Have you ever wondered what patterns you repeat in relationships?
My boyfriend and I have been going through a book of questions in an effort to get to know one another better in areas we wouldn’t think to ask. One of the questions in the book asked what our previous partners would say about being in a relationship with us. As he explained some of the things his previous girlfriend said about what it was like dating him, I realized I wasn’t sure what my last boyfriend would say about me.
So I asked him (thankfully we’re on good terms). I wanted to know what kind of patterns I was repeating from my last relationship that carried over into this one. I wanted to know if there were certain behaviors that were unhealthy habits or issues I struggled with then that I continue to struggle with now.
More importantly, I wanted to know how I could grow and cultivate a more godly character that would prepare me to become a godly wife.
What carried over
I learned that some of the things he mentioned in his response I have carried over into my current relationship. And thankfully, I noticed growth in mostly all of those areas. He mentioned things like how I struggle with vulnerability in verbal conversation and how it made him feel like I was shutting him out and couldn’t trust him with my feelings. And things like how I seemed to have a hard time taking an interest in his interests the longer the relationship progressed.
These are areas my boyfriend has patiently challenged me in and helped me grow at a comfortable pace. It was helpful for me to recognize some of these patterns (although new ones were raised by my last boyfriend) at the beginning of our relationship so I could let him know where I struggle and ask him to be patient in understanding and helping me grow.
Part of that process has been figuring out how he can help naturally draw me out in conversation and how he can better include me in his interests. It’s been a process we’ve journeyed through together instead of me just feeling like I’m the problem and that I have to change myself. We’ve made an attempt to understand our personalities better and work with them when we have conflict.
Who to ask
I realize not all of you have good enough relationships with your previous partners to ask such a question. And some of you may never have dated. If you’re curious about patterns you repeat in relationships or areas where you might struggle in dating, consider asking your closest friends. They might be able to point out some areas for you where you seem to struggle in friendships, and those areas might carry over into future dating relationships. They can point out things for you like lack of vulnerability, selfishness, etc.
Knowing how you act in friendships and former dating relationships will help you learn how to grow before your next relationship, and it will help you grow in your relationship. In some cases, dating is the only situation that will help refine your character in such a way because you have someone you love gently pushing back at you. The areas I need to grow in are ones I don’t notice much outside of dating because no one is that deliberately attempting to know me and be known by me.
Do you know the areas where you struggle in relationships? Have you ever asked someone to honestly point those out to you?
Copyright 2013 Amy Kessler. All rights reserved.