Do you ever feel that you no longer have the power for the endless debates with your partner, disappointment in relationships, loss of confidence or other unpleasant feelings? Do you experience repeating topics in your relationships? Let us look a little closer at the recurring themes and feelings in relationships. Perhaps this perspective will help you understand your past as well as current relationships.
Why is it that some themes in relationships constantly repeat? I believe that what repeats in our life can usually not be regarded as a coincidence, and most people's stories to prove it.
What is the reason?
The cause of repeated relational issues and feelings can often be found in the relationships that formed us in our early age.
Specifically our early family relationships shaped our trust in people of the opposite sex and taught us how a romantic relationship looks like. There we have also acquired first answers to what relationships entail and what we can expect from them.
Subconsciously we tend to repeat patterns learned from our childhood. Sometimes we try to avoid at all costs what we disliked in our childhood and put considerable energy into that. But if we act mainly based on experiences from previous relationships how much space do we give to our current relationship really? Do we respond to our existing partner or to what we have learnt about relationships even before we met our current partner?
Our primary family can often negatively impact our first partner experience. Many people have for example great difficulty coping with a break-up years after it - especially with the disappointment or injustice that accompanied the breakup.
All previous relationships and events can affect us therefore in future relationships. It's good to learn from the experience, but not if our past experiences entirely determine new relationships. We then do not react to our current relationship or partner but we live in constant repetition of past feelings, which often belong to someone else. We then enter a relationship with suspicion, caution and are subconsciously waiting for the next disappointment. The principle can also work reverse, where some people have a contrary tendency to idealize their partners. After "sobering", which takes them too long (after all, everyone knew it already long time ago ...), often a painful clash with reality awaits them.
The biggest problem is that we too often do not understand why we experience similar feelings and situations in relationships. Once we understand this, only then it is possible to see the current partner in reality (or for example why we are alone and are afraid of relationships). We can give him a chance without our expectations bias that we create based on experience from previous relationships. Rummaging through the jungle of relationships is a challenge often requiring assistance from a psychotherapist. Here, I would like to offer you, however, the opportunity to look at a few themes already now.
How to cut the string of negative feelings in relation to cut?
STEP 1: Stop – Inventory of relations
A lot of people are rushing from one relationship to another. This leaves no space for reflection on what had just happened. Therefore, the first recommendation is: stop for a moment. Find the time for yourself, undisturbed by the flashing phone or computer monitor, and try to look back on your relationships and the learning arising from them.
-what did previous relationships bring you
-what did you miss in previous relationships
- what were the reasons for an end
- try to find all repeating patterns
(Try to write down everything - it is never too late to start writing a diary! How many times have you wanted to start?).
STEP 2: Engrained "truths"
After an inventory of relationships, it is good to look at the prejudices and beliefs that you take with you to a new relationship. These are phrases like: "In our family, it will never ...!", "Men / Women are ....!", "What eventually happens is always..."
-How do for example view relational conflicts?
-how much do you trust your partner?
-Do these expectations somehow appear in your current relationship? If so, how?
These are all issues that are affecting (or will affect) your relationship, regardless of who your partner is. So watch out for them! To ensure that these expectations do not stand in your way and accompany your relationship from the beginning…
STEP 3: How does an ideal relationship look like?
Try to think about:
-How do you imagine the ideal relationship?
-What role do you play in it and what role does your partner fulfill?
-How would you like to feel in a relationship, what do you bring into it (strengths and weaknesses)
- What do you expect from your partner?
People who in their original families did not experience functioning and happy parents tend to have troubles imagine how such a relationship actually should look like. Often it seems unrealistic, idealistic - or they have only a vague vision of what role they want to hold in a relationship.
Many people have a problem with valuing themselves (low self-esteem). Low self-esteem often negatively affects the choice of a partner and the relationship as such. You can read more here: Confidence.
STEP 4: Dreams versus reality - what went wrong?
Now, with this perspective, look at your past (or current) relationship and try to analyze yourself and why you think your relationship is so far from your ideal relationship.
-what don’t you get in a relationship, what are you was lacking?
-What was your role in the relationship compared with the ideal and why?
- Why were you in such a relationship? What did it bring?
If you perceive a mistake in choice of a partner, try to think about the REASONS why you chose him or her. What did he or she bring you in the beginning? What did this partner bring into your life? Is that not something you should look for in yourself and not in your partner?
These are quite challenging questions and it is possible that to find the answer, you need to give yourself more time or seek someone’s help. Try to avoid too rapid evaluations and conclusions. Very often the most truthful answers are not the fastest.
Do not hastily throw your current relationship away! You can work on your relationship and yourself anytime, despite on the motivations that led to you choosing your partner. If you solve your problems by running away from your relationship without thinking thoroughly about it, it is very likely that a similar problem arises in another relationship.
If the ‘mistake’ was elsewhere than in your partner choice, try to ask yourself again how it happened, what did not work and what could be done differently next time.
Step 5: Change is a long journey. Do not rush and do not give up!
On the basis of prior examination try to define clearly and realistically what would you want and need to change. What are the prejudices with which you enter relationships and how could they affect your relationship or choice of a partner? Try also to formulate what you need to be able to change, and who can help you with it.
The more you understand your own motivations and choices, the more will you live in the present relationship, unloaded by difficult life history. If you have some questions, or you feel that you support in this process, you can contact us.
But be careful!
Remember: relationship always includes two people! You can work on yourself but it is good not to forget the other, who also has their needs, experiences and a lot of positive and negative qualities. Once you understand yourself, try to understand the other ... Then it can work - but both must want to make the relationship work!
Tereza Baltag, psychologist, psychotherapist