Some time ago, I spoke with a single, let’s call her Sandra, who told me that she’d been single for over 20 years now. Questioningly I looked at her, as she continued with a more than annoyed facial expression, “I did have some successful dates, which even led to relationships. They were only of short length though, before the same shit happened again. I always fall for the same idiots. Now, I have given up on my dream of a happy family and even my dream to have children.” Expectantly Sandra looked at me, “What would you suggest? What am I doing wrong?” I thought carefully before I replied, as I knew that the answer to her question, a question that so many singles ask themselves, pretty much always lies within ourselves. “Well, actually it is pretty simple — stop dating the wrong guy”, I responded. Being aware that my answer sounded pretty simple, that’s how simple it is really. Most people don’t realise that they repeat the same dating patterns over and over again. And the ones, like Sandra, that do realise the vicious cycle don’t know how to escape and change their patterns.
Find your RIGHT Partner before your enter the WRONG relationship (again!)
Do I live in patterns?
Conscious of it or not — all of us human super-beings follow patterns throughout our whole lifes. We think we live self-determined and follow our free will, but this is not really so. Most follow patterns from their past. “How do I know, if I am stuck in patterns of my past?”, you might ask yourself. Well, take a moment to reflect your love relationships (you can include other relationships as well of course). Do you note any similarities, any repeating patterns? Maybe you find strong resemblances in the appearance and looks of your (ex-)partners. You might discover that their characters were, at the core, all the same and maybe you experienced the same conflicts over the same topics over and over again. If this is so, you have the proof that you are basically living the past over and over again, as you transfer the same patterns continuously into every new relationship. This transfer happens automatically and in most cases unconsciously as we follow the scheme to pick our partners, we enter the relationship with our same character patterns and expectations, treat our new partner the same way as the last, but are convinced that this time — THIS TIME!- everything will be better. This time we have found the perfect partner, with whom we have fallen so madly in love with. During the initial period, the honeymoon part, drug-like hormones and chemicals in our brain intoxicate us and make us believe to have found what we have wished for so long — the love of our life! At this point we are blind to see the real self of our new partner and their imperfections. Don’t get me wrong please, I am not saying that falling in love is bad. Quite the contrary is the case, having a crush is beautiful and should be enjoyed as long as it lasts. As long as one still stays conscious of it and keeps in mind, that this phenomenon is intended by mother nature for a reason — namely to bond ourselves to another human beeing to reproduce. Mother nature does not consider if two humans are a good fit characterwise and for a longterm relationship. This bond is based on gene attraction.
Where do our dating-patterns come from anyway?
Without going to deep into the depth psychology, most of our patterns are rooted in our childhood experiences and the way we were raised. Think of the first relationships you have experienced, observed and the people, who have influenced you and your perception of how a love relationship should be. For some it is really easy to see the connections between their adult love relationships and their childhood relations, less so for others.
A real-life example will clearify what I mean. A woman, lets call her Jill, had a very dominant father, who lived by strict rules and set high expectations. Jill, as a child, learned that she had to obey her fathers rules and to earn her fathers love by reaching these unrealistic expectations, which she never achieved. As everything that Jill did wasn’t good enough, she gave up trying, lost her self-confidence more and more and manifested this deep believe of not being worthy of any true love and affection. At the same time, Jill’s mother obeyed her father too in order to avoid conflicts. Her mother was a perfectionist, who was constantly under stress making sure every chore got done immediately. Further more, she never allowed herself any luxury as she told her children that she never had enough time nor money for herself. Through this upbringing Jill developed beliefs about herself, about how other people perceive and treat herself, how she should or shouldn’t act, what she is and isn’t worthy of and so forth. The end of this story is, that Jill always subconsciously picked dominant man, whom she obeyed in order to win and maintain their love and to avoid any kind of stress, while she constantly stressed and pressured herself to be perfect in everything that she did, while her partners ruled over her life. As this was the way Jill had learned to live her relationships, eventhough she felt unhappy and unfairly treated, she stayed with one dominant partner until she got treated so bad, that she left one dominant partner only to find a new dominant man.
This is only one example to demonstrate how our learned behaviours and perceptions from our childhood often determine our future. Maybe, depending on your upbringing and your experiences in life so far, you might think that this is a pure nightmare. Let me assure you, that this is not the case! Behind our learned behaviours are vital reasons, namely for us to fit into and survive in our environment and find ways of how to build relationships with the people around us. As we re-live our patterns as adults, they also give us a sense of security as we re-live the known.
How do I break through patterns?
