Unpacking Your Past Relationships: Advice from a Relationship Counselor
You’re at the point in your life that you’re looking back at your past relationships and wondering some things. You know that your past relationship patterns might be not the healthiest, yet you’re unsure how to change them. These questions that you’re asking yourself can take you down a rabbit hole of anxiety or low self-esteem. But you don’t want to go there. What can you do?
Here are some things you might be questioning about your past relationships:
Why do all my past relationships end in heartbreak?
How come my relationships only last for a few months?
What does it mean that I always the one getting broken up with?
Why do I lose myself in my relationships?
I always seem to choose partners that are not good for me, why is that?
And, how do others manage healthy, long-term relationships?
These are all valid questions to be asking yourself if you’re looking to change up your relationship patterns and do things differently in the future. However, the answers are not so easily arrived at. There are so many factors that go into how you present and interact within relationships with others.
As a relationship therapist, I don’t give “advice”. I partner with my clients to help understand their story, why they interact the way they do in relationships with others, and develop strategies on how to change past unhealthy relationship patterns. If I were to give advice to someone like you who is looking to unpack your past relationships, here is what I would say.
Learn About Your Attachment Style
If you’re unsure about the term Attachment Style, check out this blog Why Attachment Theory is Important in Counseling. Basically, there are two types of attachment styles that most people fit into. These attachment styles are usually developed in infancy and childhood and then persist into adulthood.
You can have either a Secure Attachment Style or Insecure Attachment Style. And, usually whatever style fits you the most, you act out in your adult intimate and peer relationships. There is a lot of information out there about attachment styles, and exploring all of this is beyond the scope of this article. But it does help to educate yourself about what this means as you’re unpacking your past relationships.
Improve Your Self-Awareness in Relationships
Knowing yourself and how you tend to react to experiences and situations can only be helpful in relationships. Thus, intentionally improving your own self-awareness is something that you might want to work on.
For example, do you tend to jump in too quickly and put your entire life on hold when you start a new relationship? Or perhaps the opposite, you hold off in letting your true self be known with others by keeping up your emotional walls for too long?
You can look into how you react to typical things that occur in relationships. Such as when you don’t hear from your partner in x amount of time, what happens in your mind and your body? What would you like to change about this?
The understanding and self-compassion that you show yourself in relationships is also important. If you’re angry at yourself, it will show in your future relationships.
Know Your Relationship Communication Style
Everyone has a style of communicating with others within relationships. Check out our blog What is Your Relationship Communication Style if you’d like to learn more about how you interact verbally with a partner. Learning how you communicate with others can help bring balance to your life.
It helps to know and understand how you talk with others, especially if your relationships tend to have a lot of tiffs or arguments. And it also helps to be able to identify your partner’s communication style. How do you repair conflict after an argument? And how do you approach conflict in general? These are all good questions to be asking yourself to unpack your past relationships.
Practice New Ways of Interacting in Relationships
Finally, my advice as a relationship therapist is for you to practice new ways of being in relationships. If you have looked back at your past relationships and see that you want to do things differently the next time around, the best way to make this happen is to practice!
It’s hard to change some of these fundamental aspects about yourself. Like how you communicate, how you react in tough situations, how you deal with conflict – these are all difficult things to just change on a dime. I would suggest that you pick one new thing you’d like to change and then seek out opportunities to practice doing it in new ways.
A great way to learn and practice new ways of interacting in relationships is to join a Relationship Support Group. Group therapy will give you a safe space with real people to try out new behaviors and actions. And then, when your confidence is increased with your new way of being, you can transfer these skills into the real world and into your current and future relationships. Check out our blog 3 Ways Group Counseling Can Improve Your Relationships.
In sum, there are many things that you can do as you’re unpacking your past relationships and wondering what went wrong. The above are a few things that you can do on your own. Just know, that you do have influence and control how you interact in your future relationships with others.
If you’re looking for supportive relationship counseling in Colorado, check us out! We offer several choices of relationship counselors to choose from.
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Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Shannon Heers is a psychotherapist, approved clinical supervisor, guest blogger, and the owner of a group psychotherapy practice in the Denver area. Shannon helps adults in professional careers manage anxiety, depression, work-life balance, and grief and loss. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.