Patterns of Failed Relationships Requires Self-Examination

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If the common factor in repeated failed relationships is you, it’s time to face that fact and learn what it means.

Clients sometimes show up at my door in a state of brutal honesty with themselves. They have come to the realization that the common denominator in all their past failed relationships is them. It may seem obvious to some, and yet many people walking the planet are more than willing to look outward and blame other people for their lost hopes, dreams, and expectations.

In reality, we can’t hope to “fix” something in the next relationship, or the relationship after that, when the source of the discomfort was generated very early on in our existence. The only thing we tend to do, with great certainty, is to replay our issues in collaboration with our next partner, and usually with an increase in intensity.

“Relation-shape” is, in a way, like going back to the gym after a long layoff. Yet for some, they have never walked inside the door of a gym before, much less taken a look inside themselves. Most people avoid that look inside and instead will go back to the gym, lose the weight, tone the body, and think they are ready for the next relationship. The only thing you can be assured of is that you’ll be in good shape for the next fight.

Many clients have told me they are tired of it, that they want things to be different — only to get pulled into yet another fruitless relationship where the only thing they get is more aggravation. If people aren’t ready, really ready to do it differently, then they can expect the same results they have always received. As a Relationship Coach, I want more for my clients, and I know that whatever choices they ultimately make are about their readiness and willingness to jump in.

Strip yourself bare and start from scratch

If individuals are truly committed to the process, the first thing I ask of them is to strip the walls bare. No more painting over layers and layers of old paint, seeking a shortcut or a quick fix. Sand it, strip it; be willing to start from scratch.

Then you’ll need to look at the common thread that has run through your relationships. Is there a specific pattern that draws you in and ramps things up? And then the flip side: What patterns emerge when things start to go downhill, leading up to the crash and burn? Very rarely do I come across a client who didn’t know early on that the relationship probably wasn’t going to work. Look, even in Vegas, when you play by house rules, you know that the odds are the house usually wins.

Knowing that in many of your past relationships the odds were stacked against you, let’s look for the information your specific stories are revealing. When things end, who ultimately pulls the plug? Who usually runs for the hills or hangs on like a bull rider waiting to get thrown? If you are willing to look, it’s not hard to see your own patterns.

Check what you want in relationships versus what you believe

Once you grasp the issues, you’ll need to get clear on what you want versus what you believe. Beliefs are the killer. Most, if not all, are outdated and lacking in anything that represents real-time present reality. Separate them out in two columns on a piece of paper — wants and beliefs. Start tracking what you want versus what you believe. You may want to be in a long-term relationship, but you may believe relationships don’t last. See how many of them contradict each other and create a lose-lose situation for you.

Ask yourself this: Who is the point-of-origin person who taught me relationships don’t work? Where in my early life and beyond did I receive an additional confirmation by way of example? Once you figure it out, you’ll need to forgive these folks and, most importantly, forgive yourself for buying into someone else’s reality. Decide what it is that you want to believe, and then go out and make it happen!

Once you’ve updated these beliefs, you’ll need to put the ball into play. Rule of thumb — make sure your actions, words, and behaviors all line up to support one another. If you flip-flop, for instance, saying one thing and doing another, you’ll find yourself with some more sandpaper back at the wall in need of some touch-up work.

The keys in all of this are to understand where it all comes from, to forgive others and yourself for any judgments you may hold, and to get back out in the game with your own new set of beliefs to live by. Great things can happen when you realize “the one” is not out there but is waiting inside of you.