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Know Your Worth: Dating Dysfunction

by on June 29, 2018 3:27 PM

If you consistently experience drama and dysfunction in your relationships, the key to healing may not lie in changing your behavior. Rather, the key to unlocking dysfunctional behavior patterns lies in your childhood. 

Cliché but true, all roads lead to childhood and your experiences with your parents and siblings. As humans we organize our thinking and behavior in patterns; we develop a familiarity with specific family dynamics and that becomes a template for the patterns of our relationships.

For example, if you grew up in a home with a difficult, emotionally unavailable parent, you may have unconsciously picked up the pattern of people-pleasing in an attempt to engage the aloof parent. This would manifest in your adult relationships with you being fearful of any kind of conflict. To avoid pain, you will silence your thoughts and feelings to accommodate other people at the expense of your own peace of mind.

As a people-pleaser, you will unconsciously be drawn and attracted to difficult romantic partners because that dynamic is a familiar pattern.
If you grew up in a home with a parent who suffered from addiction or mood swings, you may have learned to cope by becoming quiet and invisible. This would protect you from having to engage with an unstable and emotionally volatile parent.  

As an adult you may find that you attract these same types of people romantically, because you know how to survive the dysfunction. You also may find that the silent passivity you developed as a child to protect yourself is the same behavior that sabotages a healthy, open relationship.

If you find yourself extremely attracted to someone and the chemistry feels magnetic, it may not always mean you have found your soul mate. More often than not, this feeling means you are around someone who reminds you of the parent with whom you experienced the most conflict. The chemistry feels amazing because, intuitively, you know the personality of the person and the dance is familiar from your childhood – you could do the dance blindfolded because the steps are part of what you downloaded as a relationship pattern in your childhood.

The key to healing dysfunctional patterns and gaining insight into your behavior is awareness. Be aware of what your drug of choice is. Do you attract narcissists, cold non-communicative personalities, high-maintenance energy vampires, or charming Hollywood types? Whatever you keep attracting is rooted in your family dynamics. As soon as you become aware of your pattern, you begin to change the pattern.

Another key to healing is compassion for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for making bad choices in love; recognize that you are capable of making healthy choices and attracting a stable healthy partner.

Practice awareness on dates and begin to get a sense of what type of person you are drawn to. Once you know your trigger, you can begin the process of healing and emotional freedom.

You are worth it!



Meghan Fritz is a psychotherapist at Sunpointe Health in State College.
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