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Help! I Keep Repeating the Same Negative Patterns in Relationships


It’s happened again!  You swore you’d never hitch up with someone controlling, but now that ‘free spirit’ who charmed your socks off is checking up on you 24/7.  Or maybe you’re fed up with put downs and now the sweetie you chose for being so supportive is getting in digs at every turn.  Why does it happen?  And will you ever break free?





Sit down with a notebook and think deeply about your relationships.  How did they start?  What sort of an emotional state were you in when you committed?  What sort of an ‘image’ did your lover portray?  Did that change – if so, when and how did it happen?  And what exactly is it that repeats itself?  For instance, it may be that you always end up being abused in some way.  Or perhaps you find yourself in the role of care-taker, when you long to be the one who’s looked-after.  Remember that the negative pattern can pan out in several ways – for instance, after living with someone who beat you up you may have consciously chosen a gentle person, only to find they abuse you mentally.  Or maybe after playing ‘nurse’ you’ve gone for a successful, confident type, but it turns out they’re so emotionally vulnerable you’re supporting them at every turn.  If it’s hard to see clearly, ask your friends to be frank with you.  They will often be vividly aware of what’s going on.



It may be boring to realize that your childhood experiences are behind the patterns you repeat, but the truth is that is mostly the case.  The links may not be obvious.  For instance you may be determined not to repeat the role of your doormat parent, so you go the other way, and fall into the habit of wrecking your relationships because you can’t seem to cope with intimacy and commitment.  Siblings don’t always help you pinpoint the dynamic, because people react in different ways, so it’s up to you to work out what affected you, and how.  This can be quite a challenge, for you may have to face the fact that a parent you love has more faults than you have allowed yourself to see, but it’s important that you do see, or you won’t be able to see yourself.  You aren’t being disloyal, you’re just working on your life. 




If something hurt you in the past, you may desperately want to prove to yourself that things are different now.  For instance, if you had a loving father that repeatedly made promises he didn’t keep, you fall for the smooth-tongued bastard who stands you up.  Deep inside you’re hoping to break that pattern – you want that ‘adored father’ AKA fab new squeeze, to prove to you that you are loved and valued.  Get it?  The new partner is a kind of stand-in for dad.  He needs to be as much like Dad as possible, but you want him to behave differently.  But what’s overwhelmingly likely to happen is that he’s like dad on every level, and the same thing happens again.  So you find another charmer…and so it goes on.  There are loads of ways this can happen, but underneath it’s the same – trying to put right the past and ending up repeating it.  Grrr!



It may seem like breaking your patterns involves a lot of confusing self-analysis, but you can keep it simple.  Yes, counseling will help you see things clearly, but for now concentrate on the following:

•    Your self esteem – how good is it?  Work on feeling positive about yourself, because when you believe you’re truly worthwhile you don’t put up with the crap for very long.

•    Be powerful.  This means having a good grip on the basis of your life – money, security, friends etc.  if you aren’t totally dependent on anyone for something fundamental, you are more free to make choices.

•    Be loving – especially to yourself.  Love is a flow of good emotion, it certainly isn’t about being a victim.  Think warm, positive, caring, empathic and always remember (this can’t be repeated too much!) love yourself first.

•    If you have trouble committing, what are you running from, and why?  Maybe there is nothing to fear after all.

•    Take your time.  Okay, you know you’ve got a ‘pattern’ but it’s sooo easy to kid yourself when you’re loved up.  You might not be able to spot the pattern re-appearing but you can at least give yourself a chance.  If you’re in a mad dash to move in together, hear those warning bells – ‘patterns’ often trigger that urgent feeling, so don’t kid yourself it’s all sublime passion!  If you hang on a bit before taking any permanent steps, you’ll do yourself a massive favour.

•    Oh no, it looks like it’s happened again!  Then you need someone to talk to.  Our expert readers at The Circle can help you unravel your life and find a clear way forward.  Put in a call today and feel up-lifted and clear-headed!

PUBLISHED: 17 November 2014


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