Do you want to have fulfilling relationships with friends?
Do you want to get along more easily with work colleagues?
Do you want to connect with more people?
You care. And yet sometimes it doesn't seem like people know that. You don't want to feel alone and isolated but that's how you end up feeling a little too often. You don't understand how it seems to easy for some to make friends and have great relationships and so hard for you. Do they know something you don't or are they simply born that way?
It may be easier for some to forge new relationships than for others. Perhaps they are less shy and more extroverted. However this does not predict whether those relationships will last long term or whether they would be truly satisfying to those involved. The quality of your relationships in the long run is more important than their quantity. And the quality of a relationship is measured by the quality of the connection you have together.
A true connection with someone is a vital experience that you feel in your whole being. Cultivating connection takes skill, and skills take time effort and commitment to develop. Let's have a look at what gets in the way of true connection and what enhances it.
Reasons people end up in dysfunctional relationships
In the last article we looked at the main dysfunctional relationship patterns people get into:
Idealizing the external
Chasing the emotionally unavailable
Rescuing and fixing
Now let’s have a look at why do we repeat these patterns
REASON #1 FEAR
You are afraid of Having a Good Relationship
You may think why would I be afraid of having a good relationship? It makes sense that I would be avoiding a bad one but a good one? The answer is that openness and joy, actually make us feel more vulnerable than we may feel it is safe to be. Positive emotions potentially expose you to rejection and pain which can be a terrifying prospect especially if you’ve experienced heartbreak before. So in a good relationship, you may feel terrified and anxious and therefore avoid it at all costs.
You are scared of Intimacy
Intimacy can be defined as a desire to know and care for the another in a way that is mutual as well as the ability to be vulnerable and trust one another. If you are stuck in the same relationship patterns you may have learned to be pretty independent and self-sufficient as a result of the fact that you feel nobody else will care for you or meet your needs. Perhaps somebody badly betrayed you or something hurtful struck you down and now you cannot trust, as you are scared you may not survive another blow.
Denial is a defense mechanism that your mind has produced to defend you from the possible threat of facing something that could destroy you. If something is so upsetting that it threatens to overwhelm or destroy you then your mind will push it away and repress it. When you are in denial you are not in touch with your need for intimacy (to be close and to trust others). You may hardly ever have had your needs met so you don’t even remember you have them. If somebody asked you what you were looking for in a partner you may answer simplistically. You may be stuck in a fantasy. Or you may be focussed on a checklist of items that have nothing to do with your emotional needs. You cannot even imagine what it would be like to be treated well or to be happy in a relationship.
You are in denial of anger
When you are in denial of old feelings you may not be aware that you are in fact angry and your anger may have turned in on yourself.
You are in denial of sadness
You could be unaware of a deep old sadness. It could be that the original experience that caused you to be wounded has happened so long ago that you can’t even remember it. Or it could be that the experience is too painful to be recalled. The sadness you feel now is the old sadness revisited.
You are in denial of your own responsibility
This is when you don’t want to look at yourself and you avoid taking any responsibility for what went wrong in your past relationship/s and instead blame your partner or others. By refusing to ask what you could have done differently and not learning the lesson you are bound to repeat similar mistakes in the future.
REASON #3 IMPULSIVE COPING STYLE
You have a low tolerance for discomfort
If you are impulsive you will just jump into a relationship without thinking much of the consequences in advance. You may feel uncomfortable with feeling bored or lonely, sad or angry and you just want to jump into action. Alternatively, you may be afraid of thinking too much of the situation if you find something wrong and then you have to deal with the inevitable disappointment. This way you may end up with similar kind of partners because you have not taken the time to go slow and properly vet your potential partner.
You are drawn to drama
You tend to get into relationships marked by emotional highs and lows. You may come from a home where there was a high of emotion or conflict. You may be afraid that a good relationship equals too much stability and that means boredom and therefore emotional death. You may feel addictively drawn to relationships that you know are not good for you and that you know will not work. If you already use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or you use other addictive behaviors to cope with life in general your dependency in relationships may be just another way that your impulsive coping style gets manifested.
Reason #4:DISTORTED BELIEFS
Sometimes it is our deeply held beliefs – which are the foundation for all behavior – that are holding you back.
You have unrealistic expectations
Do you believe that a relationship will permanently change the way you feel, so you’ll finally be happy? Do you believe that if only you had a relationship you would automatically :
have someone who will be there no matter what
you’ll finally have a gratifying sex life
you’ll be swept away from the mundane realities of everyday life
If so, you are in for a fall! Inevitably you will realize this relationship, like the one before, cannot meet these expectations. You are attempting to use the other rather than relating to them and you are trying to get something so unrealistic from a relationship that you end up disappointed .
