Are You Stuck in an Unhealthy Relationship Pattern? Part Two
This is part two of Are You Stuck in an Unhealthy Relationship Pattern? The last post examined your usual choice of romantic partner, which stems from early childhood relationship experiences and the faulty belief system you learned about relationships as a result.
Ultimately, the self-doubts and self-defeating beliefs you have about yourself and relationships are obstacles to having the kind of relationship your rational mind wants. Whether you’re aware of them or not, they shape the relationship choices you make. For example, do you believe that:
- You have to work hard to earn someone’s love?
- You have to prove that you’re “good enough” for someone to love you?
- You must be perfect to deserve someone’s love?
- You have to go along with, like, or agree with everything your partner likes or wants?
- You need to ignore or hide your needs and feelings in order to meet all of your partner’s needs?
- Your partner should “magically” know or intuit how you’re feeling and what you want without having to tell him or her?
- Your partner should be able to meet all your needs?
- Your partner should enjoy doing all the things you do and like all of the same people you like?
- Your partner should prove he or she cares by spending money on you and paying for trips, dinners and gifts?
Whenever we make statements that use the words should, always, must, never, or have to it usually means we’re placing unreasonably high expectations on others and ourselves. This usually leads to anger, disappointment, hurt and frustration, which makes it difficult to have good relationships.
A faulty relationship belief system, which is tied to our fears and self-doubts in a self-reinforcing loop, perpetuate our poor relationship choices. For example, do you worry that:
- You’re unlovable?
- No one would love you if they really knew you?
- You’ll eventually be rejected?
- You don’t deserve love?
- You’re cursed?
- You’re not attractive enough?
- You’re not thin enough?
- You’re not smart enough?
- You don’t make enough money?
- You’re boring?
- There’s something wrong with you?
- You don’t deserve respect?
It’s hard to feel good about yourself and have confidence in your ability to be an attractive partner to others with this kind of self-defeating garbage floating around in your head. We develop our beliefs and fears about relationships from observing our parents’ or caretakers’ relationships as children and by how they treated us. In many cases, they weren’t ideal relationship role models. These beliefs cause us to choose people who treat us in ways that make us feel bad, which reinforces these negative feelings and doubts.
It becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy that can make us believe that we’re doomed to be alone or unhappy in relationships. As a result, many of us learned unhealthy relationship beliefs as children that still control our behavior to this day. An effective way to counter these faulty beliefs and fears is to challenge and reality test them to see if they’re true. Otherwise, you’re allowing what happened to you “way back when” to control your “here and now.” You don’t have to allow your adult life and the course of your adult relationships be defined by what happened to you as a child or teen.
You can take control of your life now. You don’t have to be dependent on the approval of others who aren’t likely to give it to you. You can let go of your old beliefs and adopt new ones. In some ways, it’s like flipping on a light switch in your mind. When you do this, you may see some things from the past that you’d rather not deal with, but they will continue to control you and lead you to make poor relationship choices until you do.
Next week, I’ll post part three in this series. It will focus on problematic relationship behaviors and coping strategies that tend to do more harm than good and contribute to staying stuck in an unhealthy relationship pattern.
by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Private Consultation and Coaching
I provide confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. My practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit Services and Products for professional inquiries.
If you find the information I provide free of charge helpful and valuable here on Shrink4Men, please consider making a donation via PayPal to help me maintain the site.
- Are You Stuck in an Unhealthy Relationship Pattern? Part One
- Men Have Emotions, But Women Don’t Listen
- Are You My Soul Mate? Defining the One
- 12 Signs You Should Break Up with your Boyfriend or Girlfriend or Spouse
- Why We Stay in Bad Relationships
- Ending a Painful Relationship and Starting Over
- How to Make Changes in your Relationship and Life
- 3 Dating Tips for Having a Healthy and Successful Relationships
- The Secret to Happy, Long Lasting Relationships
- How to Have a Healthy Relationship After Being With an Emotionally Abusive, Borderline or Narcissistic Woman
Man on hamster wheel on MarkYoungTrainingSystems.