Have you found yourself in a brand-new relationship and felt like “been there, done that?”
You think you have found a great new partner, then it turns out they are essentially the same old partner but with a different name, face and job.
You wonder how this happened as you were determined not to get involved with another person who was controlling, abusive, depressed, angry or addicted to something.
If this is your experience, I can guarantee something is amiss. And by amiss I don’t mean that you are somehow unlovable, undesirable or not capable of finding a true love.
Instead, you are making the same mistake again and again due to what psychologists call distorted thought patterns or beliefs that have ingrained themselves in your brain.
You are operating on old beliefs and messages that are not serving you. You are not where you want to be in terms of relationships.
Your job is to figure out these patterns, where they came from and then rid yourself of them permanently.
Clients have sometimes had concerns that this meant they were losing part of themselves or their personality, but you are not losing part of your personality, you are eliminating things that aren’t working very well. Think of it as eliminating a bone spur, it’s part of you but it’s not doing you any good.
Although today’s topic is related to relationships you will find that this old baggage is usually to blame for most bad choices we make or for not making choices at all and remaining stuck and unhappy in many areas of our lives.
Here are a few of the typical dysfunctional type relationships that result from learned thought patterns.
- Caretaking– Giving too much of yourself in order to control. You believe you won’t be loved otherwise. Keeping control means keeping whoever in your life. Can also apply to romantic partners, children or friends.
- Codependent– Your partner is dependent on something and you are dependent on the fact that they are dependent on it. I know this can sound confusing. Think of the partner that enables the alcoholic, that is the classic example. You believe that as long as they are alcoholic and you take care of things that they will keep you around. Similar to caretaking but usually pertains to romantic relationships.
- White Knight– You may be in a mess of some sort and the White Knight comes along and rescues you. They may offer money and stability and anything that is not chaotic will be appealing to you. However, the White Knight usually has his motives as well and they are usually about control. He fixes things and therefore has control. When you are no longer a mess you will resent this.
- Choosing someone who is not your equal– This dynamic happens when you are afraid of losing someone who you consider great and are convinced that it is inevitable. Due to faulty attachment or trust issues, you have your crystal ball out and see impending doom in all relationships. You therefore choose someone who is not that great as it doesn’t hurt as much when they leave. You can tell yourself, “They weren’t that great anyway, no real loss.”
You can see why these relationship styles lead to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Often you don’t realize you have done the same thing until it’s too late. Recognizing the warning signs and avoiding these patterns is the key. The ability to do this starts with understanding why you think and choose like you do.
The fortunate thing is that this is not that hard to learn. It is a bit more than can be learned from a single blog post as it takes a bit of understanding and practice. No matter how old you are or how many bad relationships you have been in, you can learn to avoid these dysfunctional pitfalls. The skills that are necessary to avoid relationship disasters are also helpful in other life arenas. You really can build a better life!