Relationship Patterns Your Therapist Is Looking For
Every person and every relationship is unique, but at the end of the day, no matter how you got there, or what part of his childhood or your childhood caused it, most unhealthy couples tend to exist in the realm of a handful of common patterns. You can explain how your relationship is unique until you’re blue in the face, but when all is said and done, if you end this relationship, you’ll look back and realize, “Ah. Yeah—my relationship fell into one of those patterns.” Many toxic patterns are just difficult to spot while you’re living them, but the trained eye (like the eye of a therapist) can see them with just a little information. In case you’re wondering where your therapist is going with her line of questioning, here are relationship patterns your therapist is looking for.
Making excuses for your partner
When your partners let you down, you make excuses for them. You can always put yourself in their shoes and always empathize with why they had to let you down. But ultimately, that doesn’t change the fact that they cannot give you what you need. Understanding why your partner can never hang out with your friends doesn’t put his butt in a chair at brunch with them. Of course, if you’re only dating men who can’t give you what you need, something deeper is at work, like a lack of self-love, or a fear of a relationship that will work out.
Jumping in too fast
As soon as you like a guy and he likes you, you’re spending every night together, you’re helping him pick out furniture and you’re keeping items in a drawer at his place. You’re planning a trip together and meeting all of his friends. People who jump into relationships are often rather insecure. They cannot handle the slow pace of getting to know someone and seeing if that person likes them after they know everything. They feel more secure making enormous commitments to people, and receiving an enormous commitment before anyone can realize they’re not compatible.
Never being alone
Your therapist will certainly notice if you’re a serial monogamist and she probably won’t support it. Sure, some people just happen to meet truly compatible partners right after ending a relationship. But that’s, like, one percent of people who are always in relationships. The rest just refuse to be alone and tell themselves the next guy they meet is perfect for them.
Dating men you criticize
When you speak about your partner, is it always negatively? Do you seem to only have bad things to say about the men you date? Your therapist will take note. Why do you date these men, if you dislike them so much? Or perhaps a better question is: why are you afraid to be with someone you admire and respect?
Changing for your partners
Are you a relationship chameleon? Do you take on the habits, interests, and lifestyles of the men you date? Do you know everything about sailing and join the sailing club and make friends with sailors because your boyfriend does all those things? You likely have an identity crisis, or a fear of self-discovery. Your therapist will want to get to the bottom of that.
Trying to change all of your partners
Perhaps you don’t change for your partners but you expect them all to change for you. Every boyfriend is a project. When your therapist asks how your relationship is going, you start to list all the ways you’re improving your partner—as if he is your child. Usually, when you only date people who you want to change, it’s because you’re avoiding facing something you’d like to change about yourself.
Getting ahead of yourself
When a guy asks you on a second date, do you start talking about how you could really see a future with him? Do you feel that you are in love with someone, after only knowing him for a few weeks? This is different than jumping into something because this is a one-way street—you’re getting serious about this guy in your head, and he doesn’t know it. It’s not healthy and represents a lack of emotional maturity your therapist will want to work on.
Seeking men you have to win over
Maybe you only like men who are not interested in you. Perhaps you date men who are very picky, or who are even critical of you. If a man doesn’t pay you any interest, he’s the man you want. Your stories of budding relationships rarely start with mutual interest and admiration: they’re tales of you winning a guy over. People typically only like people they feel they must win over when they are battling deep insecurities. They look for approval in others. The harder the approval is to get, the more you want it.
Only wanting taken men
Your therapist isn’t going to just let it slide if you always fall for men who are married or in relationships. Falling for these men can represent a slew of issues. It can represent a lack of self-love (you won’t give yourself what you deserve, which is an available man) or a fear of commitment (these affairs are usually fruitless).
Being “stolen” from relationships
You tend to exit relationships by being “stolen” from them. In other words, you attract men who like to steal taken women out of relationships. This is also often a sign of deep-seated insecurity or a lack of emotional maturity. If someone can just steal you from a relationship then that means you have very bad communication skills within your relationship. If you could communicate to your partner, then he could give you what you needs, and no one could steal you away.
Making your relationship your life
Is your relationship the only thing you talk about in therapy? Do you bend over backward to accommodate it? Do you pass up on career opportunities, in order to be there for your partner? Do you skip your social engagements, to spend time with your partner? Do you make all your decisions based on what’s best for the relationship and being with your partner? That’s called codependency. Uh-oh.
Using relationships as a distraction
Is your relationship the reason you haven’t been able to finish school? Start school? Apply for the jobs you really want? Get your life started? Your therapist will notice if you’ve been saying, for years that you’ll go back to school “Once things settle down in my relationship.” You are likely finding problems in your relationship, or choosing all-consuming relationships, so you can avoid moving on in life, and doing the things you’re afraid to do.
Looking for distractions from your relationships
Maybe you never want to talk about your relationship. Maybe you tell your therapist, “I’ll sit down and talk out my issues with my partner as soon as I’m done with this other thing.” That means you have a huge fear of being emotionally open. Or, you’re just with the wrong person and afraid to admit it.
Falling into relationships
Do you just find yourself calling someone your boyfriend, even if you don’t feel strongly about him? Do you go on vacations with men you feel lukewarm about? Do you meet the families of men you feel lukewarm about? Do you do relationship-y things that make it seem like you’re in love, with men you don’t love? This is a complicated pattern that could be a symptom of a lot of issues. One of those issues is depression. If you already don’t feel happy, or if you even feel numb, then it won’t make much difference to you if your relationship doesn’t make you happy.
Whatever relationship your parents had
Your therapist will 100 percent ask all about your parents’ relationship and look for patterns that indicate you’re headed for the same relationship. If they had a great relationship, then, great! But if they had an unhealthy one, you could be prone to falling into the same type of relationship.