The ‘Choose Me Dynamic’ in Relationships - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

The ‘Choose Me Dynamic’ in Relationships

In our formative years, our life experience can put us in a situation (or maybe even into chronic situations) where a person (or the people) in our life does not find a win-win scenario and as a result, chooses between us or our best interests and something else. It’s the child whose dad chooses to move to a different part of the country to be with the new step mom. It’s the child who felt replaced by a younger sibling that was preferred. It’s the child whose dad chooses the needs of his own career rather than to be there for the child when he or she needs him. It’s the child who is put into the middle of a contentious divorce and is expected to choose between mom and dad and thus learns that being chosen is what love is. This type of experience can cause a great deal of trauma. Not only can it cause a great deal of trauma, it can give rise to a dysfunctional association between being chosen and love. 

It makes perfect sense that these types of experiences would create a strong desire to be chosen. You want to be chosen because you were not chosen before. To you, being chosen is an affirmation of your significance, importance and value. It is an indication of the degree to which you are cared about, wanted, loved and thus prioritized. You have learned that anything less than this is both tormenting for your self-esteem and is unsafe. But there are a few shadows lurking in this desire. Shadows that can destroy relationships and also other people’s lives. Shadows that can keep the chain of the suffering of ‘not being chosen’ going and going.

The first shadow is that because the need to find resolution for what is unresolved is so great, instead of consciously going to the place where we will be prioritized and in essence, chosen, we will unconsciously choose into a situation that mirrors our actual childhood experience. This means, we will gravitate to a situation where we are unlikely to be chosen or at the very least, have stiff competition. On a subconscious level, we feel that getting someone in this situation to choose us, will resolve the pain of our childhood experience. In other words, we don’t want someone who really does prioritize a romantic partner to choose and prioritize us. We want someone who currently prioritizes career to choose and prioritize us. We don’t want the available person to be available. We want the unavailable person to be available. You can see this shadow clearly in the woman who goes for a married man, hoping that he will one day leave his wife and choose to be with her instead. Because we don’t go straight for our need where we can actually get it, we enter into a situation that is incompatible with our need and force everything to change so as to meet our need, no matter the cost to everyone else involved. And many people’s loss becomes our gain. 

The second shadow is that we have subconscious motive to put the person we care about at odds with anything they deeply care about. No matter what we might be telling ourselves (or them), we get a sense of self-esteem and a sense of our own value and we feel loved when we put them in situations where they have to choose between us (and our best interests) and something or someone else that they deeply care about. Because of this, we are constantly putting them into lose-lose scenarios to test where we stack up in terms of priority relative to all the things in their life. For example, a man plays up getting sick in order to see whether his career driven girlfriend will drop everything to take care of him or not. Or a woman puts up a boundary around her boyfriend spending time with his best friend, who happens to be another woman, in order to see whether he will choose her or his best friend. And this not only harms everyone else involved, it sets us up to ultimately be resented. So, by setting up situations in order to be the one who is chosen, we sabotage the wellbeing of our own relationships long term.

The third shadow is that we are perpetuating the very experience that we, ourselves suffered from. In order for us to feel good, we have to be the one who is ‘chosen’. In order for us to be chosen, someone must not be chosen. They must suffer the same fate that we suffered as a child. We are setting them up to feel how we felt and suffer how we suffered. This not only keeps the chain of pain going, it has serious karmic implications.

The fifth shadow is that instead of being an agent for cohesiveness, togetherness and harmony. And instead of strengthening the relationships between people around us, we subconsciously divide, weaken and destroy the relationships around us for the sake of our own wellbeing, our own self-esteem and our own personal needs. For example, a person could start dating someone with a child. Instead of enabling the relationship between them and their child, or leaving the relationship if they see that they can’t do so, this person might start to be threatened by the relationship and start to create conflicts between their own needs and the needs of the child. This puts their boyfriend or girlfriend in the position to have to choose between them or their own child. 

The sixth shadow is that we aren’t really loving the other person when we are doing this. We are using them to validate our own self estimation. If we love someone, we don’t want to cause them pain. We don’t want them to have to choose between two things they really care about. Or to make them sacrifice something they need and want for our sake. This is one reason why when it comes to love, compatibility matters so much. Compatibility makes it so a person doesn’t find themselves in these ‘choose me or that thing’ scenarios. To learn more about this, watch my video titled: Incompatibility, A Harsh Reality in Relationships

The reality is, with this pattern, while we are being totally unloving to the other person, on the flip side we believe that their willingness to be in pain for our sake is love. So, there is an association with suffering and love inherent in this dynamic. For example, we may feel loved if we put a friend or a family member in the position to choose something that is in our own best interests or something that is in the best interests of their life purpose/career… and they choose whatever is in our best interests. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: The ‘Suffer So I Can Feel Loved’ Relationship Dynamic.

Your life experience may have led you to believe that you are never enough. That you need to prove that you have value and therefore deserve to be someone’s #1 through being wanted, needed, desired, seen as special and thus chosen. If you have this desire, you need to do two things. This first thing is to go back and resolve the trauma that caused this need to be chosen. The pain of not being chosen. You can do this by using The Completion Process. To learn about how to do this process, you can pick up a copy of my book titled: The Completion Process or visit and find a practitioner to guide you through it. 

The second thing you need to do, is to go for it consciously. If you want to be prioritized, go directly for being prioritized, but in a compatible situation. Consciously choose against the urge to enter into a repeat the past in order to try to bring about a different outcome. Instead, enter into a totally different scenario. For example, decide whether it is more important for you to try to get someone unavailable to be available for you or whether it is more important to have the best chance at availability, which means going for a person who is actually available. If it is more important to have someone available, then notice all the red flags that someone is not available and will not prioritize you. And don’t enter into that situation. Enter into the relationship where it is obvious that the person will prioritize you. 

Notice when you are in this pattern. Notice that you are actually the one in the power position. You are probably telling yourself that the person with the power is the one who has the power to choose you or the other person/thing. When the reality is, you have the power to be able to put them in that position or not in the first place. Notice the emotional payoff you are getting, under any surface guilt that you may feel. Many people with this pattern say things like “I don’t want him or her to have to choose.” But really, deep down they do get something out of them choosing. Then, based off of seeing that you are in this dynamic, make a conscious choice about what to do about it. Do you want to go through with it or not? Become aware of the potential consequences on all people involved regarding any choice you might make. 

This ‘choose me’ dynamic is to blame for so much of the pain that we suffer in relationships today. Becoming aware of it, noticing it in action and putting a conscious stop to it, is our way out of the pain. To love someone is to do our best to never put them in a position to choose between two things they deeply care about. And the best way to ensure that we won’t do this is to put ourselves into relationship arrangements that are truly compatible to our needs. And at the end of the day, if you recognize this pattern within yourself, you have to ask yourself, what price am I willing to pay, and to make others pay, for the sake of my own self-esteem?


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