The first and most important step is to recognise, that these patterns exist! It is saddening that so many people live in unhealthy and unhappy relationships, blaming everything on bad luck, convinced that they are not meant to find true love, when in fact our fate always lies in our hands. Everything in our life happens for a reason and these reasons concerning our love relations are often easily to determine. If you are at this point convinced, that you have no luck in your love-life, but there simply are no patterns visible to you, perhaps you might want to call a neutral person to your help. This could be a close friend, who knows you well enough, or a coach or therapist, whose area of expertise lies in relationships. It is not even necessary for you to dig deep into your childhood, as I did in the example above, it is merely important to understand the existing patterns (eventhough, I personally find it in most cases helpful to fully understand the deep roots of our learned behaviours). What is made visible and is understood can now be changed. Start to think about in detail what you actually want to change. Declutter and detangle the structures of your past relationships. Take your time — you will find that it will be worth it and I am sure that you will have a few eyeopening moments! In order to gain clarity about what you actually do want to change in the future, when trying to finally find a loving fitting partner and relationship, I advice you to focus on the positive. Some of these questions might help you:
What made me happy in my past relationships? What was good for me and made me feel good? What were my needs, that I realised needed to be met in all my relationships? Which behaviours did I like — about myself and my partner? While you think about your needs and wants, I urge you to question everything and to make sure that your future expectations are realistic. Meaning, it is certainly not realistic to be expecting your next partner to idolise you and never speak with other woman. Self-reflection can be hard in that the own sometimes seen as negative character traits, such as jealousy perhaps, need to be reflected as well. Again, it is important to understand that there is a reason behind the way we are (which doesn’t mean that all our behaviours are justified! but in someways we simply don’t know any better or don’t understand ourselves as we have always been that way).
While you ponder about those and many more questions, your vision of your happy relationship will become lucid. You will also start to see a clearer picture of which kind of partner you will need to find, in order to be able to lead such a healthy relationship.
You might discover, as Jill did, that certain typs of man, are simply not a good fit if you wish to live in a truly fulfilling relationship. You might also find, that you will have to place greater focus on some of your behaviours in order to attract a different type of partner. Perhaps you might need to become more self-confident, learn to speak your mind, learn to say “no”, set clear boundaries, or be less dominant and controlling and learn to relax more. At this point, many fail to jump over their own shadow. They don’t want to acknowledge what they see as weaknesses, when in fact this realisation and willingness to change and develope means and is life! There are always two choices — change it or leave things as they are, but then don’t complain! I say, life is to short to be unhappy. Rather take the opportunity to make changes, grow through your experiences and ultimately live a fulfilled life.
Finding the right partner
Now that we have taken a small glimpse into how patterns from our past can influence our partner choice and the way we live our love relationships, there are other factors to consider when picking a partner. Lets say, you’ve got a pretty clear picture now, of what you want in your next relationship and which character traits you will look for in your next partner — how can you make sure, that you will definitely pick the right one? My advice — change your attitude towards dating! In fact, don’t date. Don’t go out with the intention of wanting to find the right partner for life. Rather, meet singles on eye level. Imagine you meet a good old friend. Stay relaxed, try to see the other person the way they really are and don’t let yourself be fool by infatuation. Attraction is of course important for the sexual part of a relationship, but good looks don’t necessarily make a good partner for life. Take your time. Just think about how long it took you to get to know your close friends and you are still probably getting to know them. What did it take to built trust between you and your friends? Don’t try to make hasty decisions, rather get to know your possible candidate in different situations. After all, you are trying to find a partner for life! Test if you are on the same wavelength. Do you find similar life perceptions, goals and attitudes? Avoid rose-coloured lenses, rather see things as they are. The man you have met looks unbelievably handsome, but you just can’t find common grounds? Don’t be afraid to tell him, that he is a really nice man, but that he is not the right man for you.
Most importantly listen to your instincts and your gut feeling. If you know yourself well you will hear your inner voice, which guides you to make the right decisions. Always ask yourself: am I feeling really comfortable with this other person? Can I be my true self, with which I feel happy with? Does this feel right? Can you picture a future with this person?
Final but important note
At the end I want to say this. Make sure that you are entering a love relationship for the right reasons. Don’t tie yourself out of loneliness, feeling of incompleteness or lack of love. Only date if you are truly ready for a new relationship. Relationships of any kind are there to be enjoyed. As Esther Perel, famous relationship therapist, says: “Every relationship tells a different story”, and it is you, together with your partner, who decides how this story wil go. Learn and grow through those stories and cherish them as they are your life. Thank you for reading ❤
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