Posts Tagged ‘Intimate relationship’

Are You Stuck in an Unhealthy Relationship Pattern? Part One

hamster on a wheelAre you stuck in an unhealthy relationship pattern? Do you repeat the same relationship choices and behaviors that ultimately lead to the same unhappy conclusion: conflict, unmet needs, disappointment and loneliness?

If so, the first thing you need to do in order to break your unhealthy relationship pattern is to consider the kind of romantic partner you typically choose. Do you have a habit of choosing women or men who are:

  • Unavailable
  • Unfaithful
  • Emotionally abusive
  • Physically abusive
  • Totally self-centered
  • Still involved in other relationships
  • Too dependent
  • Jealous or controlling
  • Unable to commit
  • Unable to express and receive love

Do you choose women or men who:

  • Have substance abuse problems
  • Have a lot of emotional problems
  • Get serious too quickly
  • Run hot and cold

Logically, you probably know that you won’t be able to have a loving and enduring relationship with the type of woman or man you’re usually attracted to; while your emotional reasoning and the “thrill of the familiar” pulls you toward the same type of relationship time and again.

Is it possible that you’re stuck in a dead end relationship pattern with the same type of person because you’re recreating earlier relationships from childhood or adolescence? Until you gain awareness regarding your choice of adult romantic partners, you’ll tend to be attracted to a certain kind of person because the way you interact with them and the way they treat you feels familiar, especially if it makes you feel bad.

Why would anyone voluntarily choose to feel bad? Seems crazy, right? But that’s exactly what many of us do; we choose to pursue and have relationships with women and men who make us feel bad. In a way it is crazy, but there’s a kind of warped logic to it.

These people are familiar due to your early childhood and adolescent relationship experiences. Because it’s what you know, you don’t realize that there are other ways to be in a relationship and  other kinds of people who are open to relationships and will value you rather than shut you out, reject you, or, in extreme cases, demean and abuse you.

When you’re stuck in an unhealthy relationship pattern, it’s usually because you’re trying to get a different outcome in your adult relationships than you had with your family and other people who hurt you or didn’t meet your needs often enough when you were a kid. This is why you choose people who are no more capable of meeting your needs and loving you the way you want to be loved than your parents, family, or your first intimate relationship partners were.

Choosing the same kind of person, even when it’s self-destructive, protects you from the realization that perhaps you didn’t have the best parents in the world or that they treated you in ways that weren’t always loving, damaged your sense of worth and affected your ability to give and receive love. It confirms your faulty relationship beliefs by setting you up for the same bad relationship result. It also keeps you from facing residual painful memories and hurt feelings that may be lingering from childhood. Consequently, your faulty beliefs, self-doubts and fears about relationships that lead you to make choices and behave in ways that support your beliefs and fears, which perpetuates the unhealthy pattern.

Next week, I’ll post the second part of this series in which I’ll explain how self-doubt and fears contribute to unhealthy relationship patterns.


Dr Tara J Palmatier_Shrink4Men_02Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries.

Say Goodbye to CrazyWant to Say Goodbye to Crazy? Buy it HERE.

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.

Related content:

Photo credit:

hamster on a wheel by Walala Poncho on flickr.