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Sound-Off: How to Break Bad Dating Patterns

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New people come and go. You make new friends. You go out on different dates. But the common denominator in all those situations is the individual... and that's you.

It's easy to point to outside factors as being the reason why a relationship failed, like maybe he cheated or she was irrational. But if every guy you date turns out to be an abusive bad boy and every girl you romance is a clingy, possessive crazy woman, maybe it's you setting yourself up for dating failure...

Our relationship results come down to the choices we make. And if you're making the same choice over and over while expecting a different result, you don't have to be Einstein to know you're headed toward relationship insanity.

If you're wondering if you're the reason why you can't find romantic success, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you have a mostly negative perception of dating and relationships?

2. In your last three relationships, were the problems that led to the break up similar (i.e., he was abusive; she cheated on you, etc.)?

3. Is there a pattern in who you date, like all your significant others are of a certain type?

4. When you get what you say you want in a relationship, do you still find yourself uncomfortable or unhappy despite this?

If you answered yes to three or more, you may be repeating destructive and self-defeating dating behavior.

It's important to pinpoint when we might be getting in our own way of happiness. After all, if you aren't satisfied with yourself, it will be difficult to find that happiness in the arms of others.

According to Psychology Today, nearly 20 percent of all people are negatively impacted by pathological issues. That's a lot of people. There's a good chance that your emotional graveyard of failed relationships is tied to some internal turmoil or trauma.

Often the choices we make are colored by many factors, the biggest stemming from what our parents' relationships were like. Often those who are raised with a parent who is inconsistent or sustains complicated and difficult relationships, we will repeat and act out those same destructive patterns in our own relationships simply because that's what we're used to.

Other times it's a matter of self-worth. Often we pursue relationships that are doomed for failure because we believe we don't deserve them. This usually happens when someone has a history of trust issues. Even when a relationship is going well, they are constantly looking for signs of cheating and turmoil, anticipating the worst. And it doesn't matter if there is no evidence. Instead of enjoying the relationship, they spend all their time waiting for their suspicions to be proven correct. This behavior has a profoundly negative affect, driving away those most likely to be faithful and make good mates.

There is a way out of the bad love merry-go-round. If you recognize that your dating disasters are due to internal issues, seek help. Talk to a friend, relative, therapist or counselor. Seek someone who can work with you to find internal peace in order to create happy external relationships.

By having someone help you through this you can develop a plan and your partner can hold you accountable to sticking to it. Also, if you've had back-to-back relationships, sometimes it may be helpful to take a break from dating to check in with yourself and build esteem.

Taking some time off, working with a friend or therapist to develop a plan, writing that plan down and following through, could be the first great steps to building a better you, and, in return, creating better relationships.
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