Most of what we learn in life isn’t in a classroom. Instead, we learn the subtle ways of being we pick up from our parents, friends, and earliest relationships. That’s why the child of a parent who practised spanking is morel likely to spank her children, even when studies show the practice is damaging. It’s why divorce is more common among children whose parents were divorced, and children of parents who read are more likely to love reading themselves. We do what we see, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of destructive relationship patterns.
These patterns help explain why you keep dating the same person in a different body, or why the same conflicts seem to reappear continually in all of your relationships. You may know there’s something wrong, but not recognise the pattern that’s causing it. Or perhaps you know there’s a pattern—getting attached too quickly, spending too much on presents, or needing too much reassurance—but you have no idea how to break free. Here’s how to end the destructive relationship cycle once and for all.
Look at Your Own Behaviour
No one wants to believe they’re at fault for the problems in their life, but the truth is you have a lot of power over how your life and relationships go. Resolve to look for your own behaviour, not that of your partner, to uncover unhealthy patterns. You may find that specific actions you take trigger specific actions in your partners and that if you can break your own unhealthy patterns, you’ll also break your partner’s unhealthy patterns.
Know That Destructive Behaviour Can Feel Good
Perhaps one of the most exasperating things about destructive behaviour is that it feels good in the moment. The reason for this is simple: the patterns to which we are accustomed feel comfortable and safe. For example, if you grew up in a house where people frequently yelled at one another, you might feel totally justified screaming at your boyfriend or insulting someone on Facebook. You might even feel righteous for doing so. But ask yourself: is this a behaviour that works in the long-term? If it’s not and it feels good, you may have discovered one of the life’s destructive patterns.
Ask for Feedback From Someone You Trust
Destructive relationship patterns are often obvious to the people who love you the most. Your best friend probably knows that you always pick unavailable partners, or that you’re too eager for a commitment, but may be afraid to tell you so. If you’re truly hoping to end a cycle of unhealthy relationship choices, ask someone you trust if they’ve noticed any patterns. Then listen to them without getting angry.
Identifying unhealthy relationship patterns is just the beginning. Once you know how these patterns affect you, you may be able to reverse them on your own—particularly if you take proactive steps, such as listing the reasons you want to abandon unhealthy behaviours, or meditating daily on healthier practices. But sometimes, destructive behaviours are so ingrained in our psyches that they are difficult to eliminate on their own. This is where counselling can help. Even if your partner does not come with you, Three Seas can make a major difference in your relationships by helping you identify and reverse unhealthy patterns.
It can be painful to admit that you have a history of unhealthy choices, but recognising these choices gives you significant power over your life, and that can serve as a major source of hope and healing.