscious conscious, so when you ask, why you are dating or marrying this person? you know exactly why. Also if you are single, these traits/adjectives are good list to look for as you swipe through your tinder or hinge profile or go on the first few dates!
I did this fun exercise with my husband, and found out how many positive/negative of traits he had of my caregivers. It was freaky! I thought I could escape and find a partner opposite of my parents, but little did I know, he had traits of my grandpa, which were kind, caring, protective but also very anxious like him.
I also did this exercise with my clients, and they really had so much fun, and I thought to myself, let me share this to the world!
This exercise is from Getting the LOVE You Want by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D if you want to learn more about it. It is amazing!
I modify and change the imago workup exercise a little bit to make it work for me, so don't freak out that it is not the same as their worksheets.
Step 1: Take out a blank piece of paper, and have three sections, and each section have two spots
Step 2: Now I want you to write mother, father, and another caregiver (older brother, aunt, uncle, grandfather, grandmother, nanny etc) who influenced you as you were growing up.
Step 3: Begin to list all the positive traits, describe them with simple adjectives such as kind, creative, warm, reliable, patient and so on.
Step 4: Begin to list all the negative traits.
Step 5: Circle all the negative and positive traits that seem to affect you the most.
Ta..Da! this is your Imago. Now you may ask, well Shanni, What the heck is Imago?
Imago is basically your ideal mate that you're unconscious, well now conscious because you did the exercise, that you look for or attracted to these traits in romantic partners. If you are single, these are traits you might be aware of and if you dating, these are traits that you keep finding in partners, and if you are married, these are traits that made you marry your partner!
Let me know how it goes and happy dating!