You have Negative Core Beliefs
If you have deeply negative core beliefs about yourself you may be interfering with your ability to find and maintain a long-term, positive relationship.
Do you believe you are unlovable?
Do you believe you are helpless?
Do you believe a combination of the two?
You are rigid
You restrict yourself to a narrow selection of partners and fail to see the big picture. You may get caught up in non-important details, and not see how a partner may be good for you just because they don’t fit it with your rigid idea of the requirements they should meet.
You are trying to get over a previous trauma by putting yourself through a new one.
If you have previously experienced a trauma you may try to gain some mastery over the original traumatic event by putting yourself in similar traumatic situations now and hoping to react differently.
Trauma can be anything you perceive as traumatic, regardless of whether others would find it traumatic.
So, what do you think are your triggers for repeating the same old patterns in your relationships ?
Which ones of these reasons struck a chord ? If you think none do, have another look at the denial section !
What in your past could have set the stage for this ?
And finally : Do you believe you can truly change the underlying causes of your behaviour? This is essential if you want to change . In the next article we will deal with how to practically change these patterns.
This article was inspired by the book : Dr Seth Love Prescription. Overcome Repeated Relationship Patterns by Seth Meyers.
Do you keep going out with the same kind of man / woman ? Do you feel stuck in a rut where you keep on repeating the same mistakes over and over again and end up broken-hearted ? Find out what type of “relationship repeater” you are.
You are drawn to partners with a particular physical type, appearance, professional status (whether it’s a great job or no job at all), level of ambition, or age.
You prioritize external characteristics above all else.
You place more importance on sexual attractiveness than emotional attractiveness.
You see your partner as a reflection of yourself.
You harbour the fantasy that someone with the appearance or professional status you are drawn to will be enough to make you happy.
You eventually end up feeling like you have little in common with your partner by the end of the relationship.
Your relationship consistently end because you don’t place a sufficient priority on the internal, emotional characteristics of your partners.
How would someone describe your professional and physical type? Write down these external characteristics.
Has anyone ever idealised any of your external characteristics? Did you feel truly appreciated when they did that?
Why do you think it’s tempting to idealise external characteristics?
Can you think of people you know who repeat this pattern?
What are some emotional attributes that are worthy of more attention in the beginning of a relationship?
Write them down and keep this list for later.
THE EMOTIONAL CHASER:
You tend to have partners who ultimately won’t commit and settle down, who cheat on you, or whom you put on a pedestal.
You are usually more emotionally committed to your relationship than your partner is.
You feel like your partner has all the control and power in the relationship.
You often feel less worthy than your partner, as if your partner were more interesting or desirable than you
You believe you have to work hard to keep them interested because you feel that they could very easily slide through your fingers and slip away.
You try to shape yourself into being what you think your partner wants.
You notice that your partners always seem to have excuses for why they can’t make more time for you or why they don’t want to take the relationship to the next level.
You feels like you’re waiting and hoping for your partner to realise that you are the one they really want.
You have a hard time imagining yourself settling for a love that is anything less than romantic and intense.
You see your partners as too good for you, better than you, or unattainable.
What motivates you is the prospect that if you can attain the love and affection of your lover you can finally experience the bliss of feeling good enough.
You are trying to prove to unavailable partners that you are good enough, that you are worth settling down for, you are on a mission to win the love of unavailable partners.
Whose affection and love you have worked hard to get but have never fully received?
How did the chase end? Did you get what you wanted?
What was the most difficult part of the situation to accept?
Looking back, was the chasing done in pursuit of a specific person, or did it become about something bigger?
You regularly attach yourself to partners who are emotionally unstable in some way.
You focus on and worry about your partner more than they do about themselves.
You repeatedly finds yourself with partners who at first seem to be sweet and have great potential (while also being slightly helpless or misguided), but before long reveal themselves to be emotionally volatile or unstable, aggressive and controlling, unhappy, or unable to cope with some aspect of their lives.
You often believe that love trumps everything and that ending a relationship would mean giving up on or abandoning the person you love.
You desperately try to help your partner but, at root, you are trying to change them
You tend to have partners with histories of anxiety, depression, or substance abuse.
You come from a family in which you felt the need to take care of a parent or sibling, or in which there was a high level of turmoil and drama.
You have invested all of your energy in the fantasy of who your boyfriend / girlfriend could become in the future as opposed to banking on who they are in the here-and-now. You have a fantasy that your love could transform them.
You don’t realise you’re supposed to be a partner — not a therapist or a life coaches.
You eventually start to feel crazy or to doubt yourself thinking the problem might lie in you.
You tend to be very strong, resilient, highly intuitive, sensitive, and giving .
