We, as humans, are creatures of habit. But while patterns and rituals are typically helpful in maximizing brain space, certain patterns in our relationships don’t usually serve us. For example, finding yourself in the “same relationship” over and over again can feel like déjà vu– and not in a good way. If you find yourself saying “hmm, I’ve been here before.” and feel caught in the same issues with one relationship after another, maybe it’s time to take a look at your particular relationship MO in order to break the pattern once an for all, so that you can find the person you’re really looking for and then make that relationship thrive.
The first thing to acknowledge is what you really like about new relationships in the first place. Is it something specific to this new and unique person, or is it that intoxicating feeling of excitement and intrigue that comes with almost any initial attraction? Chances are, it’s the “high” you have when you first connect with a perspective new partner along with the exciting prospect of a new relationship—with all the related fantasies— and the great sexual attraction. This together can feel so ecstatic and so right. Rogers and Hart nailed it in the song, “Falling In Love With Love.” It’s not until that initial fire dies down that you get to see if the relationship stands the true test of time. After this “honeymoon” period, you have a choice: move on to the next short-term relationship (aka déjà vu) or explore the prospect of you and your partner moving the relationship toward long-term status. At this point, do you find yourself having the same issues and arguments you did the last time around? For example, is this person scared of commitment just like the last person you dated? Are you blaming him or her for your disappointment that the effortless initial passion you had together has gone away—as by definition, initial passion always does?
So now is the time to ask yourself what’s the pattern I keep finding myself in that keeps me from having the long term relationship I want? Once you recognize your specific pattern and take responsibility for it, you have empowered yourself to break that pattern and avoid revisiting your old relationship traps. For example, if you find that you often become another person’s rebound relationship, you can make sure to ask the right questions to satisfy yourself that a new person you meet is ready for a new relationship. Also ask yourself what do I really want now that’s different? Make sure you enter the dating world with clear criteria for what you’re seeking in a new partner. In other words, use your head as well as your heart when searching for a mate. For example, if you’ve found yourself more than once in a situation with a person who is smothering or too demanding of your time, you may want to make sure a new partner has enough of a life of his or her own this time.
Remember: recognizing and then moving beyond the patterns that haven’t worked up until now is the most important step you can take toward find a truly fulfilling and long-term relationship.