Are You Repeating Your Parents’ Mistakes?

by eHarmony Staff

Are You Repeating Your Parents' Mistakes?

Be honest—do you ever blame your past relationship failures on your parents? Do their relationship issues haunt your relationship reality? Oftentimes we mirror the relationship behavior we saw growing up. If our parents’ relationship was healthy, that’s a good thing. However, if we view our parents’ relationship as dysfunctional, we may experience dating disasters without recognizing the parallels.

In order to achieve relationship success, you may first need to acknowledge the role your parents’ relationship plays in your life. If you’ve been negatively influenced, you will need to break free of any familial dysfunction, recreate your love vocabulary, and release any judgment you have toward your parents and/or yourself. If you’re ready to create a more satisfying relationship future, the following four tips should help:

Tip #1: Identify the Mistakes

First, it’s important to identify the mistakes you think you’re repeating. For example, if your parents constantly butt heads over simple matters, you may find yourself being combative in your relationships. Or, if your parents were never very good at supporting one another’s goals and dreams, you may find yourself attracted to potential partners who constantly question or feel intimidated by your own goals and dreams. By identifying the relationship patterns you perpetuate, you take the first step toward breaking free and having a more satisfying relationship future.

Tip #2: Break Free from Your Parents’ Patterns

Once you’ve identified the relationship patterns you don’t want to mirror, your next step is to break free from them. Start by making a list of the patterns and habits you’re ready to relinquish. For example, you may want to let go of your controlling nature or your need to always be right in relationships—traits you inherited from your parents’ behavior. Once you’ve made your list, review it and ask yourself what healthy relationship habits you can introduce in their place. For example, instead of being a control freak, you may embrace the idea that relationships take compromise and you’re open to negotiation. Instead of insisting that you’re always right, you may accept the fact that you don’t always have all the answers and that it’s perfectly okay to be wrong sometimes.

 

Tip #3: Create a New Relationship Vocabulary

Here’s an incredibly empowering exercise: Write down five to ten words that describe what you think about love and relationships. Start by saying, “Love is…” and then fill in the blanks. By putting your beliefs on paper, you can better see how you might be having trouble attracting your perfect partner. If your list includes words like challenging, unfulfilling, difficult, etc., you next need to create a new vocabulary for yourself. Start by once again writing “Love is…” and then write down five to ten words that describe the kind of healthy relationship you want to start enjoying. If you need help getting started, words like available, happy, healthy, and fulfilling should inspire you. Practice this exercise morning and night for 30 days.

By creating a new love vocabulary and practicing it every day for a month, you’ll be surprised with the results. You may start attracting potential partners who mirror your new vocabulary. If it doesn’t happen overnight, don’t give up, just keep practicing.

Tip #4: Don’t Judge Your Parents’ Mistakes (or Yourself)

As you break free from your parents’ dysfunctional patterns and habits and re-create your own healthy relationship vocabulary, it’s important to relinquish any judgment you have toward your parents or yourself. The truth is, they did the best they could with the knowledge they had. You, too, will do the best you can do with the awareness and knowledge you possess. Your first step was to recognize the relationship patterns and habits you inherited that don’t work for you. By breaking free and celebrating your authentic vision of love, you increase your chances of relationship success.

Now that you know how to avoid repeating the mistakes your parents made, you are free to enjoy a healthy and happy relationship future. When in doubt, review the tips, practice your new love vocabulary, and release any self-imposed judgment.

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