Escaping the vicious circle of relationship failure
Tom fell for Maria, sweet but quite depressive. It didn’t work out... Jan’s got the dream job – she’s bright and sexy but men run a mile. Cathy’s just ended a relationship that was just too suffocating... What do they all have in common? Painful break-ups with the feeling of getting involved in a relationship doomed to fail despite themselves.
Do you find that your relationships generally end badly... no matter how hard you work at them? Okay, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out of the vicious circle of bad relationships. Renowned French clinical psychologist Maryse Vaillant gives us some tips...
Eyes open for the vicious circle clues...
Each time you meet someone new, you start thinking, “This time, I’ve definitely met the right one!” But what is really going on behind this blinding optimism?
“Our romantic relationships rely extensively on the fantasy and desires we project onto the relationship,” explains psychologist Maryse Vaillant, author of the book "La répétition amoureuse" [repetitive love] (Ed. Albin Michel). And rightly so, we don’t know who the right person is until we actually get to know them! “We respond to a type of subconscious thought process which actually works against us,” she adds.
In fact, we are attracted to the signs of a certain type of relationship, more than the actual person. Repetitive relationships reproduce an age-old scenario, often within us since childhood and well known to our subconscious.
Our subconscious fears the unknown; thus it pushes us to repeat the same behaviour, including failure. From this comes the feeling of eternally starting (and ending!) the same relationship with outwardly different partners.
Recurring relationship profiles
Victims of repetitive relationships are too quick to self-catalogue themselves as being ‘unlucky in love’. “In reality, these are often people who were not given the love and attention they needed during their childhoods,” explains Vaillant.
Rejected, manipulated or smothered, they will reproduce the same scenario despite themselves, simply because it’s the only way they know how to show love. Such people often lack of knowledge of other emotional opportunities and scenarios.
The quest for love essentially revolves around ideas of ‘Prince Charming’, fragile woman-strong man, love as salvation, the child redeemed or the perfect couple... all concepts that are basically doomed to failure.
The only rule that really applies in love is to accept someone for who they are, and not a fantasy that tries to imprison them into the concept you have of them.
Become aware of your repetitive behaviour
Getting hooked on suffering is more frequent than you may think.
“There are such things we call secondary benefits to being the victim,” explains Vaillant. Giving these up is more difficult than you may imagine. Subconsciously, you take satisfaction from suffering and being pitied, rather than trying to pull yourself away from the damaging attraction of the past. Especially when you’ve built your identity around beliefs that “all men (women) are manipulative” or “I’ve never had any luck”.
To put an end to this vicious circle, you need to first be aware of your repetitive relationships and make the choice to move away from them. This takes time and concerted effort. “Give yourself the time necessary to learn lessons from each relationship... and grow as a result,” advises Vaillant.
All that being said, if your childhood emotional background was particularly difficult, don’t hesitate to get some professional help... it’s never too late to love.
Copyright © 2010 Doctissimo
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