Why Do We Continue to Make the Same Mistakes in Our Relationships?

It is not uncommon for people to find that they keep making the same mistakes in their relationships. They may despair that they always pick the same kind of partner, someone who treats them badly, who won’t commit, someone whom they feel unable to trust or who constantly lets them down. They may swear that this time they are going to learn from their bad experience and not make the same mistakes again, but still they end up in the same situation with their next partner.

Let’s look at the reasons why people keep making the same mistakes in their relationships:

– When a person is choosing a partner they pattern match; they look for characteristics and traits that they recognise, feel comfortable with, that are familiar. This applies equally to both good and bad traits. A person may have come to associate nice with routine and boring, or volatile with exciting, interesting, never a dull moment. They may not like the way they are treated in their relationships, promise themselves that they will leave and find someone who treats them better/differently, but when they look for a new relationship they automatically gravitate to what they recognise and are familiar with.

– Better the devil I know is a saying that rings true in this situation. People intuitively respond to characteristics that are familiar to them. They learn the most effective way to survive, manage and react to difficult situations through becoming accustomed to dealing with them over the years. They may have come to expect that this is how men and women behave, this is what adult relationships look like. Their role models have taught them what to expect from relationships.

Growing up, the way they were treated by their parents formed part of their conditioning, as did watching the way their parents treated each other. Similarly, if they felt the need to compete with their mother/father or siblings for their mother/father’s affection, learning what worked and what didn’t work all formed part of the lessons in relationship skills.

– Safe is boring. Often people who are accustomed to volatile relationships, when asked how they would feel if they dated a regular, steady person, someone who is safe, dependable, respectful, struggle to stifle a yawn. They are used to scary and dangerous, and find those relationships exciting even though they may be distressed and terrified for part of the time. They may spend much of their time walking on eggshells, scared of saying or doing the ‘wrong’ thing but prefer that to the alternative. These people may regard being treated badly as part of the price they have to pay for having an exciting relationship.

– This is all I deserve. Some people have such low self-esteem that they feel grateful if anyone wants to be with them. They may spend their time trying to be what that they think the other person wants them to be, second guessing every comment, convinced that if they did better, tried harder everything would be fine. This situation ends up being unsatisfactory for everyone. They feel increasingly annoyed, upset, distressed that their partner is not happy with them; whilst their partner may be a bully who is impossible to satisfy or be someone who is increasingly frustrated at their lack of confidence and assertiveness. Either way, the pattern in the relationship becomes more and more damaging and destructive over time.

It is only when we recognise that we are following a destructive pattern in our relationships that we can start to do something about it. Friends and family may despair, try repeatedly to give warnings and advice, but the desire for change has got to come from ourselves. Counselling and hypnotherapy can play an important role in recognising where the pattern has come from and then work towards healing it and becoming more positive about committing to a healthier and more equal quality of relationship from now on.