Have you ever found yourself uncontrollably attracted to someone, only to have the relationship ultimately end in heartbreak? Do you continuously fall for the same type of person despite past relationships that have failed? Why do we find ourselves in these situations, and how do we break this vicious cycle?
Ideally, we find happiness and security within ourselves first, and then we meet a mate whom is equally happy and secure. However, this is not always the case. Many factors come into play when determining a significant other but one huge (and very common) factor is that this person ultimately meets some unfulfilled need or desire. Often, we try to find fulfillment through some other person, and this tends to not work out.
Let’s say you do not feel in control of your life. You might be overwhelmed with work, friends or just life in general. You might find yourself attracted to someone who is strong, and somewhat controlling or over-bearing. Initially, this makes you feel safe. However, after some time together, the relationship turns rocky, because in dating a control freak, the reality is that you have lost even more control over your life than you previously had.
Perhaps you had a chaotic childhood. You might never have been able to find peace at home, so you seek out a mate from a similar background, which results in a chaotic relationship. This is attractive to you because 1) it is familiar and research has shown we prefer familiarity and 2) you now have a second chance to fix the chaos. We often find ourselves in similar patters and cycles because we subconsciously feel the need to redeem ourselves.
If you look within, what needs or desires are not currently being met? Identifying these needs is the first step towards finding a healthy relationship. Just as we bring our baggage into a relationship, so does the other person. Rather that piling on the luggage, wouldn’t it be nice to unpack first and start fresh? Wouldn’t it be nice to date someone that you want rather than need?
Therapy is a great way to explore your unmet needs and reoccurring relationship patterns. Without a little self-exploration, the cycle will continue. A great starting place is to make two lists: First, list what you want in a partner. Next, make a list of your worries and fears. Compare these lists. Does your desired partner serve to relieve your inner fears? You can also make a list of current relationship issues you may be experiencing with family, co-workers or friends. Does your desired partner serve to fix an issue that you may be having with someone else?
We often do not realize we have been looking for the wrong person until we find love, happiness and security within ourselves rather than trying to find it though others. Your significant other should complement you, not complete you. Your happiness should be increased by you relationship, not dependent upon it. Once we find peace within ourselves, our hearts become more open and receptive to healthier relationships. Failed relationships are not always a bad thing. We can learn from our tendencies and patterns. Be patient and open to self-exploration. It is all a process and we often have to kiss a few frogs before finding our price (or princess).