You seek partners that are emotionally broken and dysfunctional, helpless, who can never ultimately rise to the occasion, wounded souls that can also be controlling, erratic, and emotionally volatile.
Have you ever tried to rescue a wounded soul? If so, which type? If not, why do you believe this is one pattern you wouldn’t fall into?
Can you recall a time when you got to know someone and could see that he or she was emotionally broken? How did that affect your developing friendship or relationship? How should it affect your developing relationship?
What might the appeal be of forging a relationship with a wounded soul? Why would a person fall for someone who is broken?
What are the essential differences between a wounded soul and the average man with typical imperfections?
Do You Have a Fix-It Mindset?
You repeatedly have partners who verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically abuse you.
You have noticed that your partner’s moods tend to leap, without warning, from one end of the spectrum to the other.
You often fear that one wrong move could trigger your partner to get angry and begin an abusive cycle.
You see yourself as trapped and betrayed in your relationships; you feel too guilty to leave and too afraid of what your partner might do if you tried to do so.
You try to excuse your partner’s abusive behaviour by saying things like, “It only happened once,” or “He/ she only does it when he gets mad.”
You eventually begin to wonder if you’re going insane, because your partner does such an able job of putting the blame on you
You lose your grasp on what normal behaviour in a relationship looks like and fear that the abuse has damaged you to the point that future healthy lovers wouldn’t want to be with you.
You believe your partner is treating you the way you deserve to be treated..
The constant abuse convinces you there is nothing you can do to avoid it.
Has anyone ever mistreated you verbally / physically / sexually ? If not, how have you avoided relationships with such partners?
What would you do if someone new were to abuse you in some way ?
What do you think is the hardest type of abuse to spot in other people’s relationships ?
What would be the hardest type of abuse to spot in your own relationship ?
In the next article I shall look at what causes these relationship patterns to come about and what to do to move away from them and discover the love you deserve.
This article was inspired by the book : Dr Seth Love Prescription. Overcome Repeated Relationship Patterns by Seth Meyers.
Or do you often get scared you might get trapped into being someone other than yourself?
Do you feel responsible for other people’s feelings or do you cherish your independence to the point that other people have deemed you to be insensitive?
If you have said yes to the any of the above you may have to re-adjust your understanding of what the healthy amount of responsibility is to be taken when it comes to our loved ones.
“You always hurt the one you love” goes the saying. But why is that?
Of course, nobody wants to willingly hurt the ones they love. By the same token, nobody wants to hurt themselves by losing themselves in a relationship to the point that they don’t know who they are anymore. The good news is there is no need to swing from one extreme to the other, and the trick is to find a balance between taking too much and too little responsibility for other people’s feelings. But how do we find this balance?
Before we even start thinking about others and how they respond to us we first need to be honest with ourselves and the way we feel about them.
In order to do this, we need to be self-aware, which means that we need to pay attention to the way we truly feel about other people. Once we pay attention we will start to notice how we feel and once we do that we need to accept it. There is no point in denying the truth to ourselves because whether we like it or not the truth will always come to the fore, sooner or later.
But where do our emotions come from? Are we to believe that we should be victims of our emotions, and let them have tyranny over us? Luckily it is now understood that most of our feelings are a by-product of our thoughts, whether we are conscious of them or not. Thoughts are responsible for the way we feel, and since thoughts can be positive or negative if we feel positive about something it is because of what we are thinking about it. By the same token if we tell ourselves something negative about something the resulting emotion will be negative too.
But then where do thoughts come from? Why do we have a specific thought and not another about something or someone? The answer is simpler than we think: our thoughts are a direct result of our deepest beliefs about who we are, which in turn are formed mainly during childhood and to a lesser extent during our teenage years. Sometimes these beliefs are based in hard fact, and sometimes they are a result of misconceptions which came into being as a result of past unpleasant situations out of our control. These beliefs are stored in our subconscious mind and whether we like it or not they shape our identity, the way we perceive the world around us and the way we relate to it.
Now, if we are, to be honest with ourselves about our feelings, we need to be as aware as possible of our thoughts and beliefs too so that we can be truthful with ourselves and so, in turn, be truthful in our communication with others. Of course this is not always easy, as most of our thoughts are habitual and unconscious but still, we can only do our best, and our best is all that is required of us.
Let us assume we have a working knowledge of our feelings about our partner. We are open to change our opinion if we get more information about it, but for the time being, we are pretty sure about where we stand.
The next step is to be honest with them about the way we feel about them and to act coherently in accordance to that. That is, we need our actions to be in line with our feelings. This might sound scary and might make some people anxious, especially when we have negative emotions and we are afraid that communicating these emotions to our partner might result in them not liking us anymore.
