These Are the Mindsets That Can Land You in Bad Relationships

E.B. Johnson

Are you someone who has kissed a lot of frogs without finding a prince? Maybe you cycle through bad relationship after bad relationship. Or maybe you keep falling back into the same patterns that you watched your mother and father fall into. When we can’t break out of these self-sabotaging cycles, we end up developing beliefs and mindsets that keep us there. If you want the freedom of relationships that are fulfilling and fair, then you have to reshape these beliefs. Getting out of these mindsets determines the quality of our relationships moving forward.

The beliefs that can land us in bad relationships.

Once you go through a couple of bad breakups, or a couple of traumatic relationships, you end up developing beliefs about what relationships mean, in general. These beliefs form the basis of our overall mindsets. When we go into the next relationship, and the next one, these mindsets decide how we settle, who we settle for, and the quality of our lives and needs. To get that healthy, fulfilling partnership you’ve been dreaming of, you must acknowledge your wrong mindsets and set them (mindfully) right.

Raising up emotions

Relationships are emotional, and they heighten our already pretty emotional states of being. When you allow these emotions to get out of control, you can fall into the trap of associating your emotional happiness or happiness with your partner. You think that having a relationship will magically make you happy, or that you must have a partner in order to be loveable and worthy of the world at large. In all cases, these beliefs are false.

Low self-esteem

Are you struggling with low self-esteem and self worth? This can put us in the mindset of never being “good enough”. We come to see ourselves as inherently flawed, and this mindset leads us to settle for partners and opportunities that are both ill-fitting and self-destructive. All of this comes together to create a further misdirected sense of self that totally disrupts the path that we are supposed to be on.

Over personalization

Are you someone who sees everything that happens as a reflection of you and your self-worth? This is called personalization, and it’s a devastating state of mind to put ourselves in. When you see everything someone does as a reflection of you, it can create insecurities that make you chase outside validation. Worse than that, you can come to misunderstand the attitudes and approaches of people when you see them all as as a reflection of self.

Black-and-white thinking

Adopting unreal absolutes can create iron-clad mindsets which are inflexible and hard to manage. This shuts out the wrong partners and creates opportunities for all the wrong partners. Some of these unreal absolutes include the idea everything should come easily in love. That there is no work involved. You may also believe that you should win or solve every conflict. Other unreal absolutes include the belief that you should never experience unhappiness with your partner. Or that change should happen overnight.

A victim mentality

Victimhood gets us nowhere, not in life or love — and especially not when we’re actually victims. No one cares. We are the only one who can care for ourselves and get that “justice” that we’re craving. That doesn’t happen by wallowing in victimhood. When you do that, you attract other victims and predators who want to take advantage of you. The best way involves acknowledging our pain and moving forward with determination in healthier directions.

Denying positivity

When a lot of bad things happen to us, it can create the expectation of disappointment and failure. This usually develops into a negative mindset. You expect the worst to happen before you’ve even invested in new people or opportunities. In return, you end up undervaluing the positives in your relationships and the little shows of love and respect that we are garnering from the people who we care for most. In most cases, this translates into showing a lack of gratitude — which is upsetting and damaging.

Magical thinking

Ever been guilty of magical and mystical thinking? These mindsets are especially toxic where our relationships are involved. You may think that a partner will magically fix the pain that you’re in mentally and emotionally. Once in the relationship, you may employ that same magical thinking to keep yourself stuck in a toxic or abusive relationship. You’ll think things like, “If I just hold on X number of days, they’ll realize how they’re hurting me and straighten up.” Life doesn’t work that day.

Overly optimistic

Some people are entirely too optimistic about their relationships. And they develop mindsets which help them maintain this delusional optimism. Often, these delusions are handed down. We’re taught to see only the best in the people who we love. And when we can do that, we’re taught to paint the bad with a rose-colored brush and pretend it will all go away. That optimism doesn’t pay. It gets you stuck in relationships that are dangerous and unfulfilling.

Endless perfectionism

Over-idealizing and perfectionism are two of the worst mindset traps we can get ourselves in. To over-idealize someone, we pain them with the brush of perfection before we even know (fully) who they are. Perfectionism, too, is a dangerous place to be. You expect your partners to be perfect in every way and, when they aren’t, you bail. This creates cycles of breakups and self-denial which prevent any lasting connection.

All-or-nothing thinking

All-or-nothing approaches can be great in entrepreneurs, but it’s not a great way of thinking with our intimate relationships. Investing in someone asks a lot of us. Going all-in too soon can be a devastating mistake. You can wind up stuck with people who don’t have your best interests at heart. Allow yourself to take it a day at a time. You don’t have to put all your cards on the table before you’re ready.

How to build healthier relationship beliefs.

Getting a handle on your unhealthy and self-defeating mindsets is a great first step, but it’s only a first step. You’ve got to then actively work to create new mindsets and healthier ways of connecting with those around you. Re-create your self-esteem. Identify your true, non-negotiable needs. Heal your inner wounds and actively make different choices in life and in love. From here, healthy collisions with new partners and new experiences will help you create healthier mindsets that improve the quality of all your connections moving forward.

