6 Dead-End Dating Patterns—And How To Change Them

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dead end sign
Dr. Diana Kirschner's new book "Sealing The Deal" tells us how to change negative dating patterns.

It's Sharon's birthday and when her guy didn't make a fuss over her, it brought up a defining and critical experience from adolescence where her father ignored how good she looked in her prom dress and made a fuss about her sister instead. It was in this pivotal scene from childhood that Sharon first decided that she was unlovable. Layered upon that are scenes from guys she dated who simply disappeared out of her life. So in dealing with her current boyfriend who ignored her birthday she revisited the killer belief, "I can't have love because I'm not lovable." This cascaded into a second one, "All men let you down in the end." And finally, "This relationship is not working." These core beliefs emerged because of a simple breakdown in the here-and-now.

The breakdown starts with not taking his disappointing behavior at face value. Instead of being present and looking at what happened, you take the disappointment as proof of your core negative beliefs. You assign it meaning above and beyond what actually occurred. He forgot my birthday. This is the fact. All the drama about your unlovability and everything falling apart is just a story you concocted.

Instead of taking the healthy road—saying in a loving way that you are disappointed and showing your boyfriend how to make it up to you—you worry, fret, sulk, whine, criticize and distance yourself. Instead of showing him how to be your knight, how to come through and to win you over, your attention is stuck on how impossible relationships are; how depressed you are because there is something wrong with you; what a jerk he is; and/or how this relationship is going nowhere. You subject yourself to a whirlpool of suffering.

With normal fears it is easier to ask for and receive reassurance from your partner. This is quite different from the depressive gravity and the often unconscious nature of killer beliefs. So, with that in mind I urge you to read all the following killer beliefs and do the exercises that follow, being honest with yourself so that you become aware of their appearance and impact on you.

Next: Introducing the Six "Killer Beliefs"