The Parent – Partner Mirror: How to Escape

Many people have a hard time accepting the idea that they have searched for partners who resembled their caretakers.

On a conscious level, they were looking for people with only positive traits—people who were, among other things, kind, loving, good-looking, intelligent, and creative. No matter what their conscious intentions, most people are attracted to mates who have their caretakers’ positive and negative traits, and typically the negative traits are more influential.

Why do negative traits have such an appeal? Find out here, and with this information you can make a significant shift in your life!

It is not your logical, orderly new brain that usually makes the choice, but your time-locked, myopic old brain. And what your old brain was trying to do was re-create the conditions of your upbringing, in order to correct them.

Find out what patterns you are repeating with your partner.

1. Take out a blank piece of paper and draw a large circle, leaving about three inches below the circle. Divide the circle in half with a horizontal line. Put a capital “B” above the line on the left side of the circle, and a capital letter “A” below the line on the left side of the circle.

2. On the top half, next to the “B,” list all of the positive character traits of your mother, father, and any other people who influenced you strongly when you were young. Lump all the positive traits of all these people together. (Don’t bother to group them according to individuals.) List these traits as you recall them from childhood. Do not describe your caretakers as they are today. Describe them with simple adjectives or phrases like the following: “kind,” “warm,” “intelligent,” “religious,” “patient,” “creative,” “always there,” “enthusiastic,” “reliable,” etc.

3. On the bottom half, next to the “A,” list of the negative traits of these key people. Once again, lump all the traits together.

This list of positive and negative traits is your “imago.” “Imago” basically means ‘image,’ so your imago is the image you hold of a suitable partner.

4. Circle the positive and negative traits that seem to affect you most.

Copyright (c) Getting the Love You Want: A Guide For Couples, by Harville Hendrix (Owl Books reprint edition 2001).
Adapted from Getting the Love You Want: A Guide For Couples, by Harville Hendrix (Owl Books reprint edition 2001). Experience Harville Hendrix at Omega Institute 9/30-10/02. (


Paula Lopes
Paula Lopes4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Melissah Chadwick
Melissah C6 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

Good exercise and very insightful. Thanks.

Bon L.
Bon L7 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Allison I.
Allison I7 years ago

I cannot even begin to explain how helpful this post is. Thanks!

Nadia Ann
Past Member 8 years ago

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