Why Do We Repeat the Same Dysfunctional Relationship Patterns Over And Over?

posted 2 years ago in Relationships
Post # 17
90 posts
Worker bee

I agree with this.

In the years of therapy I’ve had since leaving my exH, I came to realize that in some ways I was searching to reconcile the difficult relationship I had with my mother by marrying the man I did. My mother has always been incredibly critical of me; my self-esteem has been damaged beyond repair by the things she’s said and done to me since childhood. I’ve spent my whole life trying to please my parents (mostly my mother) by trying to be the person she wanted me to be and doing the things she wanted me to do. Indeed, when I married my ex, it was largely because my mother instilled in me a checklist of qualities I should be looking for in a husband – and my ex checked those boxes. My feelings never mattered, so I didn’t think about whether my ex made me feel happy or loved. I was used to not feeling that way and instead focusing on trying to serve and please so that shreds of acceptance would be dosed out to me randomly. I carried it from one relationship to the next.

It suffices to say that I married a man who treated me as his inferior and his indentured servant. He was a terrible husband and father. He played right into my lack of self-esteem, dragging me down even further, isolating me from family and friends, treating me like garbage, and even cutting me off from our shared finances (and I work full time and always have). He was abusive, plain and simple. We toss the word narcissist around here, but my therapist (who saw us as a couple a few times before we called it quits, then picked up with me again several years later) told me without a doubt that he is a narcissist. He saw my weakness and my desire to ingratiate myself and please him, and he exploited me to serve his own needs. I wanted someone else whose affections were unattainable to finally love me since my mother never really did. When, after 7 years of abuse, I finally started pushing back, I stopped being of use to him and he wanted me gone. I was happy to oblige.

A lot of other crappy things have happened, including having to negotiate co-parenting a disabled child with this man, but it’s taken me until my mid-30s to now begin to understand that I can like myself as I am even if my mother doesn’t. It’s also taken me until now to find a SO that loves me as I am and treats me as his equal.

It’s my personal opinion that women with low self esteem and who have dealt with an abusive relationship with a parent tend to seek out a resolution in a partner, only to enter into another abusive relationship, perpetuating the cycle.

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