Bad relationships to repeat? Break your unhealthy patterns

Critic. Sarcasm. Disrespect. Repeat.

These are just some of the relational behaviors that some, when repeated, may make you wonder, “How did I get back here?” The relationship may have started very well, you thought it was amazing, a good person, a good partner. But when the red flags started waving, you either ignored them or excused them because you wanted this to be what you expected it to be.

The chemistry is amazing! They are very attentive and affectionate! They are the life of the party!

If you have been through a lot of painful relationships and this sounds familiar to you, encourage yourself to know that you are one of the many who with great intentions and hopes of love and find your person who ends up entangled in unhealthy relationships and yet remain you. Hope is a powerful elixir and it is often difficult to see what you dream of thought they were really just that, a dream.

Healthy relationships require a series of pieces to be put in place by the two people involved. A history of secure bonding and emotional security increases your chances of being provided with the tools you need.

Here are more behaviors that often characterize unhealthy relationships:

  • betrayal
  • bullying
  • verbal or physical abuse
  • guilt
  • insulation
  • dishonesty
  • control
  • disrespect
  • bad communication
  • gas lighting
  • drama

If you’ve often felt scared, sad, lonely, or angry in your relationships, it may help to explore why. Be open to thinking about your role in these unhealthy patterns, as you probably have one. If you’ve run into these relationships and missed the red flags, keep in mind these important indicators that you may find yourself in a situation that’s not ideal. Learn how to spot red flags:

  • Feel like walking on eggshells?
  • Is this person saying derogatory or nasty things to you?
  • Are you getting lost in the relationship?
  • Do you feel confused or crazy at times?
  • Are you accustomed to not meeting your needs?

Think of someone you know who is generally happy, confident, confident, and who tends to choose the right partner. Imagine if that person met someone and started seeing some of the red flags you ignored in some of your relationships. What would they have done? They probably wouldn’t have stayed when they determined that despite some of the brilliant aspects of this potential couple, they deserved and wanted better in a relationship.

Why should you make decisions other than their own at the initial critical moment? It’s complicated and often has to do with your story and what you’ve learned about love, relationships, your courage and trust, to name a few. The work of the family of origin can be useful to get more clarity on your part.

Some indicators of your role are conflict avoidance and lack of boundaries. If you can begin to imagine how contributing to a relationship can be perfect for some of the unhealthy behaviors listed above, you may be able to see how this can happen. And you may be able to better understand why one person is more likely to stay than another. Recognizing your own relationship challenges is the first step in breaking the cycle.

According to Sue Johnson, PhD, in Time, The Science Behind Happy Relationships,

Good relationships are not only happier and more enjoyable. When we know how to heal ourselves [relationships] and keeping them strong makes us resilient. All these clichés about how love makes us stronger are not just clichés; it is physiology. Connecting with people who love and value us is our only safety net in life.

Keep in mind that unhealthy patterns can arise for anyone, especially in times of high stress. Couples in which both couples come from a secure education where healthy relationships were modeled, good communication and learning that are lovable and have value, often have an advantage, but even for them, vulnerability and authenticity is not always a straight line. For many who have more difficult stories that create obstacles emotionally or in their relationships, there can be incredible positive changes and changes.

Here are some steps you can take to help break down unhealthy relationships:

  1. Recognize dysfunctional behavior in the other.
  2. Understand why you are in a cycle of unhealthy relationships by identifying your unhelpful beliefs and coping strategies.
  3. Heal the wounds that led to the story you have about yourself and what you deserve.
  4. With a list of red flags ready, practice new relationship skills with healthier people.

If you are ready to move from unhappy to happy relationships, do it! A therapist with a home-based family work approach can be a guide to this process (see the Psychology Today Therapist Directory) or you can try the self-help route by educating yourself first. My eBook, Break Your Unhealthy Relationship Patterns or Online Course Version in the sidebar of this article are just a few of the many options available online with a little research.

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