Your relationship is on-and-off repeatedly. Pull, push. Push, pull. You’re magnetically attracted to someone who makes you feel amazing and suddenly rejects you. And let me guess: you’ve been through this before.
They seem to be chasing you, and all of a sudden you start getting mixed signals. The more you push, the more they pull away — and the pulling away usually happens when things seem to be going extremely well.
There’s a reason why this dynamic never ends. Unknowingly, both parties contribute to the dynamic, unaware of their own behaviors that drive the cycle — because both share the same fears.
Yes, you read that right. The friction in your relationship is not just your partner’s fault. It’s your fault too, and if you want to break the cycle, you have to be willing to look at yourself in the mirror and acknowledge what’s inside you that keeps not only attracting but feeding this type of relationship.
I used to be just like you. I attracted unhealthy, unstable relationships that would prove to me what I already knew: that I was unworthy of love.
But I broke the cycle, and you can break it too.
The Fears You Both Share
In a push-pull relationship, both parties are terrified of two things: intimacy and abandonment. You believe intimacy is what leads to abandonment, so you go into protection mode and you put up a wall to keep yourselves safe.
You fear abandonment because you’ve experienced it before, either in your childhood or in a previous relationship.
When the root problem is a romantic relationship from the past, it’s easier to recognize it, but when it has to do with your childhood and your relationship with your parents, it can take some time. Usually, everything is connected.
In your subconscious mind, love, and vulnerability equal to pain, loss, and suffering. So why would you want to go through that again?
The thing is, deep inside you, you know you’re seeking the very love you’re afraid of getting.
It’s a paradox: you’re desperate to love and to be loved, but as much as you crave love and intimacy, you’re also terrified of it.
Why We Accept The Love We Think We Deserve
Neither of you really wants out of your turbulent relationship because it matches your beliefs about love and relationships.
Think about it. For the cycle to last, both parties need to be involved and play their role. An emotionally healthy, stable person wouldn’t put up with that kind of behavior long-term.
We attract our partners based on how emotionally healthy or unhealthy we are. If we’re afraid of intimacy and abandonment, we’ll attract people who manifest the same qualities.
If we don’t believe we’re worthy of love, we’ll attract people who also believe they’re unlovable and who feel the same way about us. Their behavior will prove us right and reinforce how we think and feel about ourselves.
This means that you settle for people who treat you poorly because you don’t think you deserve better. You don’t believe you deserve the real, deep, true love that your soul is looking for. You don’t believe you’re worthy of a relationship that meets your emotional needs.
You hold onto the crumbs they throw here and there because you believe that’s all you’ll ever get.
The Key Is To Change The Beliefs You’re Holding
We’re the result of our own experiences. The environment we grow up in shapes us and creates our beliefs.
Many of us have gone through childhood trauma that we’re unaware of. Trauma isn’t necessarily physical or sexual abuse. There can be “small traumas” that influence many spheres of our life because as children, we see and absorb things differently.
Our relationship with our parents lays the foundations for how we navigate relationships as adults. If that relationship was unstable and caused us anxiety, then we’ll likely see love as something rocky and unsteady.
Situations like being abandoned at birth, having an absent parent or living in a conflicting environment can leave deep psychological scars. If there were moments we didn’t get love as children, we’ll carry the belief that we’re unlovable, and we’ll replicate that belief in other relationships.
The only way to break the cycle of an unhealthy relationship is to change your relationship with yourself.
You have to treat the root of the problem. You have to be brave enough to look yourself in the mirror and:
1. Identify the beliefs you’ve been carrying.
I’m not going to lie. It’s going to hurt. Being honest with ourselves about our past brings a lot of emotions to the surface, but it’s the only way to heal.
Some common beliefs are:
I’m broken. I’ll never find love again.
There must be something wrong with me.
I can’t open up because it’s dangerous to love and to be vulnerable.
I’m not good enough to receive love.
2. Replace the old beliefs with beliefs that serve you.
This is the time to start filling in those holes within our hearts with some positive affirmations and empowering self-talk. Tell yourself:
I am worthy of love.
I only attract healthy, loving relationships.
Love is not painful. Love is kind.
I deserve to be adored and respected.
I open my heart to love and I know that I deserve it.
3. Cultivate positive beliefs.
The negative beliefs will still come up sometimes, and that’s perfectly normal. The key is to accept them and recognize them for what they are: emotional wounds, reminders of your resilience. Don’t judge them.
Instead, cultivate the positive beliefs. Say them to yourself every day. Do it when you’re walking, when you’re driving, when you’re meditating. Do it until you can actually feel them and believe in them.
This way you’re rewiring your brain. It may be uncomfortable going through this process at first, but freeing yourself from these negative, limiting beliefs is well worth any temporary discomfort.
This was how I broke the cycle. I gave myself space and the time to do the inner work and to heal my wounds.
When I started to believe that I deserved love, I found it.
Remind yourself: if you won’t accept anything less, you won’t get any less. We teach people how to treat us.
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Photo courtesy Unsplash.
Previously published on Medium.