Are you entangled in jealousy, manipulation or betrayal?
Patterns in Love Relationships
Do you enjoy loving your love partner? Seemingly
paradoxically, for many people love is a source of pain rather than bliss. There
is no other adult relationship in which the depth and strength of our needs,
imprints and beliefs from childhood becomes so obvious and so strong, so
persistent and so overwhelming, so resistant to both willpower and to rational
points of view.
The explanation is in understanding that a big part of what we
call loving feelings is nothing but surfacing of the deepest, earliest memories
which are the foundation of unresolved inner conflict. We go through our lives
constantly seeking for resolution of those conflicts, even if unconsciously.
Perhaps you will recognize that there are particular types of
personality and behaviors that you feel attracted to, even if they are
problematic. Perhaps outer circumstances and behavior will not be directly
similar between your different partners through life, but you can recognize the
patterns repeating in the way you feel inside and in the development of
relationship. Love relationships are the key triggers of our toxic patterns, as
well as the most important opportunity for healing.
When Love is Infatuation
In the experience that we call love (or, more precisely,
infatuation), our healthy enjoyment and appreciation of other human being is
mixed with transferences and bonds. There are usually three common types of
First are our subconscious hopes and needs from childhood,
which can make us prone to idealize the other person, just as we once idealized
our parents when we were children, hoping for happy, warm relationships which
would give us security, protection and a sense of self-worth. Remember the
feelings of hope and elation in first stages of love; the completely irrational
feeling that you've finally found the person who can fulfill your deep needs and
enable you to feel accepted, loved and valuable. If you explore what details in
the appearance and behavior of the other trigger that flood of emotions, you
might be able to recognize a pattern and perhaps connect it to memories
from your earliest years.
When Love is Parental
The second way of bonding is through trying to heal our toxic,
unpleasant ideas about ourselves, while trying to get love in similar
circumstances in which those ideas were created. Unconsciously, we are attracted
to a similar atmosphere that our parents created within our first family, the
consequences of which were never completely resolved within our subconscious.
The child in us hopes to resolve the confusion and inner conflicts from past,
searching for person to love who would replace the parent(s).
Same as, in the earliest years, we judged ourselves according
to reactions of our environment, in the same way as a child is sensitive to
every signal from parents, to their expressions of feelings towards him, trying
to understand what is acceptable and expected, adapting to even painful and
confusing expectations, in the same way we often feel in initial, and sometimes
even later stages of love relationships.
You can see many people who are otherwise smart, confident
and able to distinguish unhealthy and unbalanced behavior, suddenly becoming
aware of every their word or move, anxiously trying to anticipate attitudes
and expectations of the single other person, starting to feel like their
human value, fulfillment and future happiness depends of a person who they
don't even know well enough.
Remember the feelings of irrational confusion, pain and
reviewing your behavior because of some tiny little detail your beloved said or
did, and you will have the information about how you felt as a child toward your
parents. I'm not saying that children feel like that in every moment and every
age, some children are more naturally sensitive than others too, but keep in
mind that there is a source for all of your emotions, and the source of many
irrational emotions is in our irrational years of life.
Many times we can't recognize or remember how sensitive we
were as children to our parents behavior, how dependent of the, how much we
needed their love, approval and acceptance. These feelings are normally long
forgotten, because they happened in an age in which sense of individual
identity, conscious memory and awareness, not to mention rational thinking, were
not yet developed.
The more we grow up, the more realistic our perception of
world (hopefully) is, so it's more difficult to be overwhelmed with illusionary
hopes and expectations in adulthood than, for example, adolescence. Still, in
the right circumstances, if right triggers come together, the child parts of us
wake up quickly and even mature people can find themselves overwhelmed with long
When Love is "What was Normal"
The third type of bond is being attracted to behavior
and emotional atmosphere that we learned to accept as normal and even „loving“
in our first family, even if painful. The most obvious examples are abusive
relationships. People who repeatedly enter abusive relationships, will often
tell you that they perceive healthy relationship as not passionate, not
emotional enough. It comes down to what we feel „at home“ with.
Some children, depending of their constitution and temper,
within a particular type of family – often surrounded with exceptional and
uninhibited violence and unfairness, but still having other people around who
are models of healthy and loving behavior – might be able to recognize in quite
an early age that violent behavior is not some strange way to love, or anything
that can be justified with the child's doing. Such people might start their
search for partner with a strong decision to find a person healthier and more
mature than the parent(s), and they can be successful to some extent. Still,
patterns created in the earliest age, before the child was able to develop a
perspective, or even to feel an identity separate of parents, will still be
there, although maybe showing in very subtle ways.
Case Example "Cheri"
An example is Cheri, who grew up in a rather unhealthy
family, but with a strong decision to choose a partner different to her
aggressive, manipulative and narrow-minded father. She chose a man who appeared
calm, gentle, wise and thoughtful. But with years of marriage, it became more
and more obvious that the gentle and sensitive appearance of her husband was
hiding a cluster of suppressed emotions based on deep guilt and shame from
Because of those feelings, her husband was inclined to
emotional closeness and withdrawal, unable to enjoy intimacy or clear
communication, and passive-aggressive in situations of conflict or
misunderstanding. So Cheri, even if she could recognize and avoid an openly
abusive relationship, realized that she found herself in a relationship that
reflected her feelings from childhood, although in a subtler way: her loneliness
and sense of being unvalued and unaccepted, lack of intimacy and warmth.
Just like Cheri, many people have told us that they
couldn't recognize any similarities of their partner with their parents, not
only in the beginning of the relationship, but during the first few years. Some
people can control and suppress their unhealthy patterns for a long time ... as
long as it takes for a relationship to develop routine, daily stress, careless
communication and taking one another for granted. But once those patterns
emerge, we can, almost without exception, recognize behaviors that hurt us
spoiled me and gave me everything I wanted. I couldn't see how my painful and
abusive partnership could be connected to them ... yet I remember telling my
partner, "The only people who ever hurt me so much were you and my father!" Rijeka, Croatia
It seems that we all carry a deep unconscious sensitivity to
subtle, almost invisible, signals that trigger feelings of familiarity and
intimacy ... even if all the outer, more obvious signals indicate the opposite.
This is probably the cause of the fact that, out of many people we meet, only
rarely will somebody trigger intense feelings of infatuation.
It's rare that there is a combination of potential
partner's qualities that we consciously desire and appreciate, behaviors which
trigger the hope that our deepest longings can be fulfilled, but also the tiny
and almost invisible signals that some patterns complementary to ours, can
trigger emotional problems to surface.
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