Breaking Patterns - Building Healthy Relationships

It can be challenging to avoid falling into old patterns at the start of a new relationship. The excitement, new-ness, hormones, and wanting to present yourself in the best light, can create a context where old patterns are resurfacing without you realizing.

Sometimes after a relationship breaks up, you can look back and see small (or perhaps large) ways that you were not being true to yourself. I recommend making a list of questions to prepare for yourself ahead of time; start by analyzing where and how you think you lost part of yourself in past relationships. Did you agree with everything your new partner offered and said so as not to make waves? Did you use alcohol as a social lubricant to make sexual encounters less fraught with self-consciousness? Did you start spending every available moment with this person, to the detriment of friendships and other obligations?

We all have patterns and ruts that can lead to the same unwanted outcomes, irritations, and disappointments in the long run. If this resonates with you, here are some specific questions to get you started so you can check in with yourself as you’re getting into a new relationship:

  • Am I voicing my needs? In a responsible, honest way?
  • Do I feel out of balance? This includes physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually?
  • Am I reacting to irritations from a past relationship, without giving this person a chance?
  • What is my intuition telling me as to whether this is a healthy relationship for me?
  • Do I respect this person? Do they respect me?
  • Am I afraid to be vulnerable and express my true self?
  • Does this person bring out the best in me?
  • Am I taking care of and nurturing myself?

Add questions that are relevant to your patterns. Pull this list out when you have started a new relationship. Be gentle when answering your questions. This is definitely not about beating yourself up, but about staying grounded, authentic, and present in your new relationship and on your path of building healthy relationships.

Jennifer Gunsaullus, Ph.D.

Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego