Do you have a habit of dating the same men (or women) over and over again? Can’t figure out why you keep dating Mr or Miss Wrong? Your emotional scars from old relationships can mar your relationship choices and your interactions within those relationships.
In this article, I am going to get you to answer three questions to help you reveal your own destructive dating patterns, using my own experiences as a guide to help you.
1. What destructive personality traits in a partner are you attracted to?
There are many potential negative qualities in a partner that can quickly undermine your self-worth if you remain unaware of them. Think about instances in your previous relationships where you have felt less than special to your partner. What personality traits were they displaying at the time? Some examples are self-centredness, egotism, neediness, jealousy, stinginess, and insecurity.
The destructive personality trait that I’ve been drawn to in the past is aloofness. Surprisingly enough, aloofness is not particularly conducive to healthy, loving relationships. In fact, it’s somewhat masochistic to be drawn to men who are blasé about spending time with you.
Can you think of instances where a particular personality trait you are drawn to has applied to more than one of your previous partners? Yes? Congratulations, you’ve just uncovered your first dating pattern!
Once you’ve identified your primary dating pattern, it’s time to understand why you are perpetually attracted to people with that trait.
2. Why are you attracted to a particular destructive personality trait?
Figuring out why you feel attraction enables you pinpoint the source of your problem so you can exert more control over your emotions and decisions.
In my case, my attraction to aloof men stems from my experience as a victim of domestic abuse. My ex-partner would get edgy if I went out without him or broke my usual routine, question me relentlessly about my whereabouts and company, snoop through my mobile and instant messaging conversations to see what I’d been up to, and be furious if I spent time with platonic male friends. This situation resulted in my health plummeting and my stress levels soaring sky-high for the duration of our relationship.
Consequently, I subconsciously sought out men who were my ex-partner’s polar opposite in my subsequent dating endeavours – those who didn’t raise an eyebrow if I went out without them, spent time with male friends, chose to see my friends over spending time with them, or went out partying until the early hours of the morning. Despite blogging openly about my relationship experiences, I’m a naturally shy personality and I get irritated and uncomfortable when people try to probe into my private life unnecessarily. In the case of potential partners, the less they badgered me about prior relationships and how I spent my time, the more I liked them.
Unfortunately, I never do things by halves and I swung too much back the other way. I went from dating a psychotically possessive emotional rollercoaster to dating men who steadfastly kept a careful emotional distance and rarely showed emotion or attachment. Seeking out these men was my subconscious protection from ever becoming involved with someone who would damage my emotional health to the extent that my abusive ex-partner did again.
Now that I am aware of my pattern, I’m able to consciously work on breaking it. Awareness means I’m no longer subconsciously seeking men who are aloof through indifference rather than a genuine understanding of my needs. Somewhere between the extremes of possessive and aloof is a happy balance. For me to feel special but not smothered in a relationship, I need someone who enjoys and wants to spend time with me as much as I do them, but balances that with their own life, interests, and doesn’t crack the shits when I want to do my own thing.
Try to identify why you have a dating pattern. For example, if you have a habit of dating needy men, look to your past and try to understand what spurs your desire to create relationships where you take on a motherly role rather than that of an equal partner. If you’re constantly dating Mr. Scrooge, is it because you’ve had an experience in the past that convinced you that you aren’t worthwhile enough to be treated well? Once you know why your dating pattern exists, it’s time to work on breaking it.
3. How do you break a destructive dating pattern?
The first step is to admit to yourself that you have a destructive dating pattern. Once you’ve established that, stop shifting the blame to your partner. They could have the worst personality traits in the world, but it’s your choice to be with them. You and you alone are responsible for the quality of your relationships and the people you attract into your life. If you aren’t attracting the type of people you want, change what you’re doing. The definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting different results.
Recognise the relationships in your life that are reinforcing the negative pattern and either consciously amend or relinquish them. Relationships that perpetuate a negative state of mind are not relationships at all – they’re merely comfort blankets. Just let go…you really will be fine.
Subconscious patterns have much less power over you once you bring them into your conscious mind. In becoming aware of and consciously changing your dating pattern, you force the corresponding fears and experiences to relinquish the vice-grip they’ve had over your psyche.
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