“The giving of love is an education in itself.” – Eleanor Roosevelt. We all have patterns in relationships what types of partners we choose at different points in . Do you jump from one painful, unhealthy relationship to another? So did I, and this is what helped me break the cycle and become far happier. Do you have a type? A pattern of partners that maybe you didn't even realize you had? A friend of mine will only go out with tall, slightly-muscular guys with.
This time we will be loyal. This time… Ah, if it only were so simple.
Relationship Patterns: What We Repeat Is What We Can’t Defeat (Part 1)
Why does this happen? How did it come to be? Is there some other way to live and love with more wisdom? Everyone from researchers of infants and neuroscience to psychoanalysts and anthropologists have devoted themselves to understanding how we develop our selves in relation to others.
There are different theories and some of the terminology is different, but generally, scholars of relational patterns agree on the same principles. All of these factors and more will influence our personality and relationships in some way. Can you imagine how different your life would be if you were born on the opposite side of the earth 1, years ago?
Some researchers say we also come biologically pre-wired in ways that will influence our temperament — the core part of our personality.
For example, children whose mothers had difficulty coping with anxiety and depression before and during their pregnancy may biologically predispose their offspring to similar challenges in dealing effectively with emotions.
Basically, some combination of environmental and biological factors are already preparing our personality. Then you were born.
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The early years of life are particularly critical. When you cried at night, did someone come? When you were hungry, were you fed?
How responsive were your caretakers to your needs? When you started to crawl and explore your surroundings, were your parents attuned to your needs? When you were learning to use the bathroom for yourself, were your parents patient?
Did they demand perfection? When you gained more independence and looked back to see if your parents were still there, were they? When you inevitably showed you were an imperfect human being, had your own feelings and needs, and tried to carve your own path, were you still accepted and loved?
This is unconscious, completely out of our awareness and out of our control. If this was a particularly distressing experience, you may have developed some mistrust of how well others can respond to your needs. Being fed too soon could have lead you to feeling like others are intrusive and put their needs before your own.
Your mother might have felt she was standing by close enough when you were beginning to crawl and explore the world on your own, but your impression of the situation when you turned back and saw her looking away left you feeling scared. This experience, especially when felt repeatedly over time, can make its way into your intimate relationships as you get older. Because our minds are not yet capable of abstract reasoning at such an early age, unconscious meanings of relationships are attached to our emotions and bodily sensations without much or any thought at all.
This suggests that certain parts of how we experience our selves and others are rooted in a sensitive period of life that we may have no memory of at all, and yet these experiences make up the foundation for who we become and how we relate to others.
Psychoanalysts often use the image of an iceberg to demonstrate just how much of our mind is outside of our awareness. You only see a very small part of the iceberg above the surface, but beneath is a mass of ice unknown to our eyes.
Some researchers look to attachment theory to categorize how we enact relationship patterns. Attachment theory is an increasingly popular body of knowledge being used today in the self-help industry to explore how we behave in relationships. Attachment theory grew out of the research of Mary Ainsworth and a theorist named John Bowlby.
Together, their work described how infant-mother relationships determine relationship style. According to attachment theory, a person can have a secure attachment style or insecure attachment style. Notice any common themes or patterns that emerge regarding these first impressions. Did they generally turn out to be somewhat accurate as you got to know the person better?
Our initial attraction to another person says a great deal about ourselves as well. Do you find yourself generally attracted to physical qualities, personality traits, or common factors that you share? As you reflect upon what first attracted you to your past partners, take a moment to notice how this quality manifests itself or not within you. Do you tend to be attracted to others who have strengths that you do not believe you have yourself?
Or do you find yourself attracted to others that remind you of yourself in some way? It is part of adopting a mature and realistic stance on relationships to recognize that giddy euphoric love is not something you can or perhaps, even should come to expect day in and day out of your relationship. What do these times all have in common or not? What is the significance or deeper meaning of those times?
The things that we need and want in life change as we grow and the years pass. It is quite likely that if you were to meet one of your past boyfriends or girlfriends today, you would never consider having a relationship with them and vice versa! The idea is to recognize the ways in which we grow and change and be honest with ourselves about qualities that we truly need and want from others.
It is quite possible that the very thing s you disliked about past partners is precisely what you are seeking in a current partner. For example, maybe you used to be afraid of stability and moved away from potential partners who tried to offer this to you, yet who you are today feels peaceful and happy with stability.
Notice how your own likes and dislikes have changed over time and how they shape your current relationship wants and needs. In contrast, if you experience the best parts of relationships as being the times when you both feel truly committed to one another, then it is possible that these times may have lasted much longer.
Again, the idea is simply to notice any potential patterns and be honest with yourself about what those patterns may mean.
Relationship Patterns: What We Repeat Is What We Can’t Defeat (Part 1) – PAUL J. LETENDRE, LMHC
Do you find yourself to always be the one who gets left behind or the one who typically ends relationships? Ask yourself if you see any patterns here and if you feel comfortable with those patterns continuing.
Do you notice a pattern to leave relationships when you begin to feel yourself becoming vulnerable, when things feel too committed, or when you feel restless? Notice what themes emerge from how your past relationships have ended and recognize that if you dislike those patterns, you can begin to take steps in this present moment to prevent them from happening in the future.
Ask yourself honestly if you feel that your past relationships are just that… in the past. As you reflect upon those relationships, do you feel that you have a clear sense of how they began, progressed, and ended, or do you feel an uneasy sense of lack of closure or resolution? It is worth considering that most relationships end for good reasons and that opening up or renewing relationships with past partners is often a risky or ill-fated decision although it can work for some people.