Mistakes in Relationships: Why Do We Repeat Them?

5 minutes Written by Mara Fisher

Understanding Mistakes in Relationships

You begged forgiveness, received it, then turned around and repeated the same behavior. Maybe you have ended an unhealthy relationship only to cave in and go back multiple times. Perhaps you meet a new person and soon you are right back where you were with the old relationship. We’ve all seen this in other people, the friend who always chooses aloof, unavailable men. The man who always chooses women who cheat on him. And then there’s our own repetitive behavior. Understanding the whys behind behavior is one thing, it is the first step, the glimpse, the aha moment. But implementing change, breaking those patterns, choosing a new way of being, is very different. It requires more than awareness, positive action, stopping yourself in your tracks, and then choosing an entirely different response. Insight without action is knowing you must get healthy, lose weight, lower your cholesterol, yet continuing to eat McDonalds daily.

Why We Repeat The Same Mistakes In Relationships

Knowledge and wisdom can only set you free when you take its advice. Following through on the understanding you have acquired takes awareness, patience, practice, and perseverance. Be easy on yourself, because from your toddler days onward, your brain creates neuro pathways for when you are rewarded (did something right) and for when you are punished (did something wrong). In other words, as much as we learn good habits, we learn bad ones as well. And habits are challenging to break, ask anyone who has ever tried to give up something, be it sugar, pornography, or self-deprecation.

Breaking The Pattern

Gaining understanding about the choices you made in your past is not enough, in fact, reminding yourself of mistakes can cause the brain to go back to that very pattern. It is more important to look at your desired destination, and head in that direction. If you know that you want a partner who communicates, when you start falling for a guy/girl who is tied up in knots, remind yourself that you desire a partner who can express their feelings.

Be honest with yourself about what is acceptable and what is not. It’s okay to say, I really like this about you, but I can’t live with that. It is okay to set standards. In fact, these standards may help you avoid mistakes in relationships. If you have been with chronic liars, when you meet someone who falls into this category, recognize the signs and do something about it. It has been said you can’t think your way into better living, you can live your way into better thinking. In other words, go against your patterns on purpose. Change comes from making different choices. 

Remember how far you have come with the positive choices you have made, and more likely than not, there’s more of these than you realize. Feeling defeated or beating yourself up, doesn’t help you remove obstacles to change. Empower yourself by recalling your inner strength as a mother, a husband, a friend. Reinforce your good habits, pay attention to your feelings, your body, and what makes you feel good about yourself.

Letting Go

Let go of old stories that were scripted by people who do not understand your growth and expansion as a human being. Step over these assumptions and move in the direction you see for yourself. For example, you start seeing a new person and you are smitten, however there are signs that point to paths you’ve already traveled. He/she is over critical, demanding, or passive aggressive and you don’t want to take that same journey again. Make the choice (even if it is uncomfortable) to say no. Move on. The more you do this, the more you will realize you have let go of those old patterns. You are now a different person, able to act on what you have learned.

Be humble and admit to your negative patterns. There is nothing more liberating than admitting that you have come to a faulty conclusion, because you acted out of emotions linked to a past event. You free yourself of defensiveness, blame, shame, and welcome in a freedom that will serve you in making future choices. The more you’re able to admit your humanity the more you will say yes to honesty and be consistent to what you want. It is exhausting searching for excuses for bad behavior, it is liberating to admit mistakes, misunderstandings, and then to move forward.

Moving Forward & Avoiding Mistakes In Relationships

Repeating mistakes in relationships is not fatal. It is something you can change; it is something you can forgive yourself for. Then love yourself for all that you are, be present, do things that make you fulfilled and confident. Say yes to your intuition, your ambitions and passions, and watch as your life unfolds, and the mistakes fall to the back of the line as distant memories. Love who you are at each phase, keep learning, give and receive compassion, knowing that you are not stuck, that you are capable of change and living a life that is informed by the lessons of the mistakes you once made.

Avatar Mara Fisher

Written by Mara Fisher

Mara Fisher is a therapist in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Texas who specializes in couples, group and individual therapy.