We all know the feeling “I’ve been here before.” It might be that frenzied mood you get in because your house is constantly a mess and you are cleaning for hours every Sunday. Or maybe you rarely have free time because you procrastinate responsibilities and are left feeling regretful and wondering how you got to this point—again. This is also a feeling well known when it comes to relationships.
Maybe you vowed to avoid partners who made you feel like you were never on the same page, yet here you are again, dating that same kind of person. Perhaps you want to improve your life by finally making use of a gym membership, or devoting more time to catching up with old friends, but you are held back from investing too much time in unsupportive romantic connections. You might be left feeling stuck and complacent with where you are in life. This cycle of encountering the same mistakes with similar types of people can be exhausting and frustrating, but there is a way to break free. You are capable of finding people who lift you up and encourage you, and it all starts with having a conversation with yourself.
Acknowledge and Assess
When you experience that feeling of “I’ve been here before,” embrace that moment. There is actually a lot of learning and liberty in this awareness. Once you acknowledge it, you are able to make an emotional assessment about whether this is a positive or negative “I’ve been here before.” The key is to anchor the emotions that come with this state of mind, and figure out if you have happy, excited reactions when you feel this way, or if you have feelings of dread or frustration. You might have agreed to grab a meal with someone even though you know you will regret it, and then you find yourself bored to tears thirty minutes into dinner. You realize this happens quite often and feel annoyed over the recurrence. Recognizing you have these irritated emotions allows you to take note of what events bring about these specific unwanted sentiments, so that you can prevent them from happening again. Consider journaling your thoughts on the following questions:
- Why do you tend to say yes to things you are hesitant about? Answering this question will let you know if you are a people pleaser and feel obligated to accept every invitation, or maybe you just have a fear of missing out.
- At what point on a date do you start to feel uninterested and your mind begins to wander? Do you find that boredom causes you to drink more than you had planned, or resort to pretending to be on your phone?
- Finally, when that social event is over, what is the relief that you feel and why? Maybe the minute you get home you just want to celebrate because you are finally free from the tedious conversation.
By understanding your responses to these three questions, you will no longer say yes to something undesirable.
Find the How and Why
If you are at a point where you are experiencing a familiar disappointment in yet another relationship, ask yourself “How did I get here?” and “Why am I here again?” Sometimes we get in our own way because we are afraid of change and the unknown, so we stick to interactions that are comfortable and we can predict how they will unfold, even if we desire more. Understanding how you allow yourself to get trapped, whether it’s because of self-sabotage or fear, can enable you to change your mindset for the better.
The next step is to figure out why you are drawn to the same type of person in the first place. Maybe you appreciate that they indulge you by cooking fancy dinners you love. Or perhaps you like that they always look out for you and make you feel protected. It could even be that their sense of humor matches yours and you are constantly smiling. You want to ask yourself why it did not work out with your prior relationship: Is that person very similar to your current companion? Self-reflection can tell you a lot regarding what it is about a personality type that, at first, seems like a good chemistry fit when it might not actually be. In the beginning, you may believe you have a promising, budding romance with someone because you laugh at each other’s jokes, or get exciting butterflies before each date, but that magic might shortly fade. Consider turning to those who have strong relationships that you admire, and ask them how they met and what qualities they find in each other that allows them to have an enduring bond.
The next time you find yourself ready to jump into a new partnership, having this conversation with yourself, or seeking advice from others first, could change your mind and move you in the direction of a different, more rewarding connection.
Time for a Transformation
When you have that feeling of “I’ve been here before,” it means you are finally ready to make a long-awaited change: This emotion is a crossroad in your life. When you come to this point, if you have these self-reflections and personal pep talks, you will find you are capable of becoming the best version of yourself and finding romances that benefit you. Being aware of how you have grown from one relationship to the next, and how each person complemented or changed you, can allow you to jump to a new lily pad and break free from the relationships that were holding you back. Your transformation might not happen overnight, and you may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince or princess, but there will always be valuable lessons along the journey. So, go out there with arms wide open, and believe that the right relationship is waiting for you.