5 common relationship patterns and how to recognize yours
Everyone has their own unique pattern of behavior when it comes to their romantic relationships. Here are 5 common patterns in a relationship and how to spot yours.
Most of us have multiple relationships throughout our lives; others settle for fewer partners and make things work or not. What doesn’t change is our thinking that things shift drastically when we change partners.
And why not, life circumstances change, the way bonding happens changes and even the tiny details that make the relationship “real ” change. Basically, when our current external situation transforms, we are naturally tricked into believing ” things have changed “.
Touch a layer beyond this reality and you will know that it may be as far from the truth as the earth is from the moon.
And why? Because, whether we like it or not, realize it or not, there is very likely a tendency in most of us to choose partners and relationship conditions that bear a certain resemblance to each other. If that’s hard to believe, then let’s work with the concept of themes.
Do you feel like you tend to only be attracted to well-read people?
Or that you would only get into a relationship with people who tend to try a variety of things work-wise?
Or that you keep attracting abusers even though you’ve done all you can?
You see what I’m talking about. Topics tend to be a bit difficult to construct, especially if you don’t give them the time and space to consider and evaluate. But once you do, you typically start seeing your relationships seem like a continuation of the others, with only the faces and the names changing. And if that sounds frustrating and limiting, then we get it, because they are.
Our patterns really determine how well we are able to live our lives and how we push ourselves to form a relationship with another. And while it’s easy to question all patterns, it’s important to remember that some patterns actually help us live better. For example, an acquaintance once told me, “I don’t get why people talk about conditioning like it’s all wrong. Some of it is right and that’s what’s supposed to keep us going.” Absolutely true.
However, without testing, some of us may say we would be bound to toxicity for the rest of our lives. And so it serves to get a grip on how our patterns define us and what we do to amplify the power our patterns have over us.
What is the relationship pattern?
It would be entirely legitimate if this question actually happened to you. But to break it down, relationship patterns are defined by three things:
- Who we choose to be in a relationship with.
- How we behave and feel in the relationship
- How we allow others to behave around us.
The above three typically interact and create a dynamic that can either make you feel good about the relationship space, indifferent, or like you want to escape as soon as possible.
The attempt is to figure out why you might feel the way you do while remembering that much of what we do in relationships is defined by our early dynamics with our primary caregivers.
Any other questions to ask?
Because relationship patterns aren’t typically apparent to the naked eye, sitting down with objective facts is almost a necessity. So a few extra questions can go a long way in helping you see what you need to see.
- In what context did you find each other?
- Who took the first step?
- What was your first impression?
- How long was the honeymoon phase and how did it end?
- How did you feel after this phase?
- What warning signs did you see?
- How did the relationship end?
- Who broke them off?
- How did you feel about the ending?
On the surface, these are all simple questions. However, if you have the patience and courage to use these questions to examine every romantic relationship you’ve ever had, you’ll likely see a pattern.
What have your relationship patterns been?
According to Vanessa Van Edwards, author of the best-selling book , Captivate , people typically fall into one of the five archetypal roles we’re going to talk about here.
1. The parent
If you are the one who bears the most responsibility in the relationship, acting as a protective space and place of one-sided comfort for your partner, you can certainly act from the parental role.
You might be the one who’s constantly making plans and feels the need to dictate to your partner how to live their life. This can be something as simple as being asked repeatedly to tidy up the house, or something more serious, like being asked what friends they should have.
If it sounds like you’re the parent, it might be interesting to find out what kind of bonds you had with your parents and siblings.
There is a tendency for people who are first born to take on this role in romantic relationships more easily than others.
2. The caregiver
Do you sometimes feel like you only have to worry about your partner’s well-being?
Like you’re the one who needs to take responsibility for improvements in their life and fix them to make them feel more whole?
Then there is a good chance that you will play the role of provider. In other contexts, this tendency to fix is also attributed to the ” savior ” mentality that needs a ” victim ” to feel worthy and wanted.
As a caregiver, you often tend to think that your partner would be much better off in life if they just listened to your suggestions and advice.
A question that goes inward for a caregiver would be – “What will happen if I stop acting like a person who cares too much?”
3. The Alpha
The boss, the dictator, the one in control, the one who makes the first move, and sometimes even the first to break out—sound familiar?
In this case, the archetypal role you are asked to play is that of “Alpha”. This is quite literally the person who controls every bit of the relationship — from the day-to-day actions to something as big as a life decision.
The Alpha is often attributed to the person who is very clear about their needs, but also the one who rarely cares about what someone else needs. If you’re indeed inclined to this pattern of role-playing, it might be interesting to ask yourself, “Where does this sense of control come from?”
Because let’s face it, when you want to control a person or a situation, it often means you’re secretly afraid that if you don’t, chaos will reign.
4. The codependent
Are you the type who forgets to register their own needs as their own and instead mistakes them for their partner’s?
Do you feel like life comes first in your relationship, even above your peace of mind?
Do you think that in most of your relationships you quickly became close to your partner and became a “one”? If your answer is yes, and you feel that you tend to become entangled with your romantic partners, then yes, you are a codependent.
The codependency pattern, like most other patterns, has its roots in developmental psychology. According to various psychologists, teenagers who are neglected by their parents and caregivers often tend to enter into codependent relationships later in life.
Taking stock of your limits, honestly assessing why you’re not using them enough, and establishing an identity independent of your partner can help you as you try to work with this pattern.
5. The push-pull
Have your relationships always felt super fleeting? Has the emotional space in your relationships always seemed fraught with danger and unpredictability? Was it always about you wanting one thing while your partner wanted something else?
A “yes” would mean that you were caught in a push-pull pattern of the relationship. You might have been the person who wanted to withdraw, who needed their space. Or you might have been the one pushing to stay close to the person and get their needs for intimacy.
Either way, it’s natural to feel less in a relationship and more in a tug of war. The psychology behind a push-pull dynamic is an extreme fear of intimacy on the one hand and a fear of abandonment on the other.
A question to ask yourself if this topic sounds familiar is, “Where have I experienced this in the past and what are the feelings behind it?”
Getting to know your patterns in romantic relationships can take time, but once you do, you’ll see how close they are to what may have happened in your childhood and growing up years.
Undoing any pattern takes patience and practice of a more functional new pattern to replace the old one. And also being kind to yourself and reminding yourself that you were a special person because you didn’t know any other way.