Everyone has a relationship pattern, whether they know it or not. If you can see and understand your pattern you will get powerful insight into what’s happening in your relationships.
It all starts with your unconscious mind having a relationship agenda that often goes against your conscious intent and desire. If you are single, consciously you may want to meet the right person and create a happy lasting relationship. Or if you are already in a relationship or married, your conscious intent may be to heal or resolve what ails your relationship, so that the two of you become close again.
Your unconscious mind, however, is focused on something else entirely – it wants to tell stories about your past unresolved hurts and issues. These stories repeat, and this is what is called your relationship pattern.
You can think of your unconscious mind as similar to your digestive system. If you eat something bad, you are not going to feel well or function well until the thing you ate is processed and digested out of your system. Significant painful events are to the unconscious mind what bad food is to the digestive system, except these are not as easily digested or eliminated.
Your unconscious mind is more powerful than your conscious mind and for a good reason. Its intent is to help you become a whole and integrated being. It does this by having you act out stories about past painful events, so that you can re-experience them. This is how it retells your unprocessed past hurts, so you can learn to respond differently and create healing. In moments when you don’t understand your own emotional reactions or behavior in relationships, when you feel in ways you wish you did not feel, or think thoughts you wish you did not think, your unconscious mind is running the show.
For example, let’s take a single woman whose father left the family when she was young. He did not stay in contact with his daughter. The story her unconscious mind will show her is that she was hurt by being abandoned by her father. This means she will unknowingly recreate the experience of abandonment in her romantic relationships. She will enter into relationships with unavailable men without realizing that they are unavailable. Yet, as she gets to know them, she will find that they leave, don’t want a committed relationship, or have an addiction of some sort that keeps them from being available.
In another example, lets take a single man. When he was just 6 years old his parents got divorced. His mom was grieving the loss of her marriage while trying to keep the family afloat financially, while stressed and overwhelmed. The little boy decided to become a support person for his mom and stopped expecting her to parent him. The story his unconscious mind will show him again and again is that he was hurt by the absence of age-appropriate care and support. He might repeatedly attract selfish or self-centered partners. Alternatively, even when the partners he attracts are capable of being supportive, he will keep himself disconnected from them to prevent being abandoned.
These examples are only two of many possible versions of painful stories that our unconscious mind shows us by having us play them out in dating. This process becomes more complicated when played out in relationships, where couples create more complicated, intertwined stories with each other.
Are we doomed then to constantly repeat our unconscious patterns, without being able to control what unfolds in our relationships? The answer is a resounding no! Thankfully there is a way to work with the unconscious mind to create healthy, happy relationship experiences.
The first step in getting a handle on your relationship patterns is to uncover them and hear the stories your unconscious mind has been trying to tell you. You will have to be a bit of a detective, stepping back and looking at your relationships from a bird’s eye view. To help clients with this I created the 4-step process for uncovering relationship patterns.
4 Step Process to Uncover Your Relationship Pattern:
1. Think about all your romantic relationships. What did you feel or think about yourself at the end of each one?
Examples from clients:
• I am just not lovable.
• I am too much.
• I just don’t deserve much.
• I will never be loved.
• I will never get what I want.
2. What is similar among your past partners in the way they treated you towards the end of the relationship?
Examples from clients:
- They all cheated on me
- They all stopped wanting me.
- They all told me I am too much/I want too much.
- They all told me I need to change.
- They left the relationship.
3. What is similar among your past partners in terms of their negative traits or habits?
Examples from clients:
- Men who drank too much
- Women who could not handle conflict
- Men who had no tolerance for relationship conversations
- Women who would not commit
4. Fill in the following sentence for each one of your past relationships, including current if applicable:
When I got together with _name_, I thought I was getting _positive traits_. Instead I got _answer from #3_, who ended up _answer from #2_, so that I can again experience the old feeling of _answer from #1_.
When I got together with _Jeff_, I thought I was getting _stability_. Instead I got _a man who could not handle conflict_, who ended up _leaving the relationship_, so that I can again experience the old feeling that _I will never be loved_.
After you do this 4-step process for all of your past relationships, you should be able to discern repeating themes. Your sentences/stories will sound similar. That will be the relationship story your unconscious has been trying to tell, i.e. your relationship pattern.
The next step is to reflect on what you learned, so that your ability to see your own choices in relationships grows. Read your sentences/stories again and again. Think about what it means to you that you keep choosing particular kinds of people, with particular kinds of traits, and keep ending up with similar feelings from your relationships. Reflect on the original pain that your unconscious keeps telling you about and work on a deeper understanding of the events in your life.
In the case of your unconscious mind, self-knowledge is power. If you can see what you have been doing or choosing, you can start to change it. This could be a very large step in the direction of creating the relationship you want!
Some may find this process difficult because their relationship patterns are complicated. If this is the case for you, schedule a Get Clarity Coaching Session and I will help you decipher your own relationship patterns, or the relationship patterns in your couple dynamic