How To Identify Problematic Relationship Patterns and Break the Cycle

Let’s face it: We all have relationship patterns in some shape or form. These patterns are what makes us “us.” They dictate who we pick for our friends and romantic interests, how we interact with them, and how we let them treat us. The issue with these patterns, however, is that they can be both positive and negative. Identifying problematic relationship patterns can be pretty tricky, and many people choose to enroll in one of the best online couples therapy programs to do so. While therapy may be your best option, you can also identify problematic relationship patterns on your own with a bit of work. This article will show you how you can identify negative relationship patterns and break the cycle once and for all!

What are relationship patterns?

To put it simply, a relationship pattern means repeating the same behaviors time after time. They are a sort of social template that we fall back on without even realizing that we are doing so. Relationship patterns can be both good and bad. They influence our social lives and dictate how we treat our friends, colleagues, and romantic interests.

patterned floor representing ways to identify problematic relationship patterns
Relationship patterns can be hard to spot.

With that in mind, it is easy to see how problematic relationship behaviors can get us in trouble. Many people develop mental health issues due to negative relationship patterns and may need to enroll in one of the best online CBT therapy for anxiety programs. To avoid that, you might want to try and understand your particular problematic relationship habits and try to change them sooner rather than later.

However, changing a relationship pattern is easier said than done. To do so, you first must understand how these patterns interact with your life. And to do that, you might want to reflect on the common relationship “archetypes.”

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Common relationship archetypes

While every person might have unique relationship patterns, there are six archetypes that are far more usual than others. To be able to understand your own pattern nuances, you need to understand the common ones first. The most typical archetypes that feature problematic relationship patterns are:

  • The Alpha
  • The Push-Pull
  • The Caregiver
  • The Parent
  • The Codependent

Each archetype has its own kind of person who they get into relationships with, behaviors that they use during the relationship, and how they let themselves be treated in a relationship. However, even if you find yourself within one of these archetypes, that does not mean you can’t change. You can always get in touch with one of the best online CBT therapy companies and enroll in a program that will allow you to change the way you think and act. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. But for now, let’s take a look at these six archetypes.

The Alpha

two people hanging out
If you are the one that always has to be in charge, you might be an Alpha.

We’ve all heard the term “Alpha.” It signifies someone in charge, someone at the top. Being The Alpha in a relationship means that you always want to be in charge and that you get to make all the crucial decisions. Alphas are the first to say “I love you” in a relationship; they are the people who choose where to hang out and where to eat. Figuring out whether you are the Alpha or are in an Alpha relationship is an easy way to identify problematic relationship patterns.

The reason that this particular relationship pattern is problematic is due to the fact that the other person may feel like the Alpha does not listen to their needs.

The Push-Pull

The Push-Pull archetype features constant ups and downs, breakups, and makeup. These are your clingy and needy friends, the ones who are upset when their texts and calls aren’t answered immediately. In a romantic relationship, the push-pull archetype manifests itself when one partner wants to take it slow while the other wants to get serious straight away. As you might imagine, this can be pretty problematic and is one of the prevalent couples therapy causes. While it is possible to find common ground in a push-pull relationship, it is very difficult and requires a lot of time and effort.

The Caregiver

The caregiver is, perhaps, the most common relationship archetype, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. Caregivers always try to “fix” the other person, whether they want it or not. Their patterns include becoming friends and romantic partners who are flawed in a way and trying to solve their problems. This may include helping the other person deal with panic attacks, finding the right job, and even picking out their wardrobe for them. The problem with this archetype is the fact that the relationship usually ends up being one-sided, as well as exhausting.

The Parent

parent/child relationship as a way to identify problematic relationship patterns
The Parent can be quite possessive.

If you happen to feel that you are the “mom” or “dad” of your group or that you think that your romantic partner behaves like a child most of the time, you might fall under The Parent archetype. While this archetype is not inherently “bad,” it can be pretty annoying for the other person to deal with. For example, a person might simply be going through the seven stages of grief, and they do not need someone to “butt in” and try to tell them what to do. Furthermore, people can easily feel that they are being judged or constantly watched when in a relationship with the parent archetype.

This archetype is also present in a professional setting, where the parent might think of the colleague’s successes and failures as their own. This behavior can place undue pressure on the other party, eventually leading to a relationship breakdown.

The codependent

The last usual archetype is The Codependent. This particular archetype occurs when two friends or partners become a “unit,” all but forgoing their individuality. This might happen due to a wish to overcome relationship anxiety or various other reasons. Being codependent with your partner is not necessarily bad, as both partners may benefit from healthy support systems. However, it can also mean that both partners may become utterly reliant on each other for support.

How to identify problematic relationship patterns

a list to help identify problematic relationship patterns
You may want to put some of your thoughts on paper.