1. Give yourself a boost of confidence

Before you can realistically change anything in the relationship department for yourself, you need to rebuild and recreate healthier self-esteem. Our self-esteem can be considered the fuel of all positive changes in our life. Once you know who you are, and you can love and celebrate that person, you can stand up and ask for the things you require from the world. Speak up for yourself and create boundaries by reconfiguring your core sense of self-esteem.

Rebuild your self-esteem from the ground up. Invest in yourself. Fall in love with yourself. Before the person you think you’re looking for in a romantic partnership. Once you have fallen in love with yourself, it becomes easier to set boundaries and pursue those relationships which are truly aligned to your truths.

Start by doing things you’re good at. This may seem superficial at first, but it’s a great way to build initial confidence. Get out into the world. Get involved and invested in your hobbies and pastimes. Meet new people. Surround yourself with those who lift you up and see the best in you. Then, focus inward. Fall in love with your body. Find your passion for every curve or blemish. Next, fall for the person you’ve become inside. Celebrate yourself, your skills, and all the hardships you’ve survived so far.

2. Be honest about core needs

Knowing your needs is a requirement in building better mindsets for yourself. A lot of your relationship pain points come down to having misaligned needs. You don’t pick partners who have what you need, and you don’t invest in people who you can provide for either. Before you make another disastrous investment, shift your mindset by identifying (and prioritizing) your real-world needs.

Identify your real-world needs. Stop hiding them away and concealing them under someone else’s desires. Get out your journal. Break your relationships down into different categories of function or need. Think communication, time together, physical alignment, etc. What do you need from each of these things?

Prioritize your needs. Some things we often think of as needs are actually just desires or wants. You must get clear on the non-negotiables first. What are you not willing to tolerate? Identifying these non-negotiables is a great way to get a better perspective on our must-haves. How do you want your partner to speak to you? How do you want them to show up for you? Who do you need them to be outside of your partnership? How do you want to feel when you’re around them? Be realistic and be brutally honest with yourself.

3. Deal with the emotional baggage

Did you know that the word “heal” means “whole”? When we’re talking about healing, we’re not talking about making something disappear. We’re talking about finding the balance. We’re talking about approaching your issues as an entire problem. You must consider the mind, the body, and the soul. Question the very roots of who you are and what’s happened to you. Then look for better ways to respond and better ways to view the pain of your past.

There’s no shifting those mindsets until you heal your inner wounds. This doesn’t mean they will go away. You won’t wipe your memory, or magically forget the hurt and the negative patterns that were caused. But you can ease that hurt and give yourself enough energy and power to move forward in confidence.

Confront that pain that’s lurking in the past. The painful breakups. The traumatic breakdowns. Get a counselor. Get a therapist. Later on in the journey, you can get a coach if you need to. Right now, what is crucial is that you get real about where these wrongful beliefs are coming from. Did a cheating partner teach you that no is worth trusting? Did your own mistakes teach you that you couldn’t pick lovers who would last? Address your wounds. Put them out in the open so that you can course-correct and heal them with the activities that you individually need.

4. Move from a place of compassion

Re-building our beliefs isn’t a straightforward process. You’ve probably been holding on to those toxic mindsets for a long time. They didn’t get there overnight. They were built on the backs of our beliefs and our experiences with lovers and loved ones. Give yourself a chance to do things better and don’t throw in the towel at the first hurdle. Your beliefs will change, even as you find healthier mindsets to fall into. Let it happen naturally and be hind to yourself along the way.

Approach yourself with greater compassion. There’s going to be mistakes and backslides. You’re going to go back to those places of fear and you’re going to struggle to see the growth sometimes. That’s okay. It’s a part of the process. Have the grace and self-respect to forgive yourself as you forgive others.

Coming from this place of compassion in terms of your growth can really empower you to keep going when change seems impossible. Let’s face it. Changing decades of toxic mindsets is something that takes time. And it’s painful. We have to pull out all those old hurts and transform them into something beautiful that motivates us. To do this, we have to move in compassion for ourselves and the journey that we’re on.

Putting it all together…

In our relationship patterns, mindset is everything. Having the right mindset (and relevant beliefs) can lead to healthy relationships and fully realized self-concept. If those mindsets are negative, self-limiting, and based in low self-worth, though, we can battle toxic partners and damaging partnerships that can prevent us from building the future we crave.

Give yourself a solid base of self-esteem to launch from. You won’t have the ability to visualize or act on the right partnerships without it. Believe in yourself. Love yourself. And then use this newfound love to recognize your genuine needs in life and in your partnerships. Heal your inner wounds and don’t leave those up to the next person in your life to manage. You are responsible for your happiness. A partner simply complements that. Approach yourself with greater compassion. Don’t punish yourself for mistakes in the past or think that you have to settle for behavior for love that is subpar. These alternative approaches will create better actions. Healthier relationships should follow. Little-by-little you will rebuild your mindsets and find a better way to live in love with those who matter most.

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Certified Life Coach | NLP-MP | Author I create transformative personal development and self-help content that helps you improve your life and your relationships across the board. You have the power to transform your life, but you have to heal yourself first.

Pelham, AL
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