This article is directed towards those of you who continually move in and out of unsuccessful relationships. Have you at any time wondered if you are the cause of your failed relationships?

The good news is that it’s not you. The underpinning factor is that you may be attracted to the same personality profile again and again, which yields the same disappointing results. So in essence, it’s like you are re-engaging with your ex(s) over and over. Even worse, you are unaware of this. The attraction is mysterious but undeniable. You are faced with the same problems every day, but feel helpless to do anything about them. You intellectually process what is going on, and promise yourself you will not get involved in another unhealthy relationship. Then it happens again.

The uncomfortable reality is that your present is controlled by your past.

Why is your present controlled by your past?

People who enter into dysfunctional relationships tend to have parents who were emotionally absent and/or highly critical of them when they were children. Such parents either neglected you, and/or made you believe that nothing you did was ever good enough. As a result, your self-confidence borders on non-existent, and this carries forward with you in your life. When the opportunity comes to step out on your own, you may become successful, and you may receive more praise than you can handle. Friends and colleagues compliment you constantly on your physical, personal, and/or intellectual characteristics. But the external praises cannot override the internal lack of self-confidence, so you constantly seek more validation from others.

When it comes to romantic relationships, you get involved with people who you hope will fill the confidence void within, but as per your parents, they are not equipped or inclined to do so. You always end up in second place, or worse, and so you work even harder with the aim to eventually get the response of love you are looking for. Unconsciously, you will never be satisfied until you obtain your partner’s approval, and you remain entrenched in a self-destructive cycle of behaviour that lacks self-respect.

What the person caught up in this pattern does not realise is that love should come naturally and spontaneously with minimal effort. You should be loved for who you are, full stop. Trying to extract it from someone else is an exercise in futility. Yet the child within you continues to try and elicit love from individuals who are incapable of giving it.

Upon wondering why you pursue partners who are unable to help you exorcise the demons from your past, you realise that the cause of those demons, ie, the way you were raised as a child, is something you are unable to do anything about. On the other hand, you intellectually realise that you can choose the person you date, the person you aspire to stay with, and the person you choose to be romantic with. This is confusing, because all this adds up to is the fact that you continue to make choices based on your dysfunctional childhood. The truth is, that you are programmed to concede to this maddening scenario as the only way you will ever receive love and be treated. You believe that this is all you deserve.

Step back and realise that the primary love given to us as a child came from our parents. It is normal and natural for the love we have for our parents to be the dominating force throughout our lives. Yet if that particular love is distorted because of isolation, pain, and perceived rejection, the future holds us bound to a search for that kind of love.

Your approach is to treat the pain intellectually. Go back and count the people you dated, and those who you thought were capable of loving you if only you would do or say the right thing. Have you noticed that those people had bigger and more difficult problems than you? In fact, your pattern has been to care for, and ‘fix’ other people, when all that time you spent should have been concentrated on repairing and taking care of yourself.

You assume the rescuer role, even when it means you will sacrifice your own contentment and happiness in pursuit of the quest.

Pursue your dream relationship: Unravel the destructive pattern, and your future will undoubtedly be brighter

Upon dreaming of dating people you admire, people you sincerely want to be with, and people who support your endeavours and your happiness, you reflect on your past and wonder how it would feel if you were in control of determining your future, rather than your past influencing your life.

It’s possible to have that dream become a reality by breaking the existing cycles and patterns. You can change your perspective on potential partners, and materialise that dream into a reality, where you achieve romantic success, and are empowered instead of being rejected.

The source of power to release yourself from the past lies within you. It is in this space wherein you can free yourself from choosing unhealthy relationships, and the past that has shackled you for all your life. What is required of you is to admit to the problem, stop living in denial, and bravely confront the issues you have avoided all these years.

Now is the time to set aside your fears as well as pride, and begin seeking the professional help you need to reach your goal of personal freedom. This part of the process involves opening yourself up to challenging the negative beliefs you have held on to for so many years, the beliefs that have driven you to unconsciously seek out self-destructive relationships.

There is a silver lining to the cloud

A qualified professional can help loosen the ties that bind you to your core beliefs that are at the heart of the destructive behaviour patterns. Clinical Psychologists are especially trained to manage these problems. A common core belief relates to the fear of being abandoned, which leads you to accept any number of abusive dynamics (physical, emotional), because you instinctively believe that you’re the cause of being unloved. You believe that if you continue to try and ‘improve yourself’, you can change the other person into treating you as worthy of being loved. Leaving the relationship doesn’t seem like an option because you believe that this situation is the best you can achieve.

Treasure the person who you deserve

Despite having been in several unhealthy relationships, you can find your way out of the seemingly endless cycle by simply believing in yourself. You can be the priority, and you will find unconditional validation and approval from the right person. You have the power to rid yourself of your own insecurities.

The most important thing you must remember is to never give up! The genuinely good people you are seeking out there are, like you, looking for the same support and genuine love that you are. They are up against similar challenges, fears, and doubts in their search for a healthy relationship. Giving up eliminates all possibilities of finding anyone right for you.

When you finally arrive at your destination of meeting a wonderful and compatible person, it will be a far more rewarding experience than you ever imagined. Cherish one another with kindness, generosity, and even a romantic gift every now and then, because you both have gone through so much to arrive at this point.

Your patience and perseverance will allow you to reap the rewards of your efforts, and when you do actually find that suitable partner, you can click here to read my article on how to do all the right things that will help preserve this relationship well into the future. This particular article is predominantly aimed at men, but it contains many useful tips for both men and women who want to do everything in their power to look after the beautiful relationship they have finally found.

I would love to hear your comments or answer any questions you might have about this post.

Yours sincerely,   


Dr. Carissa Coulston, Clinical Psychologist

BSc(Hons), MPsychol(Clinical), PhD, MAPS