Do you think your your relationship is like your parent’s?
When we’re young we never think we’ll turn into our parents. They seem aged, behind the times, overly concerned with things that don’t matter, or they’re constantly doing things that are difficult to understand. As we grow up however, a lot of the mystery and sometimes the annoyance can begin to fade, as it dawns on us what they were trying to teach us or protect us from. This being said, it’s truly unbelievable how many people are unaware of the parental legacies they’re bringing daily into their relationships.
Your own habits and responses
Our behaviours are largely learned extremely early in life and we grow accustomed to them as we age. Those around us get used to them as well and we each of us learn to navigate the character traits or social quirks that make us who we are. As easy and fluid as this reads in black and white, the issue is that sometimes the habits we spend our lives dancing around aren’t ones that actually belong to us. Unwittingly, most of us are doing an amazing job of unconsciously replaying history, whilst we do an amazing job of consciously trying to be kind or considerate to those we share our lives with.
In the same way you learned to eat by observing your father with his own knife and fork, or how you learned to talk by mimicking your mother, you would also have picked up other, both subtler and more obvious cues.
Take a minute here to think back.
Think about how either of your parents responded to being challenged, how expressive they were emotionally, how well they tolerated certain situations. Do you see any parallels in your own life, any direct similarities or even overcompensation in the opposite direction?
The key to really working with your learned behaviours is self awareness. Whether you’re happy with who you are or not, spotting patterns and echoes will keep you able to adapt and change as your life and relationships with others develop.
Your partner’s habits
Without pretending to be an amateur psychiatrist, it’s incredibly insightful to be able to spot the similarities between the person you’re dating and their own parents. Weirdly also, you may see that you have attracted a partner who is reminiscent of your own parental figure growing up. It’s not uncommon.
If your partner has a mother who is incapable of showing genuine affection, or a father who is brilliant with acts of service but not words, then it could explain their need or unfamiliarity with physical touch and desire for action rather than words. Within our own separate histories lives a world of programming that has lead us to where we are. Using this knowledge is an advantage not to be squandered.
When coming from a place of love, this kind of information will enhance your understanding and your compassion toward why people are the way that they are. When everyone in a relationship is open to witnessing the generational patterns they’re replaying, it will help to navigate the rougher roads and aid more effective communication.
Your parents as a unit
As well as looking at how our parents interacted as individuals it’s important to, where possible, recollect how they co-existed as a unit. If you witnessed a strong bond created between two parents who always listened to each other, then you will know how much a replication of such devotion will be an asset to your life. If you witnessed a couple where one was silent just to keep the peace or one upped and left when the going got tough, then it would be imperative you watch out for and guard against this in your own couplings.
It’s not always necessary to reinvent the wheel and feel as though new relationships all need new answers, new perspectives or strategies. Sometimes it’s as simple as looking back, acknowledging what learned behaviour you’re bringing forward, and then deciding whether or not that’s wise.
Can you change?
Change is entirely possible once the first step of self awareness has been achieved and you are open to taking control of behaviours you didn’t realise were learned. The way to do this is to think about the reasons behind what you’re doing. Even if your behaviour has a negative impact on your life or on those around you, it’s very likely that the reason you’re doing it is for a positive reason. We’ll give you an example.
Let’s say your partner shuts down every time you try to talk about having children with her. She avoids the topic and is generally dismissive of any attempts to discuss it. This will feel deeply hurtful to you, frustrating and possibly as though you and your needs are not being valued. Your partner may be aware that you’re feeling this way and yet continue with what feels to be negative behaviour, regardless. What is going on for her subconsciously however could be a very different story.
The reason she is ignoring you and shutting you down may be because it’s the only way her subconscious mind feels it can protect her from her fear of motherhood, her fear of not living up to expectations, of disappointing those around her. It may be how one of her own parents behaved, when confronted with issues they did not want to face. If she doesn’t actually want children, it could be that at some point her mind has decided to protect her from losing you, by simply blocking the subject out.
It’s not that you have a partner who doesn’t care, it’s that you have a partner whose best learned line of defence is retreat. Yes this learning can come from other experiences she has had in her life, but start by checking if there is any similarity to the way other members of her family deal with things.
Think more deeply about your own actions
If you feel that it’s you always being accused of certain behaviours, such as bad communication, inconsideration, infidelity, then we want you to think about what it is you gain from them. Does not communicating make you feel less vulnerable and therefore more in control? Does being unfaithful make it easier to not have anyone expect too much of you, leaving you less fearful of truly disappointing people?
What are your actions protecting you from? Know this, look to where you may have learned them and where it began, then you will have the root issue of what needs to be worked on.
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