Now that we know what problematic relationship patterns might look like, it is time to figure out our own. To do so, you will want to go through the following:

  • Reflecting on your past relationships
  • Creating a “Good vs. Bad” list
  • Looking for common signs of serious relationship problems

It is essential to realize that your problematic relationship patterns might not look anything like those in the archetypes. Every person is unique and has their own quirks and ways of doing things. Similar to how there are different types of depression, there are many different relationship patterns that might influence your life. Identifying them is the first start to breaking the cycle.

Reflecting on the past

You will first want to take some time to look back on your friendship and dating history. Make a list of all your friends and dates, noting their physical and mental characteristics. As you are writing the list, you will see some patterns emerge. You may find that you always go for a particular hairstyle, for example.

Do notice that, at this point, you are not looking to identify problematic relationship patterns; you are simply identifying patterns. Some patterns might be good for you, and you may not want to get rid of them. That is why the next step is all about finding which patterns you want to change and which patterns you want to keep.

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The “Good vs. Bad” list

Once you recognize a specific pattern, you will want to analyze it further. What you are primarily looking at is whether the pattern is inherently wrong or whether it is connected to something else that you think is bad.

For example, let’s say that you find that you are attracted to people who behave in a certain way. You may find out that the traits you are attracted to are entirely different than what they may appear at first glance. When analyzing the patterns, ask yourself what it is that makes you repeat them. The best way to break a bad pattern is to recognize it for what it is.

Signs of serious relationship problems

two people arguing
Many relationships struggle with a lack of understanding.

Every relationship has its ups and downs, and that is perfectly normal. However, relationships may also get in trouble if some patterns repeat themselves over and over. Here are some of the issues that you might want to look out for:

  • Keeping secrets from one another
  • Being passive-aggressive
  • Presence of persistent disappointments, resentments, or judgments
  • Raging
  • Name-calling
  • Verbal abuse
  • Controlling behavior
  • Inflexibility
  • Selfishness
  • Parental meddling
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Lack of open communication

It is also worth noting that none of these patterns are non-salvageable. You can easily find affordable online counseling that can help remedy all of the issues given enough time and effort. The online environment is much easier to deal with than having to schedule visits to the therapist’s office. Alternatively, you can try to break the cycle on your own.

Breaking the cycle

While the first step is to identify problematic relationship patterns, you will ultimately want to break the cycle. There are five key steps to breaking the vicious cycle of problematic relationship patterns. They are:

  1. Forgiveness
  2. Understanding
  3. Recognition
  4. Clarification
  5. Moving on

Bad relationship patterns are not accidental. They all have their reasons for being there, and it is up to you to change them to your liking. You may also end up thinking that this is just the way you are and that there is nothing you can do to change it. That is why the first step is always to forgive yourself.

Forgive yourself

two people hugging each other
Forgive yourself, and others will do the same.

It is easy to blame yourself for having problematic relationship patterns. You may think that you simply do not deserve anything better and that something is wrong with you. But the fact of the matter is that these patterns are not your fault, not entirely, at the very least. You see, our subconsciousness governs much of what we do, and it is really hard to go against it. Hard, but not impossible.

That is why the first thing you need to do is forgive yourself. You want to change your ways, which is all that matters now. Do not wallow in past mistakes but take a step forward, free of guilt and regret, by learning how to forgive yourself. Once you do so, breaking the cycle will become much easier.

Understand where the patterns come from

After forgiving yourself and starting to identify problematic relationship patterns, it is essential to understand why these patterns formed in the first place. To do this, you will want to take a look at your past relationships and start analyzing them. After a while, you will start to notice telltale signs, behaviors, and triggers. These are what ultimately create relationship patterns.

Most of us enter into new relationships because they are already familiar to us. We dive headfirst into them as they feel like a story we know all too well. But when that story is not a good one, it is time to change it. By understanding how your relationship patterns are created in the first place and where they come from, you will be able to break them.

Recognize the early warning signs

Every pattern has its warning sign. However, identifying the warning signs can be quite difficult, especially if you are not looking hard. But they are always there. What you may want to do is try and discern the warning signs from all other relationship “noise.” Once you manage to do so, you will never be “trapped” in a negative relationship again.

Clarify how you want to feel

If you want to truly break the cycle of bad relationships, you need to figure out what it is that you truly want. Do not focus on material things such as a person’s looks or their job. What you want to do instead is focus on the feeling you get from the relationships. More specifically, focus on what you want to be feeling. Once you understand that, it will become rather easy to break the cycle of bad relationships, as you will know precisely what you are looking for.

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Move on

Lastly, you need to understand that relationships are inherently a hit-or-miss prospect. Do not be afraid to get into new relationships, even if all your experiences have been terrible up until now. What you want to do is identify problematic relationship patterns and work on correcting them. The most critical step is always the next one. And if you want to hasten the process, you can always attend online therapy sessions. You can find all the best therapy companies right here, at the Consumer Opinion Guide. We are here to help you be the best you can be!

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