“We tend to gravitate towards what we know best. As a result, individuals who have been exposed to disappointing relationships in the past may have learned patterns of behaviour that cause them to invite such relationships into their lives at a later stage,” explains clinical psychologist Sherona Rawat.

This may stem from a damaging relationships with parents, past abusive romantic relationships or poor self-esteem.

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Identifying a pattern

Often when you’re emotionally invested in a relationship, it’s hard to identify or acknowledge that you may be repeating past mistakes. Rawat points out the following signs that you’re repeating negative relationship habits:

  • Your relationships are short-lived.
  • You experience problems initiating and sustaining long-term relationships.
  • You feel dissatisfied and unhappy when in a relationship.
  • You feel misunderstood and/or unloved most of the time.
  • You long for fulfilling relationships, but believe that you will never be able to enjoy one.

Admitting that you do often find yourself in unfulfilling relationships offers the chance to break the cycle and find someone who makes you feel good about yourself.

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Break damaging relationship patterns

If you feel like you still can’t break the cycle of negative relationships, it’s time for some introspection. “Seek professional assistance, as resolving negative relational patterns can be very complicated because of the likelihood of there being significant psychological underlying issues,” advises Rawat.

Therapy helps you identify underlying emotional issues or traumatic events that may have resulted in psychological issues. By identifying these issues, your therapist can help you to make an active effort to change by adopting and implementing new productive behaviour patterns, while monitoring your progress.