If we feel this way chances are we are taking too much responsibility for our partners’ feelings and we will end up losing ourselves in relationships. This, in turn, will make us feel resentful toward others and cause us to want to break away from them.
Why do we act this way? Because to us being approved of is more important than being truthful to who we really are. This is a dangerous game to play. In fact, nobody wants to be with someone who seems to shift their shape according to the where the wind blows. In the end, our partner is likely to lose faith and respect in us because we have lost our sense of identity and they do not know how to relate to us anymore. If this weren’t enough, a relationship based on dishonesty is never going to stand the test of time.
If we belong to this category of people, what we need to realize is that our only responsibility is in being truthful first to ourselves and then to others. Once we have communicated our feelings honestly our responsibility ends there. Of course, communication should be carried out with gentleness, tact, love, and without laying blame and our actions need to reflect our words, but provided all the above is done, the matter is then out of our hands.
If, in spite of all the above our partner still chooses to react negatively to what we have communicated we need to realize that’s what they choose to do and it becomes solely their issue. It is essential that the “it’s my fault” trap be avoided because that only leads to emotional manipulation.
If, however, we are to have a healthy relationship the other person has to learn to accept us for who we are and to appreciate our honesty. If they cannot do that, we need to acknowledge that the relationship is unbalanced. In fact, when the other person is ready for it, the truth will create a strong bond between two people without anyone losing their sense of self because healthy boundaries are put into place. After all, if done with love, truthful communication is ultimately positive and will only build bridges between people.
The opposite of the approval seeking behavior just described is the one taken by those of us who are so scared of losing their sense of self that they over-compensate by refusing to take any responsibility for other people’s feelings. If we belong to this category chances are we will appear selfish and insensitive to others, while we may harbor deep, sometimes secret feelings of guilt. We may even believe ourselves to be “bad” because that is what others have told us countless times.
In reality, we are just trying to protect ourselves from being smothered and suffocated in relationships. Perhaps, during our own infancy, we experienced a primary caregiver who was too fearful and that reacted to their fear by smothering us with too much “love”. As a result of these early imprints, we have come to equate closeness with danger and we will end up, again and again, acting in ways that sabotage closeness and that make other people feel rejected. Of course, this behavior does not do us any favors because it makes it impossible for us to maintain a relationship for very long. In order to correct this error, we need to understand that acknowledging and caring about someone else’s feelings need not mean we have to deny our own. In fact, we have to realize that being assertive does not mean doing whatever we want regardless of how our partner feels about it. On the other hand, we need be able to clarify to each other what each deems to be acceptable behavior so that we do not fall prey to emotional manipulation.
As an aside, it is interesting to notice that often these two types of people attract each other and end up in relationships that recreate familiar negative patterns. Each partner acts in ways that alienate the other by “pushing their buttons” and a drama is created where each person’s negative beliefs are confirmed by the other’s behavior. This kind of relationships is often very painful but it also offers great insight and as such an invaluable opportunity for growth for all parties involved, because it exposes the fallacy of both partners habitual thinking patterns.
To summarise, if we want to avoid the pitfalls of caring too much or too little for other people’s feelings, first we need to pay attention and become aware of our habitual patterns of behaviour: whether we try to fit into the idea of who we imagine the other person wants us to be or whether we ignore our partner’s needs and feelings we have one problem in common: we are following an erroneoushabitual pattern of behaviour which needs to be changed.
Once we consciously recognize our need to change we can tackle the causes for such behavior and explore the erroneous beliefs which caused it to emerge in the first place.
Since beliefs and habits have their seat into the Subconscious Mind and Hypnosis grants us access to the latter, Hypnotherapy can be highly effective in isolating such erroneous beliefs so we can face them and correct them.
Once we do this we are free to be ourselves and to relate to others in healthy ways because we learn to respect ourselves and others; we accept and love ourselves and others for who they are; we stop demanding from others that they be what we want them to be and we stop demanding that we fit into other people’s idea of who we are. We become conscious of our choices of partners and we only relate to those that can relate to us in healthy ways. We consider other people ‘s feelings but we do not let them overwhelm us to the point of losing ourselves in them. We learn to love without expectations and projections, and our relationships cease to be battlegrounds for our unconscious conflicts because we understand that our duty to each other is one of honesty and support. And so we grant others the same rights we have and grant ourselves the same rights we give others.
This kind of relationship is bound to create a deep sense of trust between two people and is therefore healthy. A healthy relationship may take many forms in its constant development but nonetheless, it will always grow into something beautiful and positive which will benefit all parties involved.
There are ways in which hypnotherapy can help you and your partner understand each other better. Please get in contact with me today to find out how. Email us or call us now on 075 44247800.