Jinxed in relationships

If you find yourself in one disastrous relationship after another, it could be a pattern. Here's how to identify and break the loop

Think about your love life:

Do you find yourself lurching from one bad relationship to another? They start off well, but hit a snag and again you find yourself left feeling angry, disappointed and hurt. The people are different, but the script is the same and there is no happy ending. If this sounds familiar, ask yourself if you have inadvertently slipped into a bad relationship pattern.

Clinical psychologist Varkha Chulani defines a relationship pattern as a set of negative events that repeats in your relationship(s) regularly. For example, if you are a single, you constantly attract unavailable men/women. They may seem interested in a relationship, but within a short time turn out to be unavailable.

Identify the pattern
Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty says, "We develop our beliefs and fears by observing our parents' relationships as children and how they treated us." Those unhealthy beliefs shape our adult behaviour.

Environmental learning (that one should play games, give in to the chase, or should be chased) fuels the problem. These beliefs cause us to choose people who treat us in ways that make us feel bad, which reinforces these negative feelings and doubts. It can make us believe that we're doomed to be alone or unhappy in relationships.

A pattern develops when, after the first failed relationship, one does not analyse the emotions, needs and traps involved. Seek a mirror - a sensitive friend, counsellor or a close relative. Break down the relationships into chunks and analyse them threadbare. Getting an emotional arbitrator is the best solution. Self-analysis can be dangerous.

When analysing, reflect on the childhood, coping mechanisms, kinks of the person. Take note of how the relationship began, what was the objective, did the relationship begin on an equal footing. The questions to be addressed are:

- Is respect and trust more important than love?

- Is there openness and acceptance that there will be difficulties and you can't change your partner completely?

- Are the needs of one person more than the other?

- Is there abuse and exploitation (emotional or physical), blackmailing, provocation or guilt?

Don't target the other person as the problem; defensive denial and a projection of the other person as the villain will not help. Take the responsibility for the relationship. When you stop playing the blame game (which is a way of distracting yourself from what you are really feeling - lonely, insecure, unaccepted, unappreciated, etc), and gain insight into how you chose the people who bring more of what you don't want into your life, you are able to do better next time.

Cause and effect
Low self-esteem could be one of the reasons you find yourself in the bad relationship loop. Do you sell yourself short, or end up with partners who are not up to the mark? Are you compromising because you think you're not going to get better? Desperation and neediness could drive you to settle. Low self-esteem is the result of genes and faulty learning from society. A faulty relationship belief system perpetuates our poor relationship choices.

Do you worry that:

- You're unlovable?

- No one would love you if they really knew you?

- You'll eventually be rejected?

- You don't deserve love?

- You're cursed?

- You're not attractive enough?

- You're not thin enough?

- You're not smart enough?

- You don't make enough money?

- You're boring?

- You don't deserve respect?

If the answer is 'Yes' to more than one of these questions, spend some time learning to accept and love yourself. If you're in agony, do not enter a new relationship. There should ideally be a gap of six months to a year after a break up.

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