I have a problem with commitment

-- Question for John --

I am a 31 year old lady. Have confidence in myself and other people see me as an outgoing, strong character and pleasing person. I have one problem though and that is commitment to my relationships. I have been in 5 relationships but after the first couple of months I get bored, become unfaithful and then find a way to get out of the relationship.

I have always made certain that my partners get the blame and make them feel guilty, although I know the problem is me. After I leave them I miss them and feel bad about what I have done. I then contact them but in the meantime have a new ‘lover’. I end up in a situation of having a ‘commited’ relationship with a man, and, also still phoning, visiting and having sex with my previous partner. I can not carry on like this anymore. Last night I ‘dumped’ my partner only to be with someone ‘new’ I met two weeks ago at a friends place, and I am still uncertain about going back to my previous, previous partner. Please help!

-- Answer from John --

It sounds like you see the predictability of your pattern. Each person has some deep set of patterns which come out in relationships and love — which can be limits to the depth of healthy, lasting intimacy that they can experience — despite their higher intentions. Each person ultimately must learn a way to evolve beyond their own self-limiting patterns.

The patterns I am talking about are originally developed in childhood. They are the result of choices made by a very young mind, doing the best it could to figure out how to connect to others while protecting the self. These choices were made in the context of the family of origin and genetic predispositions, and the way in which that very young mind perceived those around him/her. These choices were made long before we became verbally adept or cognitively proficient at thinking.

Therefore, we all have a set of emotional patterns that operate in the attempt to self-defend us and deal with the core problems of vulnerability and connection. These patterns come up in relationships. They come up the strongest in our strongest relationships, i.e. with a romantic partner. And these patterns are, for the most part, way beyond our conscious understanding. Because they were developed at an earlier stage in our cognitive development.

Thus the field of psychology and counseling came to be, as a study of such patterns and a study of how to assist people to navigate beyond the limits and pains that such patterns cause us in love. This is especially true now — today and for the last few decades — because society has lost most of its ability to influence couples to have stable, longterm marriages.

Instead, since the 60’s, most of us have been influenced by the idea that how you “feel” is the most important thing in love. And since feelings are by nature ever-changing, especially when we let them operate on an unconsciously-driven level, then we end up acting out our emotionally-based patterns in relationships. Over and over, for instance, according to your particular pattern, you will be falling in love, then getting bored, missing the ex’s and going back to previous partners, while still seeking out other potentially perfect partners.

To change a deep-seated pattern like this, you need to go deeper within yourself to the root of the pattern. I can label the pattern for you as a psychologist, and yet, this intellectual label will not assist you to change anything. You need to make inner emotional contact with the part of you that is running your life, operating at a deeply unconscious level. You need to connect with that part of yourself and start an authentic dialog within yourself. You need to commit to personal growth, and make it your highest priority (even higher than any particular lover at this time) — if you want to grow beyond your pattern.

You can describe the symptoms of the pattern — the feelings of boredom, the actions you take to avoid commitment, etc. And you have repeated the pattern often enough to know that your feelings and behaviors are predictable and somewhat automatic. This means they are driven by an inner part of you that is operating unconsciously. You need to develop the ability to contact that part, understand what it really wants, and deliver it some wise counsel — from yourself ultimately, your true self — so that you can evolve the pattern towards who you really want to be in loving relationship — toward your true essential nature, who you truly are beyond this self-limiting pattern.

Reading books on relationships, commitment, personality types and emotional patterns, and so forth, would be one important area of education to develop an interest in. This would be an important kind of self-meditation on what is real and how various psychologists have seen different patterns play out according to personality types.

This would supplement getting help from someone who can coach or counsel you in weekly sessions for awhile, to help you see what is very difficult for any of us to see without outside help — i.e. our inner unconscious patterns that cause us to act and feel the way we do. Getting this level of personal help is usually required to break through a pattern and set yourself on a new and